I interviewed Norman Solomon at the 2008 Democratic Party Convention in San Jose, California. Norman is a columnist and his book "War Made Easy" was recently made into a movie with Sean Penn narrating it. In this second part of the interview, he talks about the progressive value of responsibility for each other. This responsibility is the basis of the popular progressive phrase, 'We're All in it Together' which stands in contrast to the more Failed Conservative Value view of 'Every Man for Himself'.
Progressive Values Stories: Norman Solomon on We're All in it Together
My name is Norman Solomon. I’m an activist, writer, author, and columnist. I’m a delegate to the State Democratic Party Convention in 2008, because I was elected as a representative to the Central Committee of the Democratic Party.
The overall value to me that is crucial to progressive movements and progressive sensibilities and beliefs is all about the conviction, the deep-held belief that we’re all in this together. That we all have a responsibility to each other. That we all should as human beings strive to be the antithesis of the crabs in the tank trying to crawl over each other to get on top of each other and step on others in the process.
Unfortunately, because of economic and other reasons, often that’s the behavior that is reinforced. And there is so much in human beings that is cooperative, collective, working together, caring about each other, whether you see it in terms of I am my brother’s keeper or you see it in terms of the family of humanity.
Families are very much that expression of that, at least at their best, about we’re all in this together. And if you can extend that to the notion that it’s human beings on this planet – we’re all in this together – then there’s a mutual responsibility and a mutual accountability. And I think nurturing that we can create and build into our economic and political systems.
Edwin: Do you have any kind of personal story wherein you learned a lesson about it?
Norman: For me, it’s been very gradual, growing up in fairly middle income United States during the Fifties and Sixties.
For a year and a half, because my father was in the foreign aid program, I lived in India when I was eight or nine years old, and the contrast between the way in which most of us, anywhere, in the United States live, with the minimal amount of nutrients, nutrition, housing, some sort of security, was, of course, in very sharp contrast to Calcutta, India.
And I think that as well in many other encounters, some of which were not really with conscience awakened at the moment, really did over a period of time – like water on the stone perhaps – shaped me in a certain direction, when I responded to seeing the world as way too filled with inequity for my own sense of human comfort – not literally that it’s my own wealth or something that’s at stake, but comfort in a difference sense. A moral comfort, you might say.
So, I would say it’s been an aggregate for me. I’m 56 years old, and we’re all sort of an aggregate of what we’ve experienced and what we’ve drawn from our experiences.
I think in human terms there is this person evolution that takes place, and sometimes we’re not aware of it very much until after the fact. And in retrospect, we can see that we’ve been on trajectory.
And I think the best way to see that trajectory is to check out one’s own values internally, and not simply hook on to some slogans or some media agenda or some easy path that seems to have already been cleared. We need to make our own path individually, and most, especially, in social terms – being with others to create a sense of mutual accountability and consecutiveness.
More Progressive Values Stories:
I am working on a documentary to answer the question, What are Progressive Values and on Failed Conservative Values. So far, I have interviewed over 100 progressives and have placed over 500 video clips on YouTube with the various replies. This is part of a continuing series of interviews of progressives telling their personal stories about their progressive values.
What Are Progressive Values? Documentary Project
and Study Group