Tuesday, December 13

Showing our age...

[In spite of the caveats of Abby (goddess) over at Falafel Sex I'm cross posting this at Daily Kos. Comments here are more likely to be read by Blue Gal her own self. Thanks.]

Back to the fascinating subject of old farts, Comrade Kevin asks some interesting questions:

Does maturity mean that you [have to] find tactful ways to be an activist?

Do I worry unnecessarily that growing older means you don't want to fight anymore...or rather you know how to pick your battles?

See, I think of middle aged people as having lost their will to fight when they see injustice...but maybe it's that they manage to do so in less bullheaded, stubborn ways.

And I see young people as having lost their will to fight because they don't have to. Something about that military draft brought out the radical in lots of people who otherwise might have gone over to The Man. For us older lefties, some of us simply want to keep our jobs. Added responsibilities like children and mortgages make you less likely to want to do things like, oh, get arrested. But I think the question goes deeper than that, and we should address here some generational issues blah blah blah. Oh gawd do I sound like an old fart.

AL! Help me out!

Please, you fellow old farts, how do you keep your activism fresh? comments, please...


  1. Beege, I'm more of an activist now than I was since I was a kid (in the late 60's-early 70s). While I don't have the free time to travel to Washington to march or Crawford, I'm active locally, and much more concerned about the direction of this country since having children. In fact, being a mom has made me an activist when I wasn't so much as a self-centered young woman.

  2. Sure, BG. You need a bona fide old fart lefty to jump into the fray, I'm here for you doll.

    Short answer: menopause. It's powerful, take-no-prisoners stuff. I fight because it feels so damn good.

    Long answer: I'm essentially an optimist, which means I have this crazy notion that my activism can and eventually will make a difference. My biggest battle is the one I fight against cynicism.

    The most heart-breaking, spirit-breaking thing about the last presidential election resided in the Left's successful campaign to energize and involve previously disenfranchised and disillusioned voters, only to have many of these voters feel their involvement made no difference in the outcome. We fought cynicism of the most imbedded kind, and lost. My greatest fear is that we will not have a second chance with those same voters.

    Then, I recall all of the passionate, smart and informed young people that I've met in the past few years and my optimism bubbles up again. That, and a smart-ass bumper sticker on my car pretty much keeps me going.

  3. Might the ease of diversion be a contributing factor in youth's political indifference? Certainly the draft, but also the perception that voices aren't heard without great amounts of cash.

    One may imagine the same thing was said about my generation when we were young, but today's youth seem both physically and intellectually soft.

  4. I don't agree with everything you say, Blue Gal, but I do appreciate your boldness to say it.

    Those of us who are activists have our own private causes to espouse...our own axes to grind.

    But ideas are ultimately all we have. A part of me want to believe that each of us are in our own struggle to make sense of our lives the best way we can.

    So, is it wrong to suggest that people in my generation or in any generation need to take a more active position instead of being milqutoast?

    If you take a new agey position, you might believe that some of us are old souls and some of us are new souls. If we are new souls, then perhaps we need to go through several lifetimes to establish our own strong viewpoints.

    Passing judgement on whether people are where we think they ought to be is a dangerous position, because it presumes that we believe that people ought to believe the way we do.

    There are passionate people...you and I included, and then there are others who are not.

    Activists have a tendency to be blinded to their own tunnel vision...to not really listen to the opposite side. And in my own life, I strive to fight against that urge. I strive to actually listen and to not be automatically thinking of the next thing to say to advance my own position.

    It's a struggle and will always be a struggle. But if we all thought the same way, what would be the point of life?

  5. Ironically enough, I don't think that I keep my activism quote-unquote fresh, at least not per se. Sometimes that bothers me, yes. Other times it seems appropriate for my *cough cough* age group.

    No, I definitely do not have the same overt fire in my belly that I did when I was 16 or 20 or 24. (On the other hand, I am still a good ways shy of the "will you still need me, will you feed me" benchmark yet, so who knows what yet may happen?)

    And yes, I did go through years of cynicism and disconnection before getting back to where I am now. One simply cannot maintain an equally high output of fervor for decades at a time, no matter what certain Faux News commentators might wish.

    In fact, I had become so burned out after several decades of activism and several years of professional online community development that I finally turned off, tuned out, and dropped away from it all.

    Looking back, I still can't see what may been the particular hook that drew me back into the fold. Like almost everyone else who has a brain larger than an underripe kiwi fruit, I'd been an increasingly disgruntled citizen ever since, oh, about the time of the infamous Starr Chamber trials.

    But at some point early last year -- and I can't remember precisely when, where, or why (damn that pesky early-onset Alzheimer's!) -- I stumbled across the www.johnkerry.com website, and to my own great surprise I posted something to the Kerry blog and the next thing you know, well, here I am again. Like a bad penny.

    So, at this point in (what the quantum physicists would call 'alleged') time... while no, I wouldn't call myself an 'activist' in the same way that I would described it back in the day, I *am* what I would call significantly active again. And this is a Good Thing, imho.

    Anyway, I became involved with Kerry's posse via his website and their burgeoning online community, and meanwhile I worked my ass to the bone for the JK/JE ticket here on the ground, and I'll be danged if I didn't somehow end up helping a wee bit with the startup of another deliberately democractive online community again afterwards. And it's a mighty hardworking democractive community at that, by golly.

    So -- am I still an activist in the way that I used to be? No. Have I mellowed in my old age since then instead? Yes and no. Yes, I've mellowed. But no, there's no "instead" involved. Replacing that with "and" would be closer to the mark.

    My beliefs today are even stronger than they were way back when, what with the ensuing decades of gradually growing older and (occasionally) wiser. My activities today are less frenetic than they were way back when, too, what with the same etc. and so forth.

    So upon reflection -- and thanks for the thought-provoking thoughtworm, by the way -- I guess that maybe I actually did manage to keep my activism fresh after all. It's just that I'm a whole lot more *efficiently* active today than I used to be way back then.

    (BG, I know this is a rather long comment by way of a reply. But hey -- you asked.)

    I was so much older then I'm younger than that now,

    (P.S. -- I'm not tacky enough to blatantly flog the name of exactly which online community I'm part of these days on somebody else's blog, but it otter be easily gleanable from my email addy... *ahem*)


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