July 15th, 2007

freedom

activism and speaking your mind

here's something I've discovered about activism...

activism is driven by the heart. occasionally it can be driven by guilt, but in my years of being an activist I've learned that guilt only brings about more guilt, and eventually leads to burnout because you can't heal the entire world. real activism is driven by truly wanting to make the world a better place.

what lead me to post on this? the lovely members of weddingplans love nothing but drama as soon as you bring up controversial issues, especially engagement rings. The traditional diamond engagement ring was basically invented by DeBeer's, who had nearly a monopoly on diamonds and wanted to use that good-old-fashion marketing trick where you fool people into thinking something is sacred (for more info, research hydrox vs. oreo cookies). They used good marketing to increase demand, monopoly to decrease supply, and then allowed/encouraged atrocious human rights violations to keep it all going. No, I haven't seen Blood Diamond, but I have been an Amnesty International member for almost ten years now so I got to read about all this fun when it was actually happening. Awareness brought about pressure on countries to watch the issue and pay attention to where diamonds come from but it's not all that perfect, and even if a diamond ring no longer represents the severed hand of an enslaved african child, I think it still represents a bad bad lesson in the power of buying, well, American Traditions.

But you're not really supposed to talk about this, especially not in weddingplans, because you'll make everybody feel bad about their pretty new engagement rings. I mean, we're brides, we get anything we want. If puppies on spikes outside the reception hall are required to make that special day, it should be alright.

so back to the activist philosophy...

I think that every time you speak your mind, you run the risk of offending someone, regardless of whether you're right or wrong. So if you really think you're right you might as well speak up. It's not about being holier-than-thou, it's about finding out who needs inspired. If a friend of yours volunteers at a homeless shelter, should they keep it all a big secret so nobody knows about it? What the hell for? They know that you're probably not going to drop everything to volunteer, too. They probably also know that there are things they could be doing... while feeding the homeless, they're not saving the whales, campaigning for labor rights, providing the poor with low-cost housing or phone banking for progressive causes. and they could feed a lot more homeless by selling the car they drove to the kitchen. but that's not the point of activism. real activists understand that we're all working towards a light and you work within your capacity. you do what you do and you talk about it, and you tell everyone to keep doing better. you encourage each other. you avoid selling your soul to corporate America. and you quit stressing about who's getting offended, because frankly, we've got better things to do. it's only the insecure people who are annoying about it, sorry to say.