Sunday, September 16, 2007

When It's Personal

It's easy to abstractly support an ideal (e.g., people should make enough money from their jobs to be able to have a certain standard of living; we should put a stop to global climate change; people who are in love should be allowed to marry, regardless of sexual orientation). What's hard is putting your support of that ideal into practice (e.g. not buying cheap shit made in China at Wal-Mart, and advocating for improved working conditions; keeping driving and unnecessary consumption to a minimum; advocacy on behalf of marriage equality).

I would be the first to admit that I have a lot of ideals that I believe are important (and I named a few of them in my parenthetical comments), but that I don't tend to do much about them until they're somehow personal to me. I suspect I am not alone in this.

I was not a big advocate for marriage equality until it occurred to me that half the members of my first family (excluding myself) were deprived of the right to marry the person they loved, and it wasn't fair! Oh sure, I supported marriage equality in the abstract, but I lacked the passion that I now feel for advocating this position.

Similarly, I was not a passionate supporter of universal healthcare until I experienced the nightmare that is our country's health insurance system first-hand. I discussed some of this last year in my post on Pareto-optimal healthcare and in several other posts on healthcare.

It was experience that led me to understand the great impact of these issues. And if I want to find some passion about these other principles, they somehow need to become more personal to me.


lost clown said...

In all my years of activism I have found that you are not alone in this. Many, many people do not actively (i.e. not just abstractly) support anything unless it is somehow made personal to them.

I don't know waht to say, but there are some things that I also support abstractly, but don't actively work for. But then again, I do so much activism that I think the best I can do is support others in their activities and not take an active role, so to speak.

Sorry, rambling. I hope this makes sense.

lost clown said...

But one thing you can do, and a very powerful simple thing to do, is to call out people on things they say that are f***ed up.

(Really simple) Ex: Someone makes a racist joke and you speak up and say that it's not ok and why.

Just speaking about things to others when the oppurtunity presents itself, or make the oppurtunity to bring up things about people who are disadvantaged in our society.

Speak up about things you abstractly believe in, it helps a lot and is an easy way to make your support more concrete.