By calling on past activists such as Rosa Parks and Gandhi to illustrate that you don’t have to be outspoken to make a change, Paul Loeb spoke to a crowded room on Tuesday, March 27 in the Lecture Center at SUNY New Paltz.
The lecture, named after his new book, “Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times,” was sponsored by 16 departments and organizations including the humanistic/multicultural education program and Voice for Choice.
Loeb is the author of five books and has been an activist for more than 35 years. He spoke at New Paltz in 2004 and encouraged people to think of ways they can make a difference in the world, according to Nancy Schniedewind, a graduate professor of humanistic/multicultural education.
Schniedewind said she was inspired by the messages and stories in Loeb’s books and that this talk is important now more than ever because things such as the Patriot Act and the reasons behind Occupy Wall Street have eroded civil liberties.
“[Loeb] said even in times of hopelessness there is so much people can do to make a difference, ” Schniedewind said. “He tries to make people see the connections to other people that aren’t in their same locality, other people in the past and other parts of the world as well as the United States that are all working together with a common goal for a more just an democratic future.”
Loeb said his interests have always driven him and hopes they drive others, too. He said he wants people to get involved in important issues and support others around them.
“When somebody steps forward on an issue we care about we have to encourage them,” Loeb said. “When people are silent other people are encouraged to be silent.”
Loeb said in history there is a divergence between image and reality and that lone activism is untrue. He said it takes a community to make a change and everyone must be called upon.
According to Loeb, in order to make a difference and act for change there are two steps everyone must follow. The first is taking a leap and the second is being strategic.
“Here’s a situation that seems impossible but you have to act, and that’s a leap of faith,” Loeb said. “And then you have being strategic, you look at a situation and you say, ‘Oh, how am I going to fix that? How am I going to change it?’ and think, ‘How am I going to take a stab?’”
He said that although this is a difficult feat to accomplish, one must stick to it to make a change because giving up halfway through will not provide results. One suggestion he made was to keep going by maintaining a balance of work and doing things that “nurture your soul.”
He said it’s important to keep going and to remain dedicated to your goals.
“Have a sense of humor and don’t be intimidated,” Loeb said.