activism is not an event, it’s a daily commitment.
i have been involved in protest movements since i was 17, when my principle concerns were the nuclear arms race and political prisoners. i moved into anti-apartheid and anti-colonial work shortly after. i’ve repeatedly been let down by the traditional Left but i go where the people are or i go alone – i must resist.
i am least interested in whether a mass protest achieves concrete results right away. that rarely happens. and it’s not the point. the point is to build a movement that lasts and grows over time so its cause can no longer be avoided.
look at all the progressive movements of the early 20th century, the civil rights struggle, the protests against the war in vietnam. they all took time. they all took commitment. and they took repeated actions by a wide swathe of society to get results. that’s how mass movements work.
the immediate effect of mass rallies and the like are to change the narrative for the day; this is what happened with the 2017 women’s march in DC and elsewhere. and if the protest/rally is large enough, or widespread enough, it remains a marker in the news that reporters keep referring back to. why does bernie sanders still get so much coverage? because large numbers of people got off their butts and went to his rallies. these are the kinds of results you can see.
[while i find anything related to the bible extremely tedious, i’m including this for my parents and other christians. do you think the money lenders in the temple stopped lending money after jesus trashed their space? no. then was jesus doing something utterly pointless? seems weird for the son of god. and for the church to think the story important enough to keep in the bible. protests matter.]
i protest because i am a doer. i must ACT. i feel so much physical pressure building up inside my body, so much psychic dissonance, that i MUST take action. sometimes that’s going to a rally or a march. sometimes that’s standing alone on the corner of kirkwood and walnut holding a sign. sometimes that’s singing peace songs alone to agitated cops. i pick actions that are committed to nonviolence. i pick actions where i will be educated. but i ACT.
i protest because the children and young women in my life are watching. i want them to know they too have a voice, that they have power, that they matter. and i want them to be conscious of the power of solidarity so they can take strength from it when they are most bowed down.
i must resist. for my self, my spirit, my soul. i could not live with myself if i just said, “this has nothing to do with me.” i believe that each step towards freedom for one group without privilege is a victory for all. i believe in the morality of resistance. i don’t want anyone coming to me 30 years from now and asking, “where were you when the world needed you?”
i resist because it is the right thing to do. i believe in goodness. i believe it is a process. i believe we have to work at it to grow and become more human. i want to be good. i want to walk the path of justice, equality, wholeness, diversity, and freedom. this is what i’ve chosen for myself. so whether you stand with me or stand aside asking, “what’s the point?”, i will resist. i resist because it is the right thing to do. a better world is possible.
i wrote this on my phone, so please excuse the lower case.