** Pre-Script: I’ve dredged this one up out of the files, as it were. Wrote it back last fall, soon after the steam generator hearing in Ottawa, but never got around to posting it. I’m feeling so … knocked on my butt right now, in these days immediately following the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, & during the ongoing nuclear crisis, that I don’t seem to be able to write anything new. So I was kind of glad to run across this in the computer. It will have to do for now…
I’ve been writing a lot lately about the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) & the proposed steam generator shipment(s). I was digging through my notebook & came across the notes I’d made on June 25 (2010) at the Massey Hall ‘Shout Out for Global Justice’ event on G20 weekend [G20 Protests in Toronto].
That was a fabulous event, with outstanding talks by outstanding activists Vandana Shiva, Amy Goodman, Leo Gerard, John Hilary, Naomi Klein, Pablo Solon, Clayton Thomas-Muller, Maude Barlowe & David Coles. Their speeches can be found here
I really do like hanging out with people who tell the truth. Who are sincere.
Who are also really intelligent, & thoughtful, & who often seem to have more integrity in their little fingers than some… some… (trying very hard to be polite here) some … corporate/government types have in their entire bodies/corporations/bureaucracies/organizations.
I, I, I!! (As in, Ai yi yi!)
It is so much more fun hanging out with people who stand for something than with people who’d fall for anything. Especially mere money.
If you would like to have more plain old fun in your life, I suggest you pick an issue about which you feel passionate (only about a zillion to choose from, hmmm?) – & get off your butt!
I can’t promise you you will love to pieces every single activist you’ll encounter. You’ll find all the negative human traits among activists that you see anywhere else – even, sometimes, too much ego. We are merely human, after all! (In the Elizabeth Lesser/Wavy Gravy lingo, we are all just “bozos on the bus,” hmmm?)
But I can also tell you this:
In the 21 years I’ve been involved in environmental activism, I’ve met the most genuinely awesome individuals I could ever possibly have hoped to meet. I really, really have.
And I’ve had – am still having – a blast!
Gotta love that, eh??
p.s. I hear a lot of “What can one person do?” & “You can’t fight City Hall” & all that kind of nonsense. It’s quite clearly nonsense, because you only have to look around you, & look at human history, to see that it has always been people willing to act who have made things change. Slavery. Segregation. Environmental destruction of all kinds. What has ever changed these things besides people who choose to act? Come on, folks!
There is also some fallacy about being guaranteed some kind of result. A specific outcome. Some of my friends are remarking now on some outcomes they see in the world that they feel I’ve helped bring about. And they’re right – I did help bring them about! (e.g. pesticide by-laws is one key example.) But I wasn’t given any kind of guarantee when I did the work that there would be some kind of “success” or outcome. I knew that there would only be a positive outcome if I did help do the work. (Bit of a chicken & egg scenario, hmmm?) Plus, & unavoidably, whatever I did, I did as one little worker bee in a whole beehive full of other worker bees. 'Cos that’s how it works!
I’ve long found Buddhist thought to be extremely helpful & inspiring. One small string of it suggests that we do what we do – we do what feels right in the moment – & we do not concern ourselves with outcome. So we make the generous gestures, & the apologies, & give money to people on the street, & so on & so on & so on. We work for pesticide by-laws; or toward a zero waste society; or to have our culture use alternative, renewable & sustainable forms of energy; or take part in the movement for sustainable local, organic food systems – & we don’t waste energy on the obstacles. We just fire ahead & do what very clearly feels like the right thing to do. The work is its own reward! I’ve said this on this blog so many times now I must sound like a broken record; activism is its own reward.
So don’t wait to jump in because you’re waiting for some kind of guarantee that you’re picking something that will pay off in a big way, real soon. Just get involved in an issue you feel passionate about. Working with seniors. Working with kids. An environmental issue (or three). Social justice issues. Take your pick, Reader! For sure, your energy is needed!!
And if you pick the wrong one, one that doesn’t make you feel good while you are doing the work, finish up the particular task you’re engaged in (it’s not very cool to make commitments you’re not going to keep), & then move on.
Go where the energy is. Your energy… (& when you add yours to that of other people's, you'll be amazed at the synergies that will result!!)
p.p.s. I wrote about why I figure I am an activist here
‘Quote for the day’ with this post: “A lot of people say, ‘What’s the point?’ That’s an excuse for inaction. I’d rather put a drop in the bucket than nothing at all, and every drop adds up.” ~ Jonathan Brock, on his work for Doctors Without Borders