Half-Baked Ideas: Blogging, Activism, Indolence, and More!

I got an email today from a cause wanting me to publicize it on my blog. Now, if you read here with any regularity, you know that what I do on my blog is generally, well, nothing. I don't really review books in any substantive way. I don't do author interviews, though I probably should. I really only have a good time recommending books to those searching, and, well, blather on, essentially. I don't really do activism.

But this email made me think. Here's the thing: I do believe in various causes. But I have a hard time figuring out how to be, you know, active about it. For instance: gun control. I feel really pretty clear on it: the lack of gun control is destroying people; it's only an issue because gun manufacturer's have manipulated people into believing things that aren't true to maximize profits; some people should have guns (hello, lady living in a cabin near grizzlies, have your shotgun, by all means!), but automatic weapons with an endless capacity for bullets are out of place in daily life. This, more or less, is what I believe. But when I try to be politically active about it, it never quite works out. We went on a march last year after Newtown. And first of all, the march was a little nutty, because I appreciate the concept of "a candlelight vigil on the Brooklyn Bridge," but truly a late-December candlelight vigil on the Brooklyn Bridge means candles that really cannot stay lit. It's windy there, folks. Also? Chanting. People were leading chants like:

No! More! I-legal guns!

And the thing is, that wasn't what we were protesting. I mean, I think we're all pretty much in agreement about illegal guns. But it's too complicated (and un-metrical) to work out a chant of "No! More! Guns that are allowed but don't make sense and put us all at risk!"

I feel like this about a lot of activism. I feel that there is an "activist personality" and I don't have it. Also: the aforementioned email referred to "raising awareness," about its topic, and I am sure that is a worthy goal, but…. But I am lazy? Is that it? I prefer to view myself as trapped in my own awareness of irony and thus paralyzed.

And truly, as I would tell the person who sent the email if I ever got around to it: Not all that many people read my blog, I don't know that having a badge/raising awareness/having people create whatever small thing you want them to create (cranes! Paper chains! Likes!) will in any way help your cause.

But then I am, I think, being a jerk. Because it's really pretty amazing that some people spend so much time and energy trying to help others/the world in whatever way they can. Also, it is a privilege to not feel spurred to activism. And I am grateful for that privilege. But probably, also, complacent.

So this is all a roundabout way of considering, really, nothing, nothing beyond my attempt at trying to figure out where this blog fits into the world, how we can make things better, how we can manage to keep on keeping on in a world that's so bent and battered.

Perhaps I will donate another $25 to Partners in Health and call it a day.

Your ideas, as always, are welcome.

7 thoughts on “Half-Baked Ideas: Blogging, Activism, Indolence, and More!

  1. I think I’d echo pretty much every single word in this entire post, particularly those that suggest irony. That being said, I never seem to tire advocating for children with disabilities and ranting against insurance companies and the medical/industrial complex.


  2. I think I’d echo every single words said here with a particular emphasis on all those connoting irony. That being said, I never tire of advocating for children with special needs and ranting against insurance companies and the medical/pharmaceutical complex.


  3. And? I love this post. I feel the same way. I am no activist, but you are so absolutely right that it is a privilege NOT to be. And I am also grateful for that privilege. I think you are an activist for Children’s LITERACY. It is a big cause, making literacy a top initiative for ALL children. You do your part, so don’t sell yourself short. We all have our passions, and yours just feeds children in a different way.


  4. What you and Megsie said. I feel guilty about this all the time, but thanks to you I am now going to see myself as “paralyzed by my own sense of irony.”
    The last time I dabbled in activism is when I went to an anti-war meeting in my Texas neighborhood in approximately 2005, and discovered that I was expected to light a candle and sing something that might as well have been Kumbaya, and I came home thinking, What the hell was that for? I have decided to contribute to society by donating to charities I believe in (I like trees, personally, and I don’t like when people are hungry, so that’s what we focus on) and by voting as carefully and thoughtfully as I can. It is not emotionally satisfying, but it suits my level of concerned indolence.


  5. Ha! This is so great! It’s a lot of work to get involved. It’s easier just to think good thoughts about the charity of your choice and send them a check every once in a while. I’m constantly getting emails and reading about No Kid Hungry and I think it’s an awesome organization and I fantasize about my involvement, but…I’m lazy too. Plus, it appears that no one reads my blog any more. I switched over to Word Press and have gotten about 2 comments in 6 months.
    I still enjoy reading yours, a lot.


  6. I always felt kind of put out when I attend a march or a protest of some sort, and there are a whole lot of people there with their completely unrelated cause, handing out their flyers hoping you’ll come to their rally because presumably the thinking goes ‘if you care about red bricks and fluffy pom poms, you surely will also care about green face paint and carpeting options’. And it’s not that I don’t care about red bricks and fluffy pom poms and green face paint and carpeting options, but I resent the presumption. And maybe resent that I am so typecast that they already KNOW that if I support I red bricks probably have a bit of a thing about green facepaint. And I also know that my demographic (female, middle class, 35-45) is statistically the most likely to give in response to solicitations for donations, so now I resent the sterotyping that makes every person rattling a can for charity approach me. But, and presumably this is WHY my demographic is the most likely to give, I also find it next to impossible to say no.


  7. Love the honesty – I feel the same way and have lately come to think of it as macro vs. micro. I care about the big issues, but whether due to laziness, need for triage, etc., I put my efforts into the smaller immediate things that I see in my life – pick up a neighbor’s kid, make a meal for a friend recovering from surgery, drop a note to someone who had a miscarriage. The problem is, it’s easier to feel “good” about the big causes, as the little ones in our daily life are just what we consider part of being a good human being. I have recently decided not to feel guilty about saying no to the constant (it seems) invitations to $100 luncheons for a cause where Condoleeza Rice will come speak and people will eat rubber chicken and clap and feel really virtuous about having attended. Not my thing. And your other commenter is right – children’s literacy and igniting a passion for reading is what you do here and it’s amazing.


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