You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Matt Damon narrates this 2004 film directed by Deb Ellis and Dennis Mueller. It is a documentary about Howard Zinn’s life as a renowned novelist, historian, and activist, with biographical, political, socioeconomic, and cultural viewpoints. Zinn previously worked as a shipyard laborer in New York before entering the army as a bombardier during World War II. He raised his social status up to a teacher and professor where he became an academic rebel and led many demonstrations against social injustices like segregation of the black people, institutional racism, and the miserable conditions of them. This team manages to win by a margin of one goal against the opponent. In this situation, we have only one scorer but the whole team receives praises as the effort of each one of them is believed to have increased their chances of winning. Howard in his article is trying to challenge readers on the need to be a winner through self-satisfaction and fulfillment.

According to my opinion and understanding, this quote is so reliable in the sense that it emphasizes the need to help others in fulfilling their dreams. In appreciation of this article, teachers are a living testimony in helping their students to excel in life and examinations without expecting returns. Students, later on, appreciate them through praises and thanksgiving for turning their lives around. In this case, teachers are seen not to be self-centered and are excellent for the performance of their teams.

This quote, therefore, is a well thought and calculated so as to give hope to those who feel not part of the win in life. In Howard Zinn’s article optimism of uncertainty, this quote is intended to give hope to anyone not sure of the future and the outcome. Thus success can be viewed in different dimensions including supporting others to win.

This is line with my title ‘the dimensions of success’ in that one doesn’t have to win to be successful, but there is self-fulfillment in being involved in helping others win. This makes you a winner at your level. This, therefore, gives life another dimension of success.

Second quote

“I am totally confident that the world will get better, but that only confidence can prevent people from giving up the game before all the cards have been played.”

In this quote Howard is trying to explain through his belief that to make the world a better place, there are factors to overcome. This includes; risks, world pressures, fear, insecurity and much more. Therefore he has a major belief that to overcome all these; confidence is key and paramount. Every challenge in life needs to be faced with supreme confidence. He also uses the game of cards to signify the dirty side of life. According to my understanding, Howard believes life is like a poker game and to win you have to be confident of yourself. There is need to raise one’s standards as these are significant boosts to own confidence.

If confidence is upheld in every scenario and thus means taking risks, then this world will eventually change to a better one. About my title ‘the dimensions of success’, confidence is one of the dimensions. There is need to be self-motivated and focused so as to overcome hurdles in life. A self-motivated individual is a confidant on in the right track to change the world. Changing the world does not mean traveling across the globe, but to do so, it has to start at each one’s doorstep. If so is done by everyone across the world we are destined for a brighter future.

Most of the world renowned scholars had to pursue confidence in their experiments so as to make inventions that have so far transformed the world. ‘The Wright brothers’ had to overcome their fears and challenges faced to invent the airplane. This is a clear example of the role of confidence in making the world a better place. One has to be confident of his actions and activities.

Third quote

“to play, to act is to create at least a possibility of changing the world.”

According to my title ‘the dimensions of success,’ this quote offers to scenarios to be successful and to make a change. Thus to change the world one has to play and act. This just means that every human being in the whole world has a role in changing the world. It this does not matter at what level one is playing. There are various professions one needs to act in so as to make a change i.e. agriculture, politics, teaching and much more. Everyone in this profession endeavor to be more successful and when you get successful in your lane and others do the same world will automatically turn into a better place worth living.

In the ancient days, scientists played and acted with professionalism in their areas of thought making world greatest inventions. Most of them wanted a name, but later their inventions turned out to be world changing. They therefore simply played and acted at their levels, and through that, we have a better world today than it was before. Thus any effort to perform any action at own capacities, in the long run, will play an essential role in changing the world and make it a better place.


In conclusion, through this quotes in the article ‘optimism of uncertainty’ by Howard Zinn, he tries to give hope to everyone that no matter the conditions they are in they have a role to play in changing the world for better. These are very inspiring quotes that challenge everyone and gives a different view of life and success. The title ‘dimensions of success’ is in line with this quotes in that regarding giving hope, the author of the article also tried ti give another direction of being successful. Thus everyone is to play their part and be successful in their capacity, and the long run changes the world.

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