To Live Now As Human Beings Should Live

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For those dreading the ghastly impossible becoming real on Inauguration Day, an alternative vision awaits: The 2017 Peace Ball will celebrate "voices of hope and resistance" at a gathering meant to mark our collective accomplishments and "remind us to look for moments of joy in order for us to continue to do the work we do." Organized by Busboys and Poets at the new Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture, the Ball will feature almost 30 artists and activists, from Angela Davis and Alice Walker to Van Jones and Phyllis Bennis. One of several alternative inaugural events and protests, this one in particular reflects the poignant mandate of Carrie Fisher cited by Meryl Streep at her Golden Globes speech about the times: "Take your broken heart, make it into art."

The first Peace Ball in 2009 was hosted by Howard Zinn, who remains its guiding spirit.  The literature for this year's ball quotes at length from Zinn, as powerful and prescient as ever: “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction...The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

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