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Saturday, September 7, 2013

In Defense of the Non-Activist

Activism: “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.” I was tossing about ideas for another blog yesterday when I caught sight of the Google logo for the day. It was honoring Jane Addams, a pioneer settlement worker and activist. I needed to refresh my memory about her and found much to read. It set me to wondering what it is about me that has kept me from being an activist for some worthy cause. After giving it some thought, here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.Maybe I’m not born that way.
2.Maybe I’m not unselfish enough to spend my days that way.
3.Maybe I haven’t enough money to make much of a dent in what’s needed.
4.Maybe I have been burned in the few times I’ve tried.

Well, as usual, I don’t know exactly where this blog is going or if it will get published, but let’s start with numbers 1,2 and 3.

These would be the easy answers. “It’s just not in the genes,” is one. That covers a multitude of shortcomings. Also, I was neither born into wealth or poverty. My parents were hard-working middle class people from hardy immigrants who came to America in the early 1800‘s to seek freedom and a good life. They were industrious, honest and prosperous, but none of them attained fame or great fortune. They were God-fearing, respectable and good neighbors, yes, but other than a great grandfather who fought in the Civil War on the Union side and was fatally wounded, and one grandmother who became a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, I know of no activists among them.

As for my own record of activism, about the only time this label could have applied to me was when I became a “Nixonette” prior to Nixon’s first run for the presidency. My friends talked me into it and I wore the uniform, went from door to door, and did all those things we were supposed to do. Nixon lost, and of course I was sad. I didn’t campaign for Nixon when he ran the second time but I voted for him. When Watergate came along I stood staunchly behind our man but those tapes with the “expletives” that needed to be erased appalled me. How could such an honorable man use profanity or language unfit for children to hear? Or lie to his fellow citizens? Though he did many good things I was disillusioned with politics and never again became active in campaigns.

I’ve taught Sunday school, volunteered to take bag lunches to the homeless, contributed to community projects like the Main Beach park in Laguna, as well as being active in church affairs, but the bulk of my efforts have been more in the line of trying to be a good wife, mother and grandmother, neighbor and friend. My modest donations in the past to worthy causes have been sufficient to bring letters with calendars and note papers and return address labels to my mailbox everyday, but I’m learning to be more selective in answering those now. 

You’ll notice I left number 5 blank. I’m out of excuses and I’m not sure I’ll be publishing this blog anyway, but if I do, it will be to applaud publicly all those men and women who stand tall in the history books for their efforts to help the needy and to establish equality of rights for all people.They are towering examples of what it means to be activists.

No need to enumerate the ways I’m trying to stay active now, but I get up every morning grateful for each new day and the opportunities it brings to me. About the only social life I have is with my family and a few friends. And here's one I could put in the number 5 slot: I pray daily for the world and its great needs. Nights I usually sleep well, but here’s a little something I saw in Suzie’s, (my centenarian friend’s), bathroom. She’s not been an activist either, but she’s lived a good life and is greatly loved.

“If you can’t sleep, go to God in prayer.
He won’t mind; He’s awake all night anyway.”

Apologies are done now. In the years I have left I may yet become an activist but, if I don’t, I think I’ll be doing the best I can to help others and, to quote another friend of mine, “That’s all the angels are doing nowadays!”

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