What makes somebody an Activist?
Most people desire to live in a society based in justice, peace and respect for all. Yet most of the time, most of us focus on living the best individual life we can, conditioned as we all are to ignore, rationalize or feel powerless to change the injustice, oppression and exploitation we feel and observe around us.
Most of us do resist egregious unfair treatment of ourselves and loved ones, at least sometimes. However, we only bridge the gap between the personal and the political when we step, jump, or are pushed by harsh experiences beyond the bounds of private struggle into the collective sphere, starting, joining and/or spurring on collective efforts to challenge injustice and transform society into a place of justice and compassion.
Activism is not a yes or no thing, but a continuum. Often beginning with a first outrage, or a first moment of awareness, a person’s path to stepping out into the collective sphere to take action may be straight or winding; speedy or the result of a long, slow burn of anger at historic injustice to oneself, loved ones or others.
Even after the first step, taking the next, and the next after that, is a complex journey that is different for each. Yet activism, activist culture, the activist experience, have essential characteristics that cross lines of issue, place, constituency, ideology, history and more.