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“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world,” Robin Williams. A friend named Paul Gagnon put that quote on Facebook as he puts a great quote up every day.

Robin Williams lived that quote. Before his death he was one of the entertainment industry’s most progressive performers. He financially and vocally and energetically supported progressive ideas and causes and Democratic political candidates time after time after time.

He and Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg did a series of annual televised fundraisers for homeless people called Comic Relief. I think I still have the t-shirt. The shows were hilarious. How could we not be with three of our greatest funny people? But it was Robin that I kept waiting to come back on stage. His riffs on anything were amazing.

Robin chose to do movies that opened up deeper or unexpected truths to us all. He was wonderful as Patch Adams playing a doctor who treats people not just disease, mirroring the real Patch Adams, my friend Dr. Neil Shulman in Atlanta who’s a brilliant doctor and a tireless organizer and advocate for healthcare for all. His performance as the US Army disc jockey in Vietnam was both hilarious and a warning about the horror of war and the ultimate horror of wars of choice. Of course, there are many other examples.

His riffs on George Bush were biting and satisfyingly true:

- “It’s the end of the reign of George the Second. The reign of error is over.”
- “What will [Bush] do when he leaves the White House? A speaking tour is out of the question.”

Robin Williams was one of us progressives with a heart of love and compassion, a commitment to justice and to the human race, and a commitment to creating a more perfect union.

His great struggles became our great misfortune. Like so many brilliant and creative people he suffered from addiction, which he certainly battled. He also suffered from a probably interrelated disease of depression which eventually overcame him. I am way too familiar with both these diseases. They are debilitating and often terminal. And I am way too familiar with the too often result of suicide. Robin did not choose to be an addict or alcoholic or suffer from depression or to take his own life. These are all diseases which can be treated, but like any incurable disease require constant vigilance and support.

If you suffer as Robin did, get help right now, today. These are diseases not weaknesses. Do not wait.

And do what’s right by Robin. Remember his brilliance and the joy he gave us in life.

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