Am I an activist? People keep asking me this question. And so I ask, what is an activist?
It seems to me that an activist has two lives; an internal life full of self inquiry, study of the world and reformation of process; and an external life in which the internal life is given to action, to form and purpose.
I have a very active internal life. It comes naturally to me; my upbringing cultivated a natural curiosity resident in my very core. It lead me to choose philosophy and biology in college, two fields where questioning reigns supreme. I am not naturally a shy person, but it is fair to say that I am more comfortable in an observer’s role. I enjoy watching the world (internal and external) unfold around me. I enjoy the paradoxes, the interconnection, the self-similarity in nature, myself and my fellow beings. And I am quite observant.
I am not, however, a natural shit stirrer. Maybe that’s because I was raised by two of them and I have observed what happens to shit stirrers—they often get left holding the shitty end of the stick. So, I prefer the role of bridge builder, diplomat, mediator, moving behind the scenes and then watching the play unfold.
Can one be both a behind the scenes person and an activist? At first blush I would say no. An activist has to be willing to be outspoken, to fly in the face of the oppressor, to rage against the machine, to create big waves loudly in order to organizes and motivate, to be a shit stirrer. And I am not that person. But, in sitting with this question I have really tried to look at the essential nature of activists. There are two essential elements to every activist I have ever known, or read about. First, an acceptance of change as consistent and seen as an opportunity, something to be embraced not repelled. Two, a deep, undying love for humanity. Other than that, there are as many ways to be an activist as there are being on this marble.
So, am I can activist? Yes. Hell yes! And do you know what? So are you. For you would not be reading this if you did not think change was possible, likely, even necessary, and if you didn’t care deeply about your fellow beings. So what are you waiting for? Permission? Give it to yourself. Go do something, make something happen. How? What? When? Those are really6 great questions and a great place to start your self-inquiry. Me? I am doing this: www.summainstitute.org and if you are ever in Portland, Oregon, come sit with me and we can swap shitty stick stories and celebrate our unique activist expressions!