Thursday, August 14, 2014

A counter-intuitive rule

Advice that I've never been good at transmitting...

There's a time in every activist's life where they became "Politicized" It doesn't necessarily happen all at once, but there's a story behind every activist where they sort of "woke up" to the importance of what they're doing. The difficulties in trying to bring in others is a subject related but different from today's blog post. This is the more important advice that's so hard to transmit: The one counter-intuitive rule which is important for every newly "awaked" activist to understand.


It's exciting when you first realize that you, with your mind, your hands, your will, can actually do something about what you care about. You come out of a slump where you were used to always being handed the world as some kind of passive observer that had to accept what was given to them because . . . well, because. And now, YOU CAN DO SOMETHING!!!! YESSSSSSSS....

Very exciting, by all means! I don't want to damper that enthusiasm. Sometimes, that enthusiasm is all you have to keep yourself going. And that is more what I want to speak to.

While you are excited now, the struggle is called struggle for a reason. And while there's a danger in thinking that things take time -- because perhaps you don't do anything, then, or you just accept what someone else says -- the struggle does, in fact, take time. Social systems move sllloooowwwwwwwwwwwlllllyyyyyyy.

And so what I want is an activist that I'll see around five years down the line, even if it means seeing them only once a month in those five years, rather than an activist that I'll see every day for 6 months who then disappears because they've lost all their energy. Their sentiments and enthusiasm remains, but they've burned out.

It seems counter-intuitive, but doing very little over time is more important than doing A LOT, now that you've AWOKEN, and then killing yourself. You're only human. You have actual needs -- social, professional, physical, esoteric, and so forth -- and power is only one out of many, many needs. You NEED to take care of your other needs. It can seem so harsh -- I mean, depending on your issue, you could [literally] be dealing with life or death issues, and are you really going to choose seeing this baseball game on Sunday when you could be doing research on the police officer that killed your close friend?

And my answer to you is -- YES. Yes you are. And you are going to watch the ball game on Sunday not because you don't care about your friend. You clearly do. You clearly care about the topic. You do things to further the struggle. But you're going to do it because you have many needs, and you're going to actually do better in the struggle if you're still around five years down the line than you are if you burn out in 6 months.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I can't even count the number of activists I've seen flash in the pan just like that.

Which is why I say I'm very bad at transmitting this advice. If there was a better way for me to tell people I'd surely use it. But that early enthusiasm is almost addicting. It keeps you powerhousing, and you think that, with just one more meeting, you can call it quits and go home and feel accomplished.

But the struggle doesn't work that way. It's not a job like building a house is a job. It's a struggle.

And I need you there later down the line, so in order to struggle, you just make sure you take care of yourself.

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