Everyday Activist Life in the Belly of the Beast
What's Different about Everyday Life for Activists?
Activists live in the belly of the Beast we are struggling to transform. We are obliged to manage our daily lives inside an oppressive, unjust global socio-economic system with which we are fundamentally at odds, yet inevitably we find ourselves participating in and making compromises with it. Every day we’re forced to engage with customs, practices and institutions we know to be harmful and against our interests and those of Earth and her inhabitants. Even when we do things we enjoy, we struggle with the tension of knowing that many of these things may not be good for ourselves or the world, or that we have to do them in ways that are contrary to our best interests.
We’re working to eventually change all that, of course, but in the meantime, in our personal lives we choose our battles and do our best to minimize harm while trying to live as much as possible according to our principles. Because we’re caught like fish in the very web of structural injustice and inequality we are working to dismantle, we have to put up with a lot of things in the course of everyday life that we would rather not, tackling immediate problems and getting through the day as best we can, even though we frequently must compromise with, and at times even go against, the principles of justice, love, peace and equality we aspire to for our lives and those of our loved ones.
Increasingly there are ways in the present for us to live the world we want to see, though we know we need to do much more than change personal habits and individual behaviors.
Activists make the best choices we can as we live daily life in the belly of the Beast, while working to completely dismantle and transform it.
The Basic Contradiction for Activists
How does this basic tension affect our relationships, family and work lives, our ways of eating and keeping house, buying things, getting around, using our time, recreation, health and pursuit of healthcare, and so many other aspects, from the trivial to the critical, of living our lives inside the boxes we’re working to break out of and to break? How do we deal with not being able to change everything we’d like to change, being obliged to choose one or two critical aspects of changing the world, while constantly bombarded with all its myriad problems? And how to choose among all the amazing ways to exercise activism?
Delving into this permanent conflict in our day-to-day existence and how it shapes our culture as activists may help us understand more of the collective and individual experience of being activists, insights that can help protect activists from becoming too bruised by the stresses and strains of day-to-day living in the world we’re trying to transform.