When a writer promises, as I did regarding Mark Rudd, the next installment of a topic and doesn’t deliver, he violates his contract with his readers.
There is more to Mark Rudd than the brimming bucket of anecdotes I took with me when I left him on Wednesday morning. By posting “Breakfast with Sheldon Adelson,” I hurried to satisfy my compulsion to share something of this man—a man who was once the point man of a movement intent on altering the course of history. Today, he seems a simpler soul. With me he was affable and welcoming from the first minute, his teddy bear looks disarming.
I began several postings about Mark, but each went off in a direction I was unprepared for—an alert from The Muse of my Right Shoulder that I was not ready to write.
Since my visit with him, Mark and I and have sustained a lively email exchange. He pointed out that when I reported “he did not much care for the other Sheldon Adelson,” I watered down the dialogue. His word of choice was “evil.”
Mark has given me phone numbers of friends, invited me to a fundraiser for a cause dear to him, and taken an interest in my writing.
Our continuing interchange and my reading of his book and essays have revealed more facets of his character. They’ve given me more insight into the life cycle of the SDS and Weathermen, his 30-year period of political humility, his evolution as a political thinker, and his re-emergence as an agent for change. Follow up questions abound, and it would disrespect readers and subject alike to write too soon.
The supply of topics may rival those of Mountain Man Roy. Choosing what to write has been a dialogue with The Editor who resides on my left shoulder.
One of the discussions I had with The Editor was to clarify what the blog is about. A Year on the Road is about people, places, and events as I am experiencing them. But the blog not a pulpit.
Mark Rudd is a story. His story is a political one that cannot be separated from the man. Although the blog is apolitical, I seek the political points of view of people in order to report them. The blog’s passenger/readers are free to comment and express their politically flavored experiences without creating a contentious forum.
Much of who Mark is and what he has to say will provoke visceral responses to your personal politics. There will be people who find some of Mark’s points of view so disagreeable it might be easy to skip past a thoughtful response and go to a more incendiary one. I ask you not to be baited.
When I understand them better myself, I will write more about:
His shift from violence to nonviolence as a revolutionary tool.
His enchantment and disenchantment with Che Guevara.
The humiliation he felt when the failure of the Weathermen spelled the death of the broader-based, more moderate SDS.
His return to activism.
His plans for the future as a mentor to young activists.
My plan is to know Mark better, to better understand his political coming of age, and write about my takeaways.
In the meantime, my Year on the Road will go on, continuing to poke my fingers into people, places, and events.