Activism: What can’t you handle?

In UCD a few weeks ago, Patricia Hill Collins spoke of how the US state is one topic that she would never tackle as an activist and a critic. It is too big, too powerful, and she said that she has seen people lose themselves entirely in trying to change it. She knew she wouldn’t be able to cope. So she stays away, and does her best to support people who do try to tackle it.

I feel that way about climate change. I can deal with most of the usual -isms. I know that influencing one person at a time and making spaces for small groups of people to feel safe is worthwhile. I feel like the small difference I can make is real and rewarding. It feels okay. But climate change? It’s too big. It terrifies me in its immensity, and I feel tiny and inadequate to make even the tiniest difference. And like Patricia Hill Collins with the state, I know that if I tried to tackle it, it would eat me alive. So I stay away, and I do my best to support people who do try to tackle it.

How about you? What topics do you find easier to handle when it comes to making the world a better place, and what’s harder for you? Is there a particular topic that, for you, is just too damn big and terrifying for you to handle engaging with?


Activism: What can’t you handle?

10 thoughts on “Activism: What can’t you handle?

  1. 1

    Pretty much all of them. I never wanted to be an activist. I knew I didn’t have the spoons to be an active part in the fight. I got dragged into relationship and family rights by shit in my own life, and try very hard to be supportive and a good ally to the other battles I see going on around me.

    Speaking f spoons, I’m very sorry for disappearing on you in March. I ran out of spoons just as life exploded and ended up running on autopilot for most of a month.

    1. 1.1

      Oh, no problem! My life exploded a bit at the same time, in fact, and it’ll probably only calm down in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully. Pop us a note when you’ve time/spoons and hopefully I will too 🙂

  2. 2

    Topics of feminism in the Middle East. I have no cultural frame of reference for it that doesn’t seem horribly colonial and appropriative, so I just avoid voicing my opinion. The whole Middle East is too big, too complex, and too volatile for an outsider, so I think the best course of action is to defer to Middle Eastern women on the subject of feminism and activism in their own countries, and follow their lead.
    And then I worry about whether I’m being supportive, or whether my support is even wanted. Go figure. :/

    1. 2.1

      Hehe, privilege’ll do that, won’t it? I try to do the same as you re the ME- listen to people there and read as much as I can before running my mouth.
      What I try to do, instead of directly talking about what ME women should be doing, is challenging Western preconceptions about the region and about Islam. I figure that while I may not know much about the Middle East, I sure as hell know a lot about ignorant Westerners!

  3. 3

    Any area where I can’t be absolutely certain of what is right. Which is to say, just about everything. So I just try to be kind to the people in front of me and hope there’s someone out there better equipped to do the social heavy lifting.

    1. 4.1

      Yeah. There’s that. I guess, though.. sometimes I can get overwhelmed by how many fights are out there. And every day involves deciding what I’ll spend my time on today. And those decisions are ones I make knowing that there are fights that take a lot more out of me than others. Know what I mean?

  4. 5

    There’s a new kid in town on the climate change thing – Bjorn Lomborg (ørn_Lomborg) he published in the SundayTimes 30/03/2013 – Sadly behind a paywall.
    No doubt his views will be regarded as fairly heretical in Ireland because they are not the usual doom laden sci-fi stuff that seems so popular. And they would tend to ask the obvious questions.

    1. 5.1

      Oh sorry it’s about activism – The big problem is that we are not really half as smart, as we like to think we are. And I think there is some research to prove that is the case. Not that this fact should be used as an excuse for complacency. It might broaden our outlook though

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