William Sloane Coffin Vs. Glenn Beck

Working on a piece written by Robin Rice Lichtig called Suzi Livingston Opens Like a Parachute for a workshop this coming Monday at Theatre for a New City. One of the characters I play briefly in it is William Sloane Coffin. Turns out Robin baby sat his children. He was a CIA agent who became a chaplain at Yale University and champion in the civil rights and peace movements. He said, “All of life is the exercise of risk.”

If you watch the linked video, he talks about knowing you are in the right fight. I’ve been letting that sit with me for a few days. I honestly don’t know if I am or not and would be happy to field suggestions from anyone out there. I’ve been sitting back lately and not engaging with the bigger craziness. Since stopping teaching as my side gig, I’ve lost some sense of doing something for others. If there is such a thing as heaven on earth, I think being in the right fight is the way there. This goes beyond being good, or being kind to others.

On the same day as I saw the Reverend Coffin clip, I also was sent a link to a rant by Glenn Beck from the Theatre of the Oppressed Lab in the West Village. In this, he turns a discussion on the state of things/how to deal with social issues into Picture Pages-esque diatribe witch hunt.

He starts by quoting what’s on the Brecht Forum’s website. I’ll put it here in it’s entirety. “The BRECHT FORUM is a place for people who are working for social justice, equality and a new culture that puts human needs first. Through its programs and events, the Brecht Forum brings people together across social and cultural boundaries and artistic and academic disciplines to promote critical analysis, creative thinking, collaborative projects and networking in an independent community-level environment.” I can almost guarantee less people went through the doors there in a year than watched this one broadcast. He jumps on the phrase “social justice” by saying it’s dangerous.

I wish he jumped on critical thinking. It’s what people who listen to him are seriously lacking and why places like this are considered scary to Beck. But I wonder if he believes this sort of thing or if it’s said just to drive traffic. I really feel like I’m being spoken to as though I’m a third-grader by him in this piece. I guess it provides comfort to some people and maybe even makes them feel as though they have a firm understanding of how Communism is sneaking into the water of the Progressives.

What is really dangerous is allowing opinions become news and have them take the place of individuals using critical and creative thinking. What would William Sloane Coffin say about this brand of self-righteousness?

I don’t know but maybe that’s the right fight for me to get into now.

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