Ordinary Activists

Author Paul Loeb says everyone can make a difference.     
By Sara Friedman ’13

“We learn in our culture not to take a stand, and we learn in particular that the only people who can take a stand are those absolutely perfect individuals who have everything together—and, of course, it’s not true,” Paul Loeb says to a room of Ithaca College students, staff, and community members.

Loeb has spent over 30 years researching and writing about citizen responsibility and empowerment. In his most recent book, Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times, Loeb looks at what it takes to lead a life of social commitment.

Loeb was brought to IC on September 20 by the Roy H. Park School of Communications and the Department of Politics. He met with classes and had lunch with student leaders before he spoke in Textor Hall to an audience of more than 80 people.

Loeb incited audience members to action by reminding them that some of the leading figures in American history, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., were not always great orators. For Grace Wivell ’14, this message stands out to her.

“I really liked the part where he talked about people, whose names we don’t recognize, who affected [historic figures] we do know, and how [those unknowns] played a key role,” Wivell says.

Loeb maintained his message to take risks and not be afraid to fail.

“Change happens when you persist,” he says. “You are never going to be in a perfect situation, and that’s just the way it is. You act in whatever situation you are in. Sometimes things go forward unexpectedly. Try to enjoy the process.”