Author’s note: As a little disclaimer, I should say that I take no issue with protesting—in fact it is an excellent vehicle for freedom of expression in regards to a certain political cause.
To change the world, we must change ourselves. I thought this much was obvious.
I’m not trying to intentionally ruffle any feathers here, though that is not always a bad thing.
What I do take issue with in regards to protesting is this notion that waving a vaguely interpretable sign at people we don’t know is enough to change the world, because it is simply not the case, and I am tired of people believing that it is.
I have gotten a lot of flack among friends for questioning the agenda of some present activist movements, which in actuality makes me want to inquire much more deeply into them.
If I am getting cussed out for suggesting that a particular political movement ought to have a more specific set of goals, then there is a problem. For example, rather than aspiring to “deconstruct the patriarchy,” what exactly would we like to see changed? Do we even know within ourselves what we want, what our true motivation is, or how to go about it?
If people are being accused of bigotry simply for taking a different political approach—for not swallowing ideologies professed by people they do not know—then maybe that is indicative of the insidiousness of some of these activist disciplines.
Anyway, I am not here to make a political case, for at this stage in my life I really don’t sympathize or identify with either end of the political spectrum.
I’d like to ever-so-kindly suggest to young people that it might be a good idea, before we go about waving placards and shouting slogans, to firstly find out if it is within the realm of possibility that we are completely out of touch with any kind of reality as a result of our own inner-turmoil. We have to invest as much effort in understanding ourselves as we do the social issues we fight for.
Just a suggestion.
There are three types of relationship. One’s relationship with oneself. One’s relationship with other people. One’s relationship with the world at large.
The first two must be dealt with if we ever aspire to contend with the world at large.
If someone has terrible relationships with other people, and is a deeply conflicted and confused person inside, then why the hell would I trust them to know what’s good for society at large?
I don’t trust that kind of person: would you?
I understand if some of this may come across as distasteful, and if that is indeed the case, then I know that I am doing the right thing because what I am saying is actually highly practical.
We must commit to fixing ourselves as much as we are to joining email lists and showing up to the rallies.
The most effective way to transform the world is through making ourselves into powerful and dynamic individuals, and, in my humble opinion, throwing up signs is not the best way to go about this.
I think there is a deep cynicism amidst my generation. We grow up hearing that the climate is collapsing, the economy is unstable, there is war and poverty all over the world, and so on and so forth.
The results have not been that of eliciting a generation of responsible and caring human beings; in fact it has been quite the opposite. It has created a deep sense of nihilism among millennials, which often leads to flat out narcissism.
Of course, this is not the case for everyone, but even some of my friends who I love and respect are susceptible to these tendencies of profound arrogance and pessimism.
These qualities of being are not going to lead to a better world.
Want to make the world a better place? Then we need to straighten ourselves the f*ck out.
Read books. Meditate. Engage in open dialogue. Be reflective. For god’s sake—be optimistic for a change!
Has there ever really been a better time in human history? Have more people lived in comfort and security ever before?
If we are downtrodden and nihilistic little weasels, then it is highly doubtful we will muster up the energy to rightly impact the world—let alone be kind to our damn neighbors.
All of human history has culminated in us having the tremendous privilege of being able to improve ourselves as human beings and expand our own perception, so for f*ck’s sake, let’s take it rather than complaining about things that we literally have no control over!
Let’s get our sh*t together, so we can actually clean up some of the mess that past generations have left behind.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Yoli Rammazina