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Retire from the fray? I think not.

I’ve felt like “retiring from the fray” and letting younger folks pick up the baton before – aging makes you tired, and these struggles take energy and are discouraging. But I was never really tempted to do it once and for all until the past few weeks after I had a heart attack (10-30). Needing to focus on one’s own survival concentrates the mind to the exclusion of much else…for a while.

I still need to focus on my health – more than ever before – but as of this afternoon, thanks to listening to some of Mumia abu Jamal’s recorded messages from prison, I’m back in the fight.

Mumia, a radical black journalist unjustly convicted of the murder of a white Philadelphia police officer in 1981, has spent the majority of his 60 years in federal prison, most of that time on death row (his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without parole in 2011). If he still has the heart to think, write, and speak out after all he’s been through, why shouldn’t I? As he says in one of his recent recordings, “If you don’t fight, how can you win?”

Uncertainty as to the outcome of the fight – in fact, at times, the belief that it will not be successful – has immobilized me many times. You can probably say the same. Grief and sadness for the system’s many victims and for the earth is also heartbreaking (in my case, perhaps literally). But these are still the appropriate reactions, as is anger at the unnecessary suffering the system has caused and is causing. (I don’t agree with spiritually inclined friends who say these realities must be accepted before they can be changed and believe that meditating in a state of love for other living beings is enough.)

No. Action is necessary. As Mumia also said in the piece I listened to just now, a focused, disciplined mass movement can change our society. I want to be part of that, whether it succeeds in my lifetime – or ever – or not.

La lucha continua (the struggle continues). Power to the people [hold your hand up, and make a fist]!