Daniel Ellsberg – The Most Heroic (and “Dangerous”) Man in America
I was very familiar with the Vietnam War – friends being drafted to kill or be killed for their country or becoming conscientious objectors. And with the power of the release of the Pentagon Papers to create an earthquake in the politics of America in the early 1970’s.
Later I became very familiar with Patricia Ellsberg, leading guided meditations in James Baraz’s Awakening Joy course and in her home for a small group of us. We all went together to see the Oscar-nominated documentary film The Most Dangerous Man in America, as Daniel was called by Henry Kissinger.
This post is a re-post of the letter sent by James Baraz last Friday, the day Daniel died. James has been one of my most trusted teachers and mentors for 30 years. It is a moving tribute to two people, Daniel and Patricia, who lived with as much courage and resilience as is humanly possible, an inspiration to all of us forever.
Daniel Ellsberg died today. Here’s today’s NY Times article about who he was: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/16/us/daniel-ellsberg-dead.html. He was a real American hero, who was as responsible as anyone for catalyzing the country against the war. It was the real turning point of US involvement in Vietnam and also eventually led to Watergate and Nixon resigning. The first and most important contemporary American whistleblower and a true inspiration for me.
The one thing the article doesn’t say is that Patricia, his wife, was the central figure who helped him see the light and become a courageous activist. He loved her and wanted to be with her. The one condition was that he go to anti-war demonstrations with her to open his eyes and begin to see what was really happening.
We’ve been fortunate to be their friends. Patricia developed all the beautiful guided meditation for my Awakening Joy course and Dan wrote a lovely blurb for my book. Jane has been in a peer elder women’s group with Patricia for a number of years. They call themselves “The Luscious Ladies.”
Here’s one of my favorite photos that is the embodiment of Satyagraha, Gandhi’s “Truth Force.” It’s when they came out of hiding after four months as fugitives with Dan facing 115 years in prison. I still sometimes well up with tears when I see it, thinking of the power of standing in your truth no matter what the consequences.
Just wanted to share it with you.