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Top 5 Influential People Whose Give-a-Damns Were Busted

Updated on April 23, 2014

Words to Know

  • Facism- the country is considered more important than any one person, group, liberty, or provision. A country under this kind of government is always run by a person called a leader, who has the right of total control over the government and people.
  • Capitalism- Wealthy individuals have steady financial incomes that allow them to function without private or government support. Poorer individuals cannot meet the prevailing standard of living and rely on private or government support.

What's This About

Not everyone is a follower. Not everyone lives life with their blinders on, just following the one in front of it. Some people dare to turn their necks and look at what is going on around them.

This article is for those people. These 5 people listed are some of the most influential people of the 20th and 21st centuries. Not because they evoked a huge, drastic change, but because they used their talents to try and get others to remove the blinders and see what is happening in society.

They wanted to create free-thinkers and self-identifiers. They wanted to break away from the normal and make people think.

That is what I hope you do, reader. Read this article and reflect on the ideas and actions of the 5 listed below. I hope this causes you to form your own ideas and beliefs versus what society says is right or wrong.

With that being said, enjoy.

5. Upton Sinclair

Now, if you were like me and got the pleasure of actually reading Upton Sinclair's The Jungle you'll know the man really, really, really loved him some imagery. And that imagery is some that can never be unimagined.

For those who have no clue about the book, let me fill you in. The Jungle is a story of an immigrant family in America during the 1900's. The family endures many hardships and some gruesome and gory struggles. The book adequately details the lack of attention to detail put on workers' environments, as well as the unsanitary conditions meat was being processed in for commercial sale.

Even a part when a character's finger becomes someone's steak, yummy!

While the book lead to the Meat Inspection Act of 1906, that wasn't the point Sinclair wanted to illustrate. His message can be summed up in this quote from Sinclair regarding the social reception of The Jungle, "I aimed for their hearts, and ended up hitting their stomachs."

At the time the book was composed, America was largely divided by social class. The poor was poorer than poor and the wealth were rich as all get out.

Think back to when you play Monopoly and there's always that one prick who owns everything and takes your money because they can. That's how America was. The rich dictated the lives of everyone and never thought to care or pay attention to the lives of the poor.

Sinclair thought this was messed up. He wrote The Jungle to as a way for the poor to have a defense against the onslaught of the wealthy capitalists. (Yes, homeboy was a socialist) Sinclair wanted the rich to take a step back and go, "Dang, we should help them." But of course they didn't and were more concerned about finger sausages being taken literally. Thus the Meat Inspection Act of 1906.

4. MIA

If you haven't heard the song "Paper Planes" by MIA, I beg of you to please come out from your rock and join society. It's not so bad, there's cool people like me and people who read my blogs out here.

However, most of us do know the song. It's a catchy little tune about getting high like paper and planes and sitting on trains. There's also something about possibly robbing someone or something? In reality, most of us have no clue what the song is about.

But it's SO much more than a catchy ghetto-thug pop song! The song, and all of MIA's work, are a resistance against capitalism, neo-liberalism, colonialism, and orientalism. Not only do her lyrics reflect this, but so does her fashion sense.

MIA is so radical in her political views that the United States banned her re-entry after a tour in Japan. Why? Because she was viewed as a terrorist.

Which in itself is so ironic. MIA songs are based on a radical background where being that her father was the leader of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka caused her and her mother to become refugees in England. She lived her entire life as an outsider to everything. Her culture, her background, even her own family. She was viewed as a threat because of her ties to the Tamil Tigers.

That's what "Paper Planes" is all about it. It's about trying to fit in. It's about how society views immigrants as a threat. It's about thinking for ourselves!

Mind, blown.

MIA is a genius. She's a little out there, but she makes a great point. Give her a listen.

3. Woody Guthrie

"This land is your land, this land is my land. From California to the New York Islands. From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream WaaAtters. This land was made for you and me!"

Good luck getting that puppy out of your head.

Woody Guthrie was a huge folk artist in the ranks of Bob Dylan. He also wrote that song. What's so great about that one song is that bands such as Rage Against the Machine, call it the first protest song.

WHAT?? The song is about how awesome America is! How is that so? Guthrie lived in a harsh time. The end of the Roaring Twenties was over and now there was...nothing. America the Great Democracy was poorer than dirt. Her citizens starved, were homeless, and the trace of the American Dream was nothing fathomable by the harsh reality on the Great Depression.

In all of Guthrie's songs, he writes about hope. He writes about how perseverance through struggles of inequality and injustice lead to a promising finish--to never give up. He also wanted people to just take a look around them and see for themselves how bad America was. People still believed that they were better off and the poor were just poor, that change would come soon and all would be normal!

Guthrie wanted to make people see the reality. That we have to help each other. That we aren't better than anyone and words are just words if they don't match up to what is really going on.

“In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple/ By the relief office, I saw my people/ As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking/ Is this land made for you and me?”

That's an actual verse from the song we sang as children. A verse that Guthrie, alongside Bruce Springsteen, sang at Obama's Inauguration. Change is just a word if the actions of society don't reflect a difference.

2. Paul Robeson

This guy has got to be the most interesting man in all of American History. No joke. Google the dude!

So why have you never heard of him? Because he was blacklisted. He was deemed a terrorist and wiped fresh from history for good.

He was the 3rd African-American to play on scholarship at Rutgers. He also lettered 14 or 15 times in four different sports, and graduated as valedictorian of his class. He became of lawyer shortly after and because of racial oppression left the firm and joined the stage.

The stage is where he found his niche. He was a very popular actor and loved by American's everywhere. He was also a huge activist for independence, freedom, and equality. He used his acting career to travel and assist in causes he believed in.

He went to Spain during their civil war.
Africa to promote self-determination.
India to aid in the Independence Movement.
London to fight for Labor Rights.
And, the Soviet Union to promote anti-fascism.

Ahh, the Soviet Union. The source of the great Red Scare in America, also the source of where Robeson meets his downfall.

He thought the Soviet Union treated their people fairly. He could walk through the front doors of establishments, and eat in whatever restaurant he chose without facing discrimination or racism. Two things he faced daily in his own country in America.

Because of this thought, and the help of McCarthyism, America's love for Robeson quickly changed to despise on account he agreed with something from the Soviet Union. And if you did that, that could only mean ONE thing....COMMUNIST! *Insert climatic music*

Robeson had his passport revoked and was asked to sign numerous affidavits saying he wasn't a communist. He refused them all. Giving this powerful quote,
"Whether or not I'm a communist is irrelevant. The real question is whether American citizens, regardless of political beliefs or sympathies, may enjoy their constitutional rights."

He got his passport back.

1. Jefferson Bethke

If you haven't seen this guys YouTube videos, I invite you to do that now. They're amazing.

He has such a talent and way to minister to people. So why does he face opposition within Christianity?

It's not because we're hypocrites or whatever. It's because Americans have turned Christianity into something that is comfortable. Something that works. Something that it just isn't.

Bethke is asking Christians to remind themselves what being a Christian means. He isn't trying to change the world or society or the Bible or whatever. I just have to make him number one because overcoming opposition within your own group is, in my opinion, harder than on a large scale.

He preaches truth and invites Christians and non-believers to hear and experience what God is really about.

Take off the blinders. See the world.


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