James Ragan Shares Wisdom of Activism

Lillian Finch, Staff Writer

 An activist, a poet, a screenwriter, and reformer. All of these words describe James Ragan. He is a successful man who envisions better days for our country.  He came to Greater Latrobe High School to talk to the student body about how we are the change that the future needs. Ragan also talked about the importance of language, how universal it can be and how it can be interpreted in so many different ways. Writing had always been a passion for him. He says it is a form of art that speaks to his readers in different ways.

     Ragan fights for “truth” in this country. He is a firm believer that this is going to be the generation of change. He stands behind many real world problems like climate change and pollution of our oceans. Ragan writes about these problems that would seem meager or nonexistent to some,. But to him, “truth is worth fighting for.” 

     Change is happening everywhere today. This generation is stepping up in order to “clean the mess of the past,” he says. Ragan talked about how this generation resembled his generation of the ‘60s and ’70s who fought for peace and civil rights.  He believes that this generation will be the change that he has worked so hard to advocate for throughout his life. 

     Yes. It’s a simple word but has opened up a lot of different opportunities for Ragan personally. By being able to commit to saying yes,  he was able to get a national award by 22 and he was able to speak to the victims of the Parkland shooting. Without this word he wouldn’t be where he is today. He took it upon himself to say yes to every opportunity that was presented to him. This is what ultimately led to his success and experiences. Ragan said “Today people are comfortable with where they are in life and don’t take the necessary risks in order to succeed.” He says that when you’re presented with an opportunity all it takes is just for you to say yes. “Step through that door and just deal with the repercussions later, he said, “ It could potentially lead to great things. All it takes is one word…yes.”

      James ragan looks to activists like Martin Luther King Jr. He quotes him by saying “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.” 

     Although Mr. Ragan describes the internet as the “Gutenberg of our time”, he sees some of the flaws that comes with “perfection”. The internet is a great asset, but it’s what comes with the internet that is the downfall of it. That flaw is social media. Social media causes us to not communicate with one another. It is almost like a “drug or narcotic to people today,” he says. He tells a story about going on a train and seeing a lack of communication while on it. Everyone was too busy paying attention to their phones. That is until he met a young lady and they both sat back and watched as the people were glued to their phones. He ended up forming a lifelong friendship with this lady who he still today keeps in contact with today. All it took was that one conversation and he ended up forming that relationship. He says that this is what our generation is lacking, a “sense of communication.”

     Finding community amongst each other is what we need. In today’s day and age everyone is turning against each other. Between the gun, violence, and discrimination, we need to unite together in order to really make an impact. James Ragan has learned first hand the hardships that people face. He spoke in front of the victims at Parkland and read one of his poems “If for Each of Us” and watched how it touched the victims of this tragedy. No one is going to fight for us, so we have to fight for ourselves in order to be the change that this country needs just like James Ragan is doing. He said,“You’re the generation I’ve been waiting for.”