Sunday, November 18, 2012

Experiences with activism....and some flaws

My experience, and one of the reasons I've slightly changed things, is that while there are many good people who are involved with activism for various social causes, there's a trend, especially amongst younger people to have a real moral blindness about their own lives. There are some folks, not all, but a significant number, who are capable of being compassionate to folks in many other countries, sympathetic to the plights of many people in the U.S., but who when they lead their own lives make unethical and selfish choices that don't fit with their overall compassion at all. I don't think it has anything to do with the belief systems themselves, in fact the charge that because some people fuck up now and then means that the overall cause is wrong is, in my opinion, an illogical cop out.

But what I do believe is that things like pettiness, immaturity, letting a touch of fame go to ones head, turning people into raging selfish assholes, are more present in the activist community than in others because basic personal moral values aren't really a part of the scene. There's morality on a social level, morality on a world level, but to talk about values in a way that has to do with the very micro-level is something that's often off the radar screen. In fact, discussions of things like character and virtue probably sound suspiciously conservative, like something that the Christian Right would put out there, and therefore suspect. It may be conservative, but it's a conservatism that does not rise to anything that the right wing of the Republican Party would endorse. Folks are so concerned with personal freedom, with liberty, and with morality as it plays out on the other side of the world, or possibly in their own communities, that they never look at the fundamental way they themselves act in their own lives.

I need to clarify that I believe that this is just a partial defect, something that can be easily corrected by putting an awareness of those values back in there, and not something that indicates some sort of chasm that can't be breached. I believe that the fights for social justice are good, of course, as well as the fights for equality and liberty, but that on a personal level, when folks are engaging in those fights, more is necessary than what has been present in the past.

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