The Activist

The Activist

Photo taken during Restore the Fourth rally on Fourth of July.

In the early days of Occupy Protests, I visited the Occupy Philadelphia encampment a number of times. I found it slightly strange that most of the protestors I met there introduced themselves with their "activist creds" - I had none. Many longtime activists iterated that they had never seen a spontaneous movement take off as Occupy had.

I listened to many invaluable talks and lectures, and also a good amount of nonsense. After an economics lecture by a college professor, an activist, who was impressed by my questions to the lecturer, asked me if I thought the Occupy Movement would change the world. Yes, Occupy had accurately diagnosed what was wrong with the "system", and specifically the economy - more so than anything in the media - but "changing the world" is a huge task. I told him that I thought the movement would lose momentum under pressure from authorities - an unacceptable answer! His eyes turned to fury for a moment there.

I respect anyone who has not lost their sense of empathy and compassion, and is willing to stand up not only for themselves, but the society in general. Conformity is one of the biggest diseases of our time. Of course, careerists and even psychopaths make the same claim, that they do what they do for the sake of others. But, conformists and psychopaths lack moral courage. Activism is not just one thing; Each one of us can contribute in our own way, as much as we can, so long as we are well informed and working for the right reasons.

Recently, Srda Popovic, a well regarded Serbian political activist was exposed, collaborating with the intelligence firm, Stratfor. Stratfor is regularly hired by corporations and the government to manage PR issues, spy on activist and other groups, and "define the parameters of the debate".

Wikipedia defines activism as: "Efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis". Most dictionary definitions are parallel or worst. Under that definition, opportunist lobbyists or corrupt political organizations or ignorant idealists may also be regarded as engaging in activism. Srda Popovic is not an activist! A much better definition of activism would be, acts performed by "very well informed" and "morally courageous" persons to further social change in the right direction. "Activist" is not an identity one can simply assume. It is the "act" that matters, less, the person.
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