I was born in October1941 and when Pearl Harbor was bombed, I obviously was not far from my mother. She tells me she was at her mother in law's house for dinner when they got the news. So, I don’t remember much of the war. My uncle went to the New Hebrides, but I only remember his coming home with a pea coat for his sister, my mother. My dad worked in the defense industry and his parents only had one child - my father, so my dad did not fight, nor did his father, my grandfather.
Until I became self aware, I lived a wonderful life being a free range kid in a small town, an ideal childhood and school experience all through the 50s until high school was over for me in 1959. I set off for Michigan State University, my first visit to a place where some of the people were different from the all white protestants who lived in my small town of Spring Lake, Michigan.
Mygod, there were people of different colors, people who wore strange beanies on their heads, had beards and wore their hair funny.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that these folks were treated differently whether they wanted to be or not. I learned what prejudice was.
I could never figure out prejudice except it was used by large patriarchal institutions to gain and keep power and control. If the population was given someone to hate, that population was easy to control and manipulate. Don't think so? Read "1984" and "Animal Farm." Or read history. See what Hitler did. See what organized religion has done from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the present. See what has happened to the public educational system with the dumbing down of students, so many of whom are drugged daily so they behave. Scary isn't it?
For reasons I still don’t know, I had problems with that. And at that moment, at 17 years old, social activism became a major cause in my life.
It started with me realizing that unfairness was no way to run a university, let alone a country or a world. I participated in varying acts of civil disobedience as I grew into my new role as a social activist. I participated in sit ins, demonstrations, marches and even published my own alternative newspaper and distributed it off campus.
Of all the things I learned through the 60s and beyond, I found useful later in life after I became disabled, these were just lessons that I could use to still change things.
And I do.