|...religion, politics, and other things you should never discuss at bars (but probably do anyways).|
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
I first heard Martin Sheen recite this poem by Rabindranath Tagore in his introduction of Gov. Howard Dean at Union Station in Los Angeles. He earlier spoke the words at a rally for Appalachia in Athens County, Ohio.
"My Country Awake"
I have great respect for Martin Sheen. It amazes me that people will stand up and criticize actors from taking stances on controversial and political positions, and then they'll support Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor of the largest state. Don't get me wrong, I think there are a lot of people in Hollywood commenting on things they really have no knowledge on - of course, we also see this in congress. Sean Penn going to Iraq? I thought that was dumb. Putting up Margaret Cho against Jerry Falwell to debate gay marriage? She was a raving lunatic who made Falwell look like the rational one, and that's no easy accomplishment.
Sheen is different. He doesn't just embrace a cause, he embraces a philosophy. Some in Hollywood work for AIDS funding, others are against fur. Some actor/activists believe in protecting the wetlands, others are against all forms of war. Sheen doesn't narrowly align himself with just one cause - he embraces social justice in a wide array of topics. And he doesn't just use his celebrity to testify once before congress and MC a benefit concert. He puts his time, money, and personal freedom where his mouth is. Mark Pattison writes:
In the past 20 years, he has been on the front line of a lot of obscure and seemingly quixotic causes. For example, in August, he helped finance a trip to Washington for three young children who survived a 1997 massacre of 45 indigenous peasants at a church in Chiapas, Mexico; he also covered their medical expenses. Last November, he got arrested at Fort Benning, Ga., along with hundreds of other people, at the latest in an annual series of protests seeking to close down the controversial School of the Americas, which opponents say has taught torture methods to Latin American military officers. He was there again last month. He's also been a staunch supporter of the United Farm Workers union, getting arrested in a 1997 protest at a strawberry field in Watsonville, Calif.
In an interview with Sheen in the Progressive, he puts some light on his activism. There are two parts in particular I like; however, the whole interview is worth reading:
Question: Why are you so active in social justice and peace issues?
God writes a lot of comedy...
the trouble is,
he's stuck with so
many bad actors
who don't know how
to play funny.