Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ups and Downs

Last week on Facebook, this was my status after a particularly hard couple of days-

"I'm having one of those weeks where I'm incredibly beaten down about all the things I care about, and try to fight for and work for and be educated about and vote in favor of. It all seems like trying to push water uphill with my hands lately. I'm so tired and frustrated. I feel like none of it matters, or is making a difference. The news made me cry yesterday and today. Blech."

It's hard to stay motivated sometimes when you're deeply involved in so many activist circles. I feel defeated, and useless, and so very, very small in the face of all the injustice I see in the world. I read the news every day for about an hour, from all over the world, I try to stay informed, I vote, I register others to vote and volunteer with political campaigns, I volunteer with organizations I support, and I try to be educated on a variety of issues. A lot of times, it feels awesome. Standing in the middle of a throng of people on election night, and counting down to victory, and being so happy that all of my hard work for the previous year and a half had mattered, that felt good. Getting e-mail updates from various organizations I support, saying that this bill or that bill passed, or that this boycott or that boycott worked, that feels good. Knowing that someone I registered voted for the first time, or someone I talked to got fired up to get involved in an issue- awesome.

But other days, and sometimes weeks, when the news is disgusting and there are setbacks and I have bad encounters with people or no one seems to know or care about a huge problem that was on every news website, I get so discouraged. And you know, I'm more discouraged by the lazy apathy than I am by the passionate hate, or the strong resistance. At least when someone is resisting something they have made a choice, they're involved in shaping the world around them. I can, strangely, respect a vigorous and outspoken opponent infinitely more than I can an apathetic and ignorant bystander.

When I'm feeling down, and needing an up, I try and put things into perspective. For example, I think about the fact that the women's suffrage moment officially started in 1848, but we didn't get the vote until 1920- 70 years of struggle. I also have a collection of quotes I've come across over the years that makes me feel better. Motivated. I think this is one of my all time favorites-

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”- C. Chavez

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