The Activist Experience
Bad pollen allergy kept me from posting this yesterday. But I did participate in the podcast Labor Goes to the Movies, talking about Activist Explorer and movies focused on activists.
I think of activists as the worldwide, wildly diverse grab-bag of boat-rockers, neck-sticker-outers, city-hall-fighters, tree-huggers, community-builders, movement-makers, organizers, agitators, rabble-rousers, word-weavers, consciousness-raisers and creative gadflies struggling to create a just and compassionate world.
We are all connected. That means all of us who fight for justice, peace and planetary survival—even though we may often not feel (or act) that way. This “us” excludes no one, a collective that needs to become ever more capacious, until we completely neutralize the beast* and create a society of and for all beings on Earth.
Activist lives are full of solidarity, engagement, connection, joy, inspiration, and adventure.
Becoming an activist means developing increasing awareness of our basic connection and working with it. It means resisting the beast’s* constant attempts to make us believe we’re lone individuals trapped forever inside it. It means struggling actively, together, for a world of justice, peace, and equality.
…spends huge amounts of our resources to obfuscate the truth of our connection as humans and the power of this connection. The beast knows that if we become fully conscious of this connection, we can defend and wield it. Nothing will stop us from making the world we want. The beast is devoted to preventing this at all costs. Literally.
Encouraging people to be aware of and act on this basic human connection, and to defend it against the incursions of the beast, and to wield it to make a better world, is what activists do.
As individuals organizing and connecting in collective social movements, activists accomplish incredible things.
In the midst of struggle activists carve out liberated spaces to experiment with creating the new world now.
The activist experience is full of delights, but also dilemmas, challenges, and dangers.
Basic questions to reflect on:
How can we more clearly reveal and strengthen the connection that underlies all our seeming differences?
How can we overcome the distraction, division and isolation that the beast* continually tries to force on us to make us forget our connection?
Thanks for reading Activist Explorer! Please share your thoughts!
*The Beast: a metaphor for the dominant system of inequality and exploitation.
Photos, collages by Juliana Barnet, with images borrowed from internet angels. Top drawing by Rini Templeton (with JB)
Great article. I love your use of language and your appraisal of the pros and challenges of activism. I would call out the beast as capitalism so people can identify the system causing our suffering. Thank you.
I want to add a third basic question, if you'll consider adding it to your list. I'm activist on issues that people who agree with me on other issues may disagree quite vehemently with me on. *Depending on the issue,* I find common cause with people who identify as radicals, progressives, and libertarians. I refuse the whole notion of enemies, and division; I think in terms of ecology and each of us having a niche in the ecology when I think about diversity of opinion among people who do not accept the master narrative, but respond to it in diverse ways. Dear Abby, can this marriage be saved? Do I still have a place in the activist Beloved Community?