WOODY HARRELSON's acceptance speech as the Honorary Maverick Award Winner at the 2003 Woodstock Film Festival.
The Honorary Maverick Award was presented to actor/activist Woody Harrelson for his fierce independence regarding art and politics.

 

Well Iíd like to say thank you to the Woodystock Film Festival for naming it after me because that does mean a lot.  I make this joke sometimes, because Iím perpetually late it seems, or at least tardy, that I was born two months early Ė that parts true Ė and Iíve been trying to compensate for it ever since.  But I have to say this is the first time in my murky memory that Iíve been 34 years late, so itís good to finally be here.

I thank all the hippies for helping me feel like I belong.

So, I was curious when I found out I was going to get this award, I didnít really understand what Maverick meant, so I looked it up.  And it turns out thereís this guy named Samuel Augustus Maverick, and he was born in 1803, 200 years ago, coincidentally on my birthday, July 23rd. And anyway, the deal with him was everyone was branding their cows or their calves really, and he wouldnít brand his.  You know, he was a rancher who wouldnít brand his calves.  And so it became like a thing that they called the
se unbranded calves Mavericks.  And it also came to mean an independent individual who does not go along with the group or party.  

 So, I started thinking about people who I considered true Mavericks, and I thought of people like, oh another New York State resident, Ani DiFranco, who I love because you know she couldíve sold out to a record company at any time and she kept independent and kept doing her thing and formed Righteous Babe Records and just became mainstream on her own without the help of any record companies.  And other people like Julia Butterfly Hill who as some of you know spent two years up in a redwood tree to save that trees life and understood the importance of that. Or for example Sean Penn, who had the courage to go to Iraq when all of the substantial artillery of the US Media, at least lets call it the Right Wing Media, was pointed his direction.  Or Howard Zinn, or Michael Moore, or this fella I met one time in India, Swami [Indian name], and after I met him and he spoke for a while, he had talked about all these very fundamental important issues, and I said afterwards ďOK Iím gonna quit this and Iím quitting that, and Iím gonna be doing yoga every day and Iíll be meditating every day for sure, and IÖĒ

And he just looks at me and he smiles and he says ďEvolution, not revolution.Ē


But I have to also take a look at these old time Mavericks.  Let me tip my hat to the old time Mavericks like Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  And if I might just throw out a quote for you from, for example, Gandhi

ďWhat difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy.Ē

And if I were to give you a quote from Martin Luther King; ďOur scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.Ē

Or I might give a quote from, for example, Jesus, who said ďThou shalt not kill.Ē

But so I wonder what it is about myself that might be Maverick.  I mean, itís not necessarily my body or my spirit maybe, I guess it would have to be my ideas, but then you know Iím looking at my ideas, and you know I believe in some simple things like for example, a farmer should be able to grow whatever he wants to grow in a country that you call free.  Yeah?  But then thatís not really an original idea, because the people who framed the constitution had the same concept of freedom, and the people who framed the Declaration of Independence, both of which of course were written on hemp paper.  

I donít think that the WTO should be able to make laws or create laws or have power that usurps the small farmer in countries around the world, including our own, in favor of giant agro-business.  But thereís a lot of people who feel that way too, right?  So thatís not an original idea.  

And I do not think our cars should necessarily be running on petroleum because thatís proven itself not so great for the environment. But then again the guy who invented the diesel engine, Rudolph Diesel, had in mind that it would be run from bio-fuel, which would come from the farmers.  And he believed inÖ it was basically like the Chemergy Movement, the marriage between farmers and industry.  So thatís again not an original idea.

And I donít think that paper should have to come from trees, but then thatís not really a very original idea either, because up until the late 1800ís ninety percent of the worldís paper was made from hemp.

And then I also believe that food should be organic, and that organic should be important.  I know a lot of you feel that way.  But that is not such an original idea because before World War One there wasnít anything, there wasnít organic.  In fact, organic was the brainchild of someone who noticed after World War One that ďDamn, that mustard gas worked great on people, I say we thin it out a little bit and spray it on our crops, get rid of the pests!Ē  SoÖ I donít know what that fella was thinking. But then like last weekend I went to Boulder for the first time, and I hung out in Boulder, and I also hung out in Fort Collins right next to it.  And in Fort Collins, they were having an issue with the West Nile virus and so they were spraying the shit out of Fort Collins with all this insecticide, yeah?  Now, I think thatís a silly idea.  Youíre spraying and spraying to get a few mosquitoes.  I mean, itís kind of like the same concept of bombing a country for a long time in your quest for one man.  And I donít think folks should have their homes bombed by a government whose masquerading like itís crusading for peace when they are invading for oil. To pound our flag into their soil. But everybody feels that way. Thirty-million people on the streets that day.  

So let me suggest Iím not a maverick at all.
Iím just really one of yíall.
Iím an old fashioned guy.
Just trying to get by.
Every once in a while maybe getting just a little bit high.
An American through and through just like you and - just like you.
Proud to be a citizen of humanity.
Not to be confused with inhumanity.
Of the best government money can buy.
And thatís is why I have to say that everybody is a maverick in their own way.
Stand up for what you care about and lead with your heart today.
 
Thank you so much.

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