It probably can’t be said enough that what we admire in others usually reflects that same quality in ourselves. I heard that first said after I had given the eulogy for my socialist mentor George Lavan Weissman who died in 1984 at the age of 70.
George & I could not have been more different in our backgrounds: he was an only child from a wealthy family; I was one of 19 kids with an electrician father. But we shared an antipathy to groveling & grandstanding & a belief in the human race. I got to know him because in 1974, after his first wife died, he remarried a woman in New Hampshire & spent most of his time there. I took over managing his house in NYC where he spent a week each month for editing work.
He was an oddity to me: a man with a Harvard education, wealth, an extremely intellectual person with considerable political knowledge, but no hauteur. No attitude. No condescension toward people like me. I said to him once (heedless of the insolence): “You could have been somebody, George. Didn’t you ever want to be somebody? Why’d you stick with being a socialist?” He answered me, “I always thought self-aggrandizing ambitions were beneath the dignity of a socialist.”
When I gave his eulogy, I talked about that quality in George. George Breitman (a peer of George’s & the editor of Malcolm X’s writings) approached me & said “I never met you before but I know you from your eulogy. I know what you value. What we value in others reflects who we are.” I’d never thought of that before. But when people say they admire my passion for justice, they are really expressing their own passion for justice. And that is the profound affinity which has brought us together on social media.