Episode 65: Tom Hayden – The Youth-Elder Dialogue from the Sixties to the First Decade of the 21st Century
In this episode of our Engaged Elder series, I dialogue with Tom Hayden, known to many around the world as a leading activist for progressive change for the last five decades, spanning both his “youth” and “elder” roles in the ongoing “ethical dialogue” about society’s values – from being a Freedom Rider in the Deep South of the U.S. and a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1961 and author of its visionary call, the Port Huron Statement, to nearly two decades in the Legislature of the State of California passing over one hundred critical measures, to his role in Progressives for Obama and his commentaries on The Huffington Post. As a writer, he is the author or editor of fifteen books, including the recent Voices of the Chicago Eight: A Generation on Trial and Writings for a Democratic Society.
In Part 1 Tom and I review the post-World War II creation of various institutions, including the United Nations, intended to secure a peaceful and cooperative world, succeeded by the transformational energies of the Sixties world-wide, led primarily by a younger generation and its vision of a coherent social movement that could energize and sustain those ideals in the face of the Cold War, widespread racial intolerance, and the Vietnam War. This review of our role in social change as youth then leads into the era of the Eighties and Nineties, and sets the stage for a compelling analysis in Part 2 of the current evolutionary challenges of our times that comes full circle.
After you listen to this Dialogue, I invite you to both explore and make possible further interesting material on Living Dialogues by taking less than 5 minutes to click on and fill out the Listener Survey.
“I’m Tom Hayden, a supporter and participant in Living Dialogues about our living experience, and this is the kind of programming and forum that we desperately need.” – Tom Hayden
“Duncan Campbell, I heard about your podcast a few months ago, and have been deeply listening to all the dialogues with your fantastic friends/guests. Your words, ideas, and wisdom are truly inspirational. You have evoked a new appetite for knowledge in me that I hope to share with a starving younger generation. Thank you for doing what you do, and creating a unique space, void of boundaries and classification. A breath of fresh air! Much love and respect.” – Amit Kapadiya
In furtherance of creating and maintaining the planetary dialogues now required in the 21st century, I am featuring a special series of dialogues on this site with myself and other elders in the weeks leading up to and including the 2008 Olympics hosted by China and the U.S. election season. These dialogues address various specific political aspects of our planetary crisis, with its dangers and opportunities for a visionary and evolutionary shift. (We remember that the Chinese character for “crisis” is often described as meaning both “danger” when visioned from a fear perspective, and “opportunity” when visioned from a wisdom perspective.)
In my preceding dialogues I have talked in various ways about the need to generate dialogues across generational, ethnic, gender, and national boundaries -- building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the cooperative spirit and reaching out required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place.
This is the time for renewed dialogue, for visionary and inspiring discourse producing practical and innovative solutions together, to engage our own elder wisdom and youthful inspiration, and in so doing to experience and exemplify that “Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”.
And that is what we all do, in our mutual roles as host, deep listeners, and guests, when we gather together here from all parts of the globe in Living Dialogues.
Other programs you will find of immediate interest on these themes are the Dialogues Programs 35-36 with Paul Hawken regarding the emergence of collaborative citizen movements worldwide, Program 37 with sociologist Paul Ray on the creation of a new wisdom culture and political paradigm, Program 58 with Ted Sorensen, counselor to John F. Kennedy, Program 59 with Robert Thurman on the Dalai Lama and China, Program 61 with David Boren on the need for new energy and transpartisanship, and Programs 62-64 with George Lakoff on understanding the 21st century Political Mind. Also of directly related interest in terms of the founding and traditions of the U.S. during its tipping point 2008 election season, with its implications for global shifts, are my dialogues with historian Joseph Ellis, honored as “the Founders’ historian” by The New York Review of Books (see Programs 38 and 39).
SUBSCRIBE HERE FOR FREE TO LIVING DIALOGUES AND IN THE COMING WEEKS HEAR DUNCAN CAMPELL’S DIALOGUES WITH OTHER GROUND-BREAKING TRANSFORMATIONAL THINKERS LISTED ON THE WEBSITE WWW.LIVINGDIALOGUES.COM. TO LISTEN TO PREVIOUS RELATED DIALOGUES ON THIS SITE, SCROLL DOWN ON THE LIVING DIALOGUES SHOW PAGE HERE -- OR CLICK ON THE NAME OF A GUEST ON THE LIST AT THE RIGHT -- TO HEAR DUNCAN’S DIALOGUES WITH DR. ANDREW WEIL, BRIAN WEISS, COLEMAN BARKS, RUPERT SHELDRAKE, LARRY DOSSEY, JUDY COLLINS, MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, MATTHEW FOX, JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE, DEEPAK CHOPRA, BYRON KATIE AND STEPHEN MITCHELL, CAROLINE MYSS, GANGAJI, VINE DELORIA, JR., MICHAEL DOWD (THE UNIVERSE STORY OF THOMAS BERRY AND BRIAN SWIMME), STEVE MCINTOSH, FRANCES MOORE LAPPE, STANISLAV GROF, RICHARD TARNAS, MARC BEKOFF AND JANE GOODALL, RICHARD MOSS, PAUL HAWKEN, PAUL RAY, JOSEPH ELLIS, DUANE ELGIN, LYNNE MCTAGGART, ECKHART TOLLE, MICHAEL MEADE, ANGELES ARRIEN, SOBONFU SOME. TED SORENSEN, ROBERT THURMAN, DAVID MARANISS, DAVID BOREN, GEORGE LAKOFF, AND OTHER EVOLUTIONARY THINKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
The best way to reach me is through my website: www.livingdialogues.com. Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.
All the best, Duncan.
P.S. As a way of further acknowledging and appreciating your part in these dialogues, and since I cannot personally answer all of them, I have begun to publish from time to time in these pages some of the numerous (unsolicited) appreciations received from you.
Tom Hayden: This is Tom Hayden and I’m a supporter and participant in Living Dialogues, about our living experience. This is the kind programming and forum that we desperately need.
Host: From time immemorial, beginning with indigenous counsels and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of Western visionaries, such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Bohm, mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a “dia” –flow– of “logos” –meaning– beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now, as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in Living Dialogues.
Duncan Campbell: Welcome to Living Dialogues. I’m your host Duncan Campbell and with me for this particular dialogue, I’m truly delighted to have as my guest, Tom Hayden, known for the many books he’s written, for his role with the “Chicago Eight” forty years ago, from the time that we’re now recording this in 2008. His most recent book is about that time in history, it’s entitled, Voices of the Chicago Eight: A Generation on Trial.
Also of course, Tom has written a number of other books. He’s been active in California politics for over twenty years, until the year 2000; he was an initial founder of Students for a Democratic Society; a drafter of The Port Huron Statement; and other things that we’ll be talking about in the course of this dialogue. Some of his other books include, Street Wars, Irish on the Inside, The Lost Gospel of The Earth, and Ending the War in Iraq. He serves on the editorial board of The Nation and he’s lived in the Los Angeles area since 1971.
So Tom, what a real pleasure to have you here.
Tom Hayden: Thanks Duncan, I’m glad to be with you.
Duncan: One of the things I also want to mention is that you and I were in the same place together when we were both at The Rio Earth Summit. We were in a location there that was known as “The Global Heart” part of the time, and the other time it was known as “The Citizen’s Summit.”
It was co-organized by Rennie Davis, your old compadre from 1968, and Sasha White, and myself. I was on that team and I remember taking videotape of the talk that you gave there in 1992, which was multi-dimensional. You spoke not only from a political perspective, but as I recall, from a larger spiritual and cultural perspective as well. I think that’s one of the little known aspects of your work.
When we talk about your book, The Lost Gospel of the Earth, for instance, you really have quite a range of understanding that you bring to bear here, not just simply an activist from the sense of you having been involved in “street wars,” but a really deep wisdom of having participated in the political, cultural, spiritual life of the nation in many different ways.
So what I would like to do to start this particular dialogue, is to see if you might just spontaneously think of something from your childhood, where if you look back on it now, was there a harbinger of your destiny to come, when you were maybe seven or eight years old?
Tom: We could look at the prenatal influences; it usually leads to speculation about what it means to be an only child. Carl Marx once said, “The point of philosophy is not to interpret the world, but change it,” and if I have anything to contribute, it’s the experience at social change of trying to change the world, so to speak. I don’t have a unique philosophy, ideology, or spirituality.
I was a little kid; I was a big reader; I got very involved in baseball; my parents were separated when I was ten or eleven; I was raised in a Catholic neighborhood that was kind of conservative; my Irish background was unknown to me because my parents had been assimilated; and I went to the University of Michigan with an aspiration to be a journalist, maybe a foreign correspondent.
My favorite reading had been Catcher in the Rye and my favorite characters were people like Holden Caulfield or the real life James Dean. Jack Kerouac’s On The Road had just come out; that was a bible of sorts for many people of my generation. I encountered the breathtaking example of people my age who happened to be African-American and from the South, putting their lives on the line so that they wouldn’t have to live the lives of their parents. That is, they broke the Jim Crow laws and opened the possibilities in the South and for the rest of us.
I was there covering it. I think I’m principally a writer, although I may be known more as an activist or politician, but I was there covering it and I gradually became an activist. So was it me? Was it the moment? I don’t know.
Duncan: It’s very interesting because we can situate you in time and space. You were born in 1939 and so in that momentous year of 1968, you were 29 years old…
Duncan: …28 years old, but you had already been involved in changing the world some years earlier. Perhaps you could tell us a little bit about The Port Huron Statement, your time at The University of Michigan, and the beginnings of SDS, before we move on to…