Stories From California

Tim Robbins: Do Not Provoke The Rattlesnake

"We all have to understand, what was it in our own actions and culture that created Trump.
There was something wrong, something sick in our society.
My suspicion is, that we have lost a sense of moral code. It is a big problem and it has to do with us, all of us."
Tim Robbins, director, writer, actor, musician, founder and artistic director of the Actors' Gang in an interview with soundslikerstin


The Actors' Gang has been a beacon for social justice since Tim Robbins founded the small theater in Culver City 35 years ago. Just a week before Donald Trump's inauguration as new president of the United States, Robbins and his team started their new "Axis Mundi" series to foster civic engagement and social justice within the community.

The first evening was a dialogue between Tim Robbins and Sister Helen Prejean. She wrote the book "Dead Man Walking" describing her own experience with Death Row inmates. Robbins turned this book into a script and a movie with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn as leading actors. This evening was about how we can create social justice in the current political landscape.

I had the chance to talk to Tim Robbins and Sister Prejean before they sat down on the stage. Asking Robbins about the tough questions we have to ask ourselves, like they asked tough questions in their movie 20 years ago, he answered, that we have to ask ourselves, how we contributed to a society that elects a man

who clearly lies and has a tape on him where he makes the most disgusting comments about women. His suspicion: too long people have gotten away with major crimes without being prosecuted, like those talking about weapons of mass distruction and bankers leading us into a major resession. Even though clearly outraged by these facts, Robbins promotes humility and taking responsibility instead of blaming and attacking others.

Like me, he and Sister Helen are encouraged by the movements for social justice in the United States that have been energized after the elctions. Robbins warns: we cannot create change if we attack and provoke, because the attacked will act like a "rattlesnake, it will only bite back and only be empowered. We have to find a way to create change without provoking and empowering the people we disagree with."

Link to (German) story for Deutschlandradio Kultur

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