A Throwback: Truths About Activism

(First published in 2017, this post is just as timely today. )

This is our reality: Daily we are bombarded by loops of violence, threads of national chaos, and far too many hyperlinks to political debauchery. Millions are addicted to drugs, social media, and outright lies. Death sentences like poverty, racism, and inequality continue to plague people of color and the poor, while worthwhile solutions evade even the best experts.

Yet, through all of the mire, strength is emerging. Many have been forced out of denial and recognize that disconnection is leading to our destruction.  As such, countless of Team Me or Army of One advocates, or those suffering from unrequited love from political affiliations, have found themselves throwing in the white flag and opting for something greater.

A call to action has been sounded, in great part, for self and collective preservation. Serve or do or resist have become tunes that ring through our ears like the catchy hook of our favorite song. It all makes sense though, for the longing to live is natural despite the fact that death is inevitable.

This basic desire to do better – to have a part in cleaning up the rubbish and to rebuild some civil sanity – has led to an increase in activism. While many are snug in their roles and are earnestly and boldly doing their work, others are being planted and are just beginning to sprout. Then there are those who are trying to determine where they fit in and what they have to offer. Kudos to all!

But here are some truths about activism.

Activism is brutal and not for the faint-hearted. It’s a huge act of faith and war – a journey that requires steadfast commitment. You’re moved, so you strategically plan and act. However, one really never knows what the outcome will be, or which side the journey will leave you on. One minute, you’re negotiating and compromising, and at the next you may be adamantly refusing to do either. Hard decisions are made, people’s feelings get injured, numbers fall, and opposition occurs just as quickly as the hope that brought everyone together. Yet, just when you’re seconds away from throwing in the towel, everything comes together. It’s usually a win. Not an easy one, but one well worth it.

Yes, I speak from experience.

Activism is not something you bully someone into. It’s degrading to dictate what another should be doing or giving. No one is entitled to impose upon someone else’s skills, talents or resources even if those things will serve some greater good. And, nobody has earned the right to doom another for doing what may be perceived as nothing. Malcolm X summed it up perfectly: “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because one doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think, or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today. “

On the contrary, activism is an act of love with the goal being to serve with dignity, respect and courage. Lead by example. Encourage through perseverance. Exercise patience. Then, mentor.

Most important, activism is not a monolithic act.  It’s layered and nuanced. Some will be the face and voice. Others will dutifully soldier when called upon. Yet, many will sit on their sofas with coffee (or something a tad stronger), firm shoulders, a first aid kit, and wisdom, waiting patiently for you to limp through their unlocked doors, standing ready to stitch you up and infuse you with strength for whatever comes next.

All are important. All are necessary. All matter.

If you’re moved to action, do so strategically and avoid being coerced into a role or a cause that your heart doesn’t bleed for. Determine your space and commit to being faithful from there. Never be ashamed or afraid to say NO. If  you long to sit at a table you can’t get an invitation to, then build your own table to plant your feet under. But no matter what, when you get in there be ready to fight hard. Because here are the ultimate truths about activism: It’s bred from your soul. It’s brutal. But, it’s always worth it.

Nice writing to you again! I’ll be in touch soon.  

Truly yours,

Mo~

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For Those Who Don’t Know Me

Hello.  I’m Monique Danielle, but just call me “Mo”.

I’m proudly middle-aged with a strong measure of good health, so I’m still in the running to attempt the one, two or possibly three things I should have done sooner. The question now isn’t about capability but whether I have the heart for the sacrifice.   Everything cost something.

I believe in love in all of its forms. I’m strong enough to be a part of someone’s life and discerning enough to know when to leave. I care immensely and love intensely, but it is evil to infringe upon another person’s happiness or allow them to interfere with mine.  So I do neither.

I have three expectations of others:  (1) be who you truly are; (2) live up to your standards; and, (3) demand the same from me.

I’m tolerant, even of some things that I may disagree with.  I tend to go left when everyone is going right.  I’m exacting and demanding and sometimes my patience runs really thin. Empathy comes natural to me, shallowness bores me, and human connection drives me.

I strive for an “A” even when I know that my best is a “B.”  I’m innately curious and can never learn enough. In everyone and everything there is a lesson: even a broken clock is right twice a day. (Cliché, I know.)

My daily motto is: I will judge nothing that occurs today. Each day I get better at living this out. Though honestly, it’s a struggle.

My spiritual journey is sacred and personal, and so is yours.  The road you travel and how you arrive are not my concerns. Not because I lack interest, but because I hold in the highest regard your right to define you, your life and God.  I will never interfere with another’s journey, and neither will I allow anyone to impinge upon mine.

If you need to know what type of daughter, mother, grandmother, godmother, niece, cousin, friend or co-worker that I am, confer with someone who knows me well.

Have I done things that I thought I would never do, said things that I shouldn’t have said, made decisions that I wouldn’t make again, apologized when I didn’t mean it, refused to apologize when I should have, loved good people at bad times, left too soon, stayed too long, talked too much or didn’t speak enough?

Yes.  I lack perfection.

I am not etched in stone.  Neither is my life.  Who I am today is the sum of my experiences thus far.  But each day I seek out and thrive for moments that lead me to different places, new people, and purposeful events that could ultimately change it all.

Eventually I may have to reintroduce myself.   But for now, this is my snapshot.

Truly yours,

Mo~

P.S. – Feel free to introduce yourself.  I’m interested in getting to know you.

Wishes

(A Stream of Consciousness)

I wish that I didn’t panic when the the camera stares at me. For once, I would like to not worry about if my skin is too shiny or have to remember which angle will conceal some perceived flaw. Wish that my smile boasted the same enthusiasm that my laughter does when the moment’s not being snapped. Then I’d have an album of photogenic memories to choose from and could join those Facebook challenges.

I wish that I didn’t worry about if the rice will come out sticky, and if so, should I discard it or just let it be.  Because Lord knows just how badly one pot of mucky rice can ruin an entire meal – just how unflattering it looks on the plate. It’s a silly concern with very little truth to it, I know.  But, anyway.  I probably should just go ahead and buy that rice cooker and call it a win.  

I wish that I wasn’t overly concerned with driving through the state of New Jersey after dark. Worried that one wrong turn will lead me onto a winding exit that will then connect me onto a highway heading in the opposite direction of where I need to go. Then I’ll be forced to pull over on the side of a darkened road – probably stretches of miles away from the nearest anything – to catch my breath and start over. I mean, it’s not as if my high beams, or phone, aren’t functional. Wish that I could wander as boldly through my homeland and marvel at the newness when lost just as I do when traveling on foreign ground.

I wish that I didn’t put so much emphasis on whether my handwriting is as beautiful as the soft leather journals that I buy to store these reflections. Wish that the remnants of ripped out pages that once contained scratched through or misspelled words didn’t constantly remind me that my need for perfection made me miss the mark. Now I’m left with one too many empty journals and forgotten revelations.

I wish that these scraps of nothing didn’t often consume so many of my thoughts. And that whenever they invade my consciousness, I could swiftly dump them in the “Let That Shit Go” pile and set it ablaze. Wish that I could declare that revealing this to you has been cathartic and that I’m now healed. But, alas, not yet. Not tonight anyway.

I’m working on it though. Truly, I’m working on it.  

Truly yours,

Mo~

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