Listening to: Mavis Staples
Reading: A pamphlet some guy downtown handed me
Writing About: Activism, Staying Power, Social Change
Okay, so this one runs a real risk of being obnoxious. I know that. I’ll be careful(ish)
In my life I have cared about a lot of things, for small periods of time.
I have been as “green” as any of you.
I had green street cred. I was a vegetarian, I drove a scooter.
Now I am nagged by the ghost of my zeal.
Every time I empty a can of beans I have to think hard about whether I will walk out to the driveway and recycle it, or just use the trash can in the kitchen.
Because, you know, walking.
I have mentioned, in previous posts, my ex-affinity for bumper stickers and patches. If you know anything about the late 90s scene, or if you have ever been around someone with lots of bumper stickers and patches, you can safely assume that I have seen causes come and go.
I have cared, then not cared, then forgotten.
(video exhibit A: Late 90s scene, on the late 90s scene)
Okay, I think I have tempered this enough to get going:
Here are my alternative opening lines:
Do you know what Joseph Kony is doing right now?
The same thing he was doing 5 years ago, only minus the attention of the masses.
In my lifetime I have seen droves of college kids put Xs on their hands.
15 years ago it was because they were “straight edge for life.”
Three years ago it was because they were using their markers to end human trafficking.
Next year it will be for net neutrality.
20 years from now it will be for robot non-discrimination.
Remember those little rubber bracelets you were wearing 5 years ago? What did they say?
Do you remember? Do those things still matter to you?
I wrote and erased 4 more of those.
I said it was going to be obnoxious.
If I’m not right about anything else, I was right about that.
If I were you I would have rolled my eyes and stopped reading by now…but just in case anyone is still with me, here is what has stuck with me as I wrestle with my own sense of power and social responsibilty:
1. I may not have power to change any issue I care about,
but that doesn’t free me of my responsibility to act.
2. What bothers me isn’t what it is I have cared about.
Most things I get fired up about are ultimately good things,
things I think make the world more healthy, just, and holy.
It is the way I have cared that bothers me.
3. Short term conviction or serial commitments to multiple causes
doesn’t really help “the cause” or my own credibility.
4. When I think about people who have truly made a difference,
they have poured their time and energy
into a single cause
over a long period of time.
For me, giving up and doing nothing is not a real option. Justice, Mercy, Compassion, Morality…all of these things are non-negotiable in my faith.
I think what time and "cause fatigue" has taught me is that if I am truly going to engage in a way that makes a difference, I need to find out what God has called me to and use whatever God has gifted me with to stick with it for the long term.Obnoxious tag dump:
Kony 12, End it, Straight Edge for Life, To Write Love on Her Arms, God is Green, Tea Party Express, Livestrong, (Red), Microfinance, save the whales, climate crisis, spay and neuter your pets, ice bucket challenge, ban bossy, no bullies, save the tatas, take10, No GMO, Net Netruality, etc.