Sat, 06 Dec 2003

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ruminations continued

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I've just been pondering how too many people disdain activists. Yes, I accept the fact that people have jobs and have families to take care of and sometimes they can't afford to be idealistic. Survival ends up coming first. There is nothing wrong with that. You can't help anybody if you're dead.

But the disdain I often encounter is based on an observational fallacy. Because of my youth, I am often challenged to name my accomplishments. I am often assumed to be foolish and lacking wisdom. Not to say that I am all-wise and all-knowing, but I rarely get any credit for any wit I do have. The assumption is that I don't know what I'm talking about, without any regard to actually getting to know what I'm like.

This is the nature of the typical challenge: "It's not enough to just talk about something. You've got to do something about it."

This is, prima facie, a valid challenge. But here is where the fallacy comes in. Especially in American society, people tend to be very results driven, end-point oriented. Slow and gradual processes are disdained. No one ever gets credit for working in the background and making sure things run smoothly. Hilariously, these people are sometimes the first ones who get laid off, because when they get reviewed, they have no significant "accomplisments" to show for. And then, of course, once they're gone, the CEO starts wondering why productivity has dropped, ends up blaming it all on the tanking economy, never once realizing that they probably just pissed away their greatest assets.

Activism, despite all our talk of flash flood revolutions, and the torrential downpour of change, is a slow and gradual process that rarely shows any outward sign of accomplishment. But, truly, it is like a rainstorm. Occasionally it does occur, but for the most part, a single rainstorm is not going to dramatically alter the landscape. Maybe a few new rills here, maybe the mountains lose a few micrometers of sediment. Nothing to write home about. Who cares? But, given time, and enough rainstorms, even Mt. Everest will get eroded away. As Gandhi once said, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is important that you do it."

Back to my point. So, when an activist is challenged to "actually do something about it," what can he or she say? If their goal had been already accomplished, would there be any need for activism? Of course not. So since it's not accomplished yet, what evidence could an activist possibly point to that would show that their words are not idle? Nothing. Of course a work in process will have no outward sign of accomplishment. There will be no finished product if the product is, in fact, not finished. So of course it will look like the activist does nothing, and just spouts out inflammatory, combustible rhetoric.

That, of course, is the nature of the revolution. When the Powers that Be allow freedom, the revolution is invisible, coursing through the water table underground, moistening the soil, welling up quietly in hidden valleys, concealed springs. When the Powers that Be demand obedience, create oppression, decide to dam up the rivers and fill in the seas, the revolution rises up like a raging river, like the wild tide on a full moon, like a typhoon, a tsunami. JFK noted this. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

I admit, the burden of proof is on the teller of the tale. But how can you prove something that is, for the most part invisible? You can't. You either have faith, or you don't. And most people in this time of the Age of Humanity have very little faith. Myself included.

07:03:24 6 Dec 2003 > /soul > permalink > 41 comments

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