Unemployment and the end of the world: Sen. Hayden’s take on social movements

Bailey Hill



On Wed., February 27, Whittier College’s Villalobos Hall hosted a plethora of Poets—student, faculty and those who were “dragged” along in between—to listen and discuss the significant and relevant topics of socioeconomic and political concerns with a well-qualified resource, California State Senator Tom Hayden.

Department Chair of Political Science Professor Deborah Norden presented an opportunity for students interested in political sciences, social sciences or any individual interested in the realistic future of America, to confront significant and potential impacts of the social movements.

Professor of Sociology Les Howard was thrilled to have Senator Hayden present in front of the student body. “This is a guy who became a national leader by being one of the founders when he was at your point in his biography and has basically kept the faith as he has grown since,” Howard said. “He is significant!”

Hayden has been a contingent influential leader and advocate toward radical social movements. He has been directly involved with these movements while utilizing years of experiences with well-rounded knowledge regarding the structure and functions of politics and society. Hayden was an original co-founder and initiative of the Student for a Democratic Society, while simultaneously obtaining a highly honorable leadership position of the 1960’s Student Movements.

In addition to Hayden’s direct efforts with social activism, he has served the nation democratically for multiple years while executing social demonstrations and campaigning. Hayden has represented the public interest through legitimate political titles and positions since 1982. Aside from his positions within the California State Assembly as well as the California State Senate, Hayden utilized contemporary social issues as a means to produce a raised social awareness and recently publishing numerous works, including Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Hurson to Today, and The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama.

Hayden stressed the potential impact of social action. “Never forget that you can change the current situation or equation, like the ‘stone upon water starts a ripple,’” Hayden said,referring to President Kennedy and the democrat idealisms of the public people.

Hayden presents and demonstrated the realistic outcomes and attainability of social involvement and the significance of public political voice through his metaphors and references of personal experiences, emphasizing the interconnectedness of individual and collective empowerment. “Social activism is a school of thought,” Hayden said. “It is not ‘anti-this or that’, but rather as a supplement to philosophy and previous education through great professors. This is the ultimate source of knowledge.” Senator Hayden refers to this experience as the “school of thought theory”.

“Please expand on what you mean by this theory and approach,” senior Natalie Smythe said. “It is empowering to discover and learn that I was the source of my own knowledge through the direct experiences [social movements],” Hayden said. “I took my experiences as a motivation to put forth further action. It is essential to act on the basis of your own doubt. If you don’t forcefully act on that doubt, you burn-out and stop learning.”

Explaining a baseball game—more specifically, the tense moments between the pitcher’s curveball and the hitter—Hayden used the intimate relationship as a metaphor for approaching contemporary social issues. “Resolve doubt without fear or courage but instead resolve that doubt with preparation to whatever might come,” Hayden said. “Issues are resolved when we collectively anticipate the situations coming at us. We are compelled to do it because it is an element of being human.”

Hayden branched and progressed onward from philosophizing the situations toward finding concrete political approaches and solutions. “We need to face the issues, experience the issues and introduce ourselves and others to the root of oppression,” he said.

Hayden believes that solutions to the social movement start with a willingness to help and reach out to others. “By questioning and interacting with oppressed and marginalized groups we can begin to ask ‘How can we help?’” Hayden said. “Better yet, ‘How can I be of service to you?’ By asking and demanding, a concrete and propelled combination is developed which result in outcomes—reform.”

Hayden obtained a worthy applaud from the Poet community as well as the national community. Hayden has endured social movements and activism in the 1960’s, served in the California State Assembly and California State Senate and has followed up all previous accomplishments by authoring and publishing numerous books regarding social issues and movements.

With the constant existence of social issues in the nation, the material presented and discussed between Hayden and the audience was relevant and empowering.

Hayden closed Wednesday night’s lecture with a call of action. “We need to feel the tension of the political and social forces,” Hayden said. “This tension is never stagnant and never safe. This becomes our responsibility to confront.”


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