Did You Know Nat Weinstein?
This presentation was read by Debbie Weinstein at the Celebration of Nat Weinstein’s Life, June 22, 2014, in San Francisco.
“Did you know Nat Weinstein?” a friend asked. Sure, I said, Nat Weinstein is good people.
I first met Nat through my writing about autoworkers. Out of the blue one day he called me on the phone. “You don’t know me,” he said, “but I love your writing.”
At first I was uncomfortable with the praise but the more I listened to Nat the more I realized that his excitement had less to do with me than it had to do with the workers I was writing for and about. What Nat appreciated about me was the way I was able to articulate the voice of the people he loved. And if what I say rings true to you now, it’s because I’m not saying anything you don’t already know: Nat Weinstein is good people.
Nat didn’t talk to me about himself, nor did he focus on my talents and shortcomings. He talked about his passion: the movement of working people toward the ultimate goal of socialism. He was almost religious in his fervor. He reminded me of those Jews who expect the Messianic age will arrive any moment; or those Christians who feel the rapture is imminent. He lived as if the revolutionary moment, the turning point, was at hand. He was ready. His eagerness never wavered. Despite disappointments, reversals, setbacks, and defeats, his faith never diminished.
In subsequent conversations with Nat I learned the source and power of his conviction was immune to discouragement because it wasn’t based on myth but rather material reality; it wasn’t confirmed by life after death but rather history; it wasn’t girded by fear and insecurity but rather the potential of workers to change the world. His perseverance wasn’t rooted in the imagination of a supernatural savior and a glorious life hereafter, but rather in the actions of people he worked with in the here and now.
The evidence of Nat’s abiding faith is present. Because you are here and dauntless in your commitment to carry on, I can say with confidence Nat prevailed. He was never a simple amalgam of physical characteristics and personality traits. His essence is much greater than any individual could render.
Yes, I know Nat Weinstein. He is good people and we will carry on in solidarity.