Monday, January 21, 2008

Activism vs Stairmaster

For a portion of my life, I was on the “opinionated activist” side. 15 - 21 had been the peak for such outburst of energy. However, towards my mid-twenties I began to refrain to an observatory state.

Part of this “cooling down” process was by natural causes, such as marriage, childbearing, and living abroad. However, a greater part was intentional. The more I retreated from the crowd, the marching, and the raising of signs, the more absurd it all seemed.

There’s something repetitive about it. Repetitive as in walking the “Stairmaster”, convincing yourself that you are climbing, and connecting your eyes with the virtual mountain on the screen.

The immediacy of the exercise: quickening heartbeats, shortness of breath, gained miles, lost calories, sweating, and arrival at the top, it all gives immediate pleasure and a sense of achievement.

But soon as you get off, another person climbs, and they go through the very same virtualized pleasure and achievement, and they get off too. In one enclosed area, people are constantly getting on and off bikes, stairs, weight stations, etc, some to gain the life, others to lose the guilt. But they do not seem to “get there”…

The cycle doesn’t stop. And people come tomorrow, the week after, and the month to come. Like wise, the activists. Their message seems headed for the goal, but where is the goal? And why do they never get there?

Once you are an opinionated activist, you must make peace with the fact that your life has become about coming to the same room everyday, and going through virtual climbing. If you don’t, you won’t survive. Your frustration with not arriving at a final destination will suck the life and will out of you. You will develop an animosity with people who have chosen the comfort and not the workout. The street and not the room.

Activism is a choice, and so is non-activism. But often the two sides condemn each other for their choices. For their “uselessness.” Activists seem “angry”, "pessimistic" and "complaining" all the time, while non-activists seem "philosophical", "destructive", and "pragmatic". And that is to be expected due to the varying nature/dynamic of each.

Activism is about movement, and observation is often about thought. One is vertical and the other is horizontal. Hardly ever do they intersect, largely because of their misconception and prejudice of one another. When they do, change begins to happen.

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