Where the Okies Went
Thursday, June 5, 1997 by Dave Winer.
It's coool to write a piece that asks a question.
Sometimes, you get answers...
Glad I asked!
From Chris Nolan, firstname.lastname@example.org, columnist at the San Jose Mercury-News: "It's like Pogo. We have met the Okies and they are us. A lot of the people forced west by the dust bowl came to the valley and got jobs in the defense business. Once the war started, they built airplanes, tanks and guns. So, if you're born and raised here, the Okies could be your grandma and grandpa."
From Arun Gupta, email@example.com: "Perhaps the typical American teenager take on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is what you say it is. It was very different for me, in several aspects, growing up in India, a democratic but socialist country.
"Atlas Shrugged told me that what other people want of me is not automatically right -- there are objective criteria, a demand of reasonableness that must be applied. Technology and making money are irrelevant, really, it is about discovering and then doing what is right and not bowing to unreason.
"Atlas Shrugged taught me that it's important to let people grow to as full a stature as they can. I did not read it as there are gods and goddesses and there are inferior mortals. Instead, there are people who try their hardest and best to do good jobs, and there are the slackers and the parasites. (Socialism breeds parasites and corruption faster than anything else known).
"I come from a very different cultural and social setup than yours, and it is interesting to see what different messages we've received from the same book. Perhaps that is the sign of great art; that it doesn't force you to see things in a particular way so only some people can see it and others don't."
From Kamini Ramani, firstname.lastname@example.org: "I remember reading Atlas Shrugged during a hot Bombay summer and being a really obnoxious person for months afterward."
I'm laughin! (Same here, but it was New York for me.)
From Wesley Felter, email@example.com. "Society acknowledges that extraordinary people exist, but there's no attempt to accommodate them. Conformance is important; if you see things that other people don't, just be quiet, don't attempt to change things."
Wes is a student at the University of Texas in Austin, and one of the most respected people in the Frontier scripting community.
I felt the same way when I was Wesley's age, now I see it differently. If you're exceptional, you'll find your own way. The ability to express your uniqueness, and be heard, is some measure of how exceptional you are. If you want help, look for adults who see the brilliance in your eyes and listen to what they have to say.
On the other side, any adult can make an enormous difference to a young person. If you want to make the world a better place, give a young person a hug -- right now! That's the insulation we need -- friendship between young people and mature people. That's how we'll develop a new philosophy for our society.
The closing chapter of The Grapes of Wrath is amazing! I wish I could point to it on a website. Lawyers: would it be fair use to put it on the web, with an introduction and a literary point of view?
Judging from the response this was the most popular DaveNet piece ever.
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