Activism in America

September 09, 2005

The definition of Activism is 'the use of direct, often confrontational action, such as a demonstration or strike, in opposition to or support of a cause'.

When you think about it this country was founded by activists who would no longer allow King George III to dictate how they would live. The final affront to the colonies, and that which brought so many over to the side of the revolutionaries, was 'taxation without representation' (think Boston Tea Party). There was a lot more to it then that, but you get the idea I am sure. Maybe because I live in the heart of Boston and drive down by the historic area where the tea was dumped, maybe because I often drive by Lexington and Minute Man National Historical State Park on my way to Hanscom to get our shopping done, but whatever the reason, I often think about how this country came to be what it is today.

And what we are, the rights we have, the freedom we enjoy and the myriad of laws we have, all of them came about, in one form or another, through activism. It took activism in the 1700s to break ourselves free from British rule, in the 1860s this country was divided and the Civil War raged because of the disagreement over the right to own slaves, it took most of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s and many women suffering to ensure women the right to vote, and throughout the 1900s we have fought a constant battle to ensure that all people in this country are truely free and share the same rights no matter race, religion, ability level or wealth. This is a battle we as a nation are still fighting.

One voice raised for a cause can start a large movement at any given moment. There are countless reasons that people start fighting to make something better whether it is for all the people or a select group of people only. Either way, it eventually takes many people working together to force something to happen that should be common sense in most cases.

But activism is a harsh master, you can become obsessed by it and obliterate the rest of your self and your life to it. There are also detrimental affects and plenty of criticism and prices to pay for being an activist, not all of them, in the long run, worth the cost that the movement would ask of you. And not all are cut out for it or have the ability to be part of a movement. It takes a true yearning, strong will and sense of self to sustain the level of intensity and energy that must be present to make the changes that others may oppose. But it can be very rewarding too. The trick is learning to balance the needs of the movement towards the change you want to make happen with your own needs and those of family.

Luckily, this country is full of activists and in the future I hope we will see many more positive changes in this land I love.

Is it perfect yet? No, and in the world of mere mortals I doubt it ever will be. But the origins of this country, in my opinion, are founded on activism and as such we will always be a nation of activists.

A quote I like that gets to the heart of this, for me, is a comment Albert Einstein made:

"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."

More on this later..........

Rebel in Boston

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