Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
“The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
By Mickey Z. / worldnewstrust.com
Sep 2, 2015

Every now and then, we get a reminder of just how far we have to go… of just how much work lies ahead of us. I recently had such a moment when, while perusing a fitness journal, I came across some research being done at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE)

The first reality check was that we need a “center” to focus on compassion and altruism. From there, I read about work being done by two M.D.’s, Lloyd Dean and James Doty, which showed that “when patients are treated with kindness -- when there is an effort made to get to know them, empathize with them, communicate with them, listen to them and respond to their needs” -- it can lead to the following outcomes:

  • faster healing of wounds
  • reduced pain
  • reduced anxiety
  • reduced blood pressure
  • shorter hospital stays

Dean and Doty also found that the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who provide the kind treatment benefit as well. “A kinder work environment helps employees feel more engaged and less exhausted, which is incredibly important to caregivers who often work long and unpredictable hours in high-pressure jobs,” they explain.

This is usually the cue for someone (like me) to rant on the myriad factors (from capitalism to religion to technology and beyond) behind a culture so warped that the value of fundamental social skills is breaking news. Next, I’d smoothly segue into a plea for more activism. After all, who better than activists to lead the way when it comes to empathy and compassion and altruism and the all-important community?

Right?

(insert sad trombone here)

Predators in our midst
As I recently wrote, the issues and factors that splinter communities in the general population -- privilege, propaganda, ego, fear, and so on -- very much exist within the activist world. Radical circles are infested with humans ready to pontificate about justice in the abstract but unready to occupy even the most rudimentary of social skills. This alleged community is devoid of manners, sensitivity, even eye contact. But hey, why bother with basic niceties when there are Instagram likes to be counted?

Thanks to social media and smart phones, our every radical move is being documented in real time and damn, it’s intoxicating. A whole new breed of virtual hero has been spawned -- measured by Facebook shares, Twitter re-tweets, and donation page tallies.

This ego-fueled climate has turned the status of “activist” into the upper rung of yet another human hierarchy. If you need a reminder of how smoothly those on the top justify their actions based on their dominant position, please contemplate the endless examples of devious and despicable sexual predators -- and their enablers and apologists -- in our midst.

If you also need a reminder of how all this dysfunction kills any chance of social change, take a good, honest look around. While we bask in the glow of our “fans” regularly tuning in to our livestreams or sharing our photos or quoting our statuses, every form of life on earth is under assault with no hint of imminent reversal.

Let’s re-cap
We dwell within a culture so distorted and twisted it requires a study to recognize that compassion, altruism, empathy, and communication might be good ideas.

Within this same culture, those we look to as defenders of justice -- activists -- are choosing ego over solidarity and thus replicating the paradigm they claim to be challenging.

What can we do about this in the face of looming ecocide? As I also recently wrote, a good start is accepting that we’ve gotten it all wrong. For activists, this means admitting that the tactics and methods we so passionately cling to and defend don’t work and some have never worked.

How do we discover and implement new tactics and methods? 

Perhaps we go back to basics like, um… compassion, altruism, empathy, and communication. 

Perhaps we learn to listen to and heed the voices most often drowned out by the din of privilege. 

Perhaps we do the work to cultivate authenthic communities in which everyone is held accountable for their behavior. 

Perhaps we start refining and honing our own face-to-face social skills.

Perhaps we challenge ourselves to make eye contact… 

Any other ideas?

***

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here and here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.

©WorldNewsTrust.comCreative Commons License

3.8 ·
1
Trending Today
What Happens When You Rebel Against the Herd
Sofo Archon · 11,596 views today · Are You Truly Living Your Life? You live, but are you living the way you want to live, or the way others want you to live? You choose, but are your choices based on...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 5,753 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,647 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 4,028 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 3,057 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 2,987 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 2,498 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 2,480 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
What Would It Take to Stop the Raids?
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective · 1,333 views today · Responding Effectively to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attacks
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,246 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,147 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
The Charter For Compassion
2 min · 1,108 views today · The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,084 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,023 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 964 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 774 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 560 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 539 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 536 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 392 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong