It’s been two years since Dad passed and, in remembering him, my first thought is how lucky I am to have had a close relationship him the last years of his life. He was very focused on our family those later years, and one of the things I miss most is our conversations about what was happening in our lives and what was going on in the world. It was always very satisfying to tell him something that made him laugh or that he found hard to believe, and at those times he would always say, “Are you serious?!,” or “Wow!” After all that Dad had seen and done, I just loved telling him something that he’d find amusing or unbelievable.
Clearly, we’ll never forget that Leonard the artist gave life to one of the most-enduring and beloved icons in popular cultural history. But it’s worth remembering that Leonard the humanist felt compelled to engage in causes and movements he believed would make our homeworld a better place. As Nicholas Meyer once said in a documentary about Dad, “He was a self-made Renaissance Man. But he had a ubiquitous curiosity about everything going on in the world whether it be art, photography, politics…” Most people don’t know this, but from the very beginning, my father was politically engaged and supported a variety of social causes. He campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in ’68, made appearances in 35 states for George McGovern in ‘72 and campaigned for Mike Dukakis, who became governor of dad’s home state of Massachusetts in ‘75. Together, my parents supported numerous social causes and with his second wife, my stepmother Susan, Dad continued to push for social justice, equality and fraternity.
My dad came by his interest in the wellbeing of others honestly, as he was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, my grandparents, who came to this country due to repeated, violent attacks — pogroms– against them and other Jews in their village. Dad was also very much aware that freedom, equality and social justice are a part of our Jewish heritage and that through Tikun Olam, repair the world, we bear the responsibility for the welfare of society at large.
Whether you’re left or right, blue or red, Bajoran or Cardassian, it seems fitting that we all should follow Dad’s example; to meet the challenges that face us by engaging in whatever social/political issues appeal to our passions. People of diverse backgrounds coming together to work for a common good is in no small part the legacy of a certain sci-fi TV show that was first broadcast in the ‘60s.
It’s easy to see the things that separate us from one another. But if we can come together to bring about social changes that make this planet a better place for all, then, if he were alive today, I have no doubt as to how my father would react:
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