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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 22, 2005

activism requires action (curing the blues)

Filed under: pre-06-2006,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 5:57 pm

       This post was almost titled “Not One Damn Mind Changed” — almost a snide, sarcastic piece about the ineffectiveness of Not One Damn Dime Day, the delusional egotism of its proponents, etc.   But, a more positive approach is called for.  To convert slacktivism back to effective activism, it seems important for the politically disappointed (I’m one of them!) to remember:

  1. activism takes action
  2. likely results are highly correlated with amount and duration of effort
  3. preaching to the choir is not an effective way to change minds
  4. and neither is self-congratulation over your moral or intellectual superiority
NODD As the folks at Snopes note in their coverage of Not One Damn Dime Day:
“[R]esults are generally proportional to effort: If the most effort one is willing to put into a cause is to do nothing, then one should expect to accomplish nothing in return.”
A Boston Globe editorial today, “Blue horizons (Jan. 22, 2005) has some good advice to those who are blue over the presidential election:
     More important than making a statement about last November is the need to talk about the future and how people of differing political views might find common ground. That ground might include working to change tax policies favoring wealthy Americans so the country can provide essential services and not burden the next generation with debt.

       That ground might include better stewardship of precious natural resources that can never be replaced and the promotion of global policies that would make America more than a feared superpower and expand its role as a leading world citizen.

      Dialogues on the polarizing social issues, the separation of church and state, privacy rights, and gun control might also help opposing sides to at least hear each other as individuals rather than as hated manifestos.Sporting a bracelet, boycotting the American economy on “Not One Damn Dime Day,” escaping on a cruise for the inauguration, or joining the “Turn Your Back on Bush” movement during the inaugural parade may have allowed the disenchanted to vent but not to change minds.

     America needs to move beyond red and blue and press for a nation united under a bolder, more inclusive vision.
dead end sign RabidNation of Daily Kos, one of the prime movers behind Not One Damn Dime Day and Black Thursday,  sign” tried to defend the call to spend no money on election, and to stay home from work, by noting that the boycotts would not harm small businesses: “Both BT and NODDD have advocated that people shop before and after the 20th, especially at locally-owned small businesses, to make up for any shortfall. Nobody’s going to lose their job or take a pay cut on account of events tomorrow.”  He brushes aside those who note that boycotts don’t work with this retort: “Funny that people would say this during the same week of Martin Luther King’s birthday. Uh, the Montgomery Bus Boycott? The Chavez/United Farm Workers grape boycott? Sure, some work and some don’t. But because some don’t, is that any reason not to try? ” 
  The f/k/a Gang believes that MLK, Gandhi and many others who have led effective protests would point Rabid to the numbered items above. 
Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich found out about NODD on Thursday, from an anti-Bush friend, and
had this to say about it (Jan. 21, 2005):
   “Are you doing it?” I asked my anti-Bush informant, who had just fumed over Bush’s wearing the presidential seal on his inaugural cowboy boots. 

    Her patriotic answer: “Are you kidding? I have no food in my house. I have to go shopping.”

   And that, in a nutshell, is the hard truth of political protest: Good causes often meet bad tactics, and practicality eventually trumps ideology.

Effective protest has to be practical, focused, and active.  Hidden, short-lived, symbolic gestures only make the participants feel better; they don’t make the world better. 

playing their games
on the sly…
pale blue butterflies

it’s become a world
of pale blue butterflies!
pale blue caps!
a blue hanging bell
red blossoms
by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue  deadEndSignN
p.s. If somebody wants you to shun Big Oil for a whole day, point them to Another Silly One-Day Gas Boycott.

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