There are two things on my mind these days. The first is that activist burn-out can creep up on us when we least expect it. The second is that we must be very careful about vilifying or extolling the virtues of either some individuals or governmental agencies. Here’s what I’m thinking…
Here in CT our hard work to pass a GMO labeling bill was finally successful after what seemed like a very long campaign. Aside from supporting other states in their efforts to do the same, through phone calls and emails to their representatives, this Summer was shaping up to be more relaxing in terms of activism demands. Then along came news of the NSA spying debacle, an explosion of new information about the TPP and the Supreme Court decision regarding voting rights. Add to this our continued need to speak out about fracking, global warming, women’s reproductive rights, college education that is now becoming economically impossible for more and more students, “stop and frisk” activities that continue in NYC, and of course the continuing antics of Monsanto and its biotech cronies.
Blessed as I am to know amazing people who keep me informed of all sorts of issues and campaigns, I receive almost daily pleas to help save polar bears in the arctic, primates in the rain forest, corral reefs, wolves, abandoned pets after natural disasters and many others too numerous to list here.
Each and every one of these issues is of prime importance to one or more aspects of our society and planet. How do we make a choice to allocate our limited resources (time, energy, understanding and physical presence) to some and not others? When I delete the email or pass over an article about one issue or another, I often experience a gnawing sense of guilt for not caring enough, for making a judgment that one issue isn’t as worthy of my time as another or that distasteful attitude that “someone” will take care of it.
I am not writing to share any words of wisdom about how to solve the problem of living comfortably with a limited “to do” list as an activist. I am, rather, writing to ask others for their ideas about how to go about this. No one can do everything but sometimes we feel that everything is our responsibility when we see so much that needs attention.
My second thought is about our responses to the Supreme Court specifically and our government in general. When the Court ruled as it did about voting rights in the South, I posted a picture of all nine judges, 5 of them wearing KKK hoods. I felt as justified in that post as I did when I railed against all of their Monsanto rulings. How easy it is at times like those to dismiss the Court as an enemy of the people, not to be trusted or admired. But how do I reckon those feelings with my overwhelming respect for their decision regarding same-gender marriage? I realized this dichotomy just seconds after my first celebratory post to Face Book. Wait a minute! Isn’t this the same Supreme Court that I just summarily denounced?
I think the important lesson to be learned here is that each instance, whether a decision by the Supreme Court or legislation at either the state or national level must be judged on its own merit. A CT politician once raked over the coals for inaccurate accounts of his military service is also a most valued ally on the GMO labeling front and not every Republican or Democrat can be counted on to vote as expected at every turn. Sometimes the perceived bad guys hook up with the good guys. How do we form temporary alliances with groups or people we sometimes see as the enemy or comfortably laud their accomplishments and decisions without feeling as though we’ve sabotaged our own broader agenda?
So, fellow Pagan activists, I submit these questions to you in the hope that our collective answers can be of help and offer perspective to each other when it all seems a little too much to deal with. We’re in this together and I look forward to your thoughts.