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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Why Don't I Shut Up... Or Why I'm an Activist



I have had lots of well meaning people telling me that I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. That I need to lay low and keep a low profile. That especially when I'm going through divorce, I need to stay under the radar, not do anything or say anything public that can jeopardize anything.

But you know what? As well meaning as people are, and as well intentioned as their comments are, its not advice I plan on taking. I don't plan on shutting up.
At all.

Because I am an activist.


I didn't used to be that way. I used to be someone who just wanted to fit in, be popular, do what everyone else was doing. I thought people would like me if I tried to do what everyone else was doing, be like everyone else, and just try to fit the mold. You know what happened then?

For a time, I did fit in, somewhat. For a time, I did have friends. I "fit in", but as Brene Brown says, I didn't belong, because I was making myself be someone that I wasn't, so that others would accept me. I toned myself down, kept quiet, and just followed the herd.

But quite frankly, that wasn't me.

I just didn't realize it then.

About 11 years ago, a friend of many of my friends passed away at quite a young age. Hearing people eulogize her and extol her virtues, seeing how much she accomplished in such a short amount of time (she passed away in her early 20s), it made me think long and hard about my life. Even though I never knew her.
Because at that point, I realized I was a similar age. And if I died, I didn't know what people would even have to say about me.
And that changed me.
And made me decide that I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to pass through this world unnoticed. I wanted to make a change. I wanted to make the world a better place, if only so that I would leave a legacy behind me when I was gone.

Since then, I've been an activist in so many ways.

I was an activist about unmedicated childbirth.
I started this blog to become an activist about extreme frugality and anti consumerism and to make these "uncool" things "cool".
I was an activist about homeschooling.
Healthy eating.
Home birth.
Politics.
Mental health.
Divorce.
Mindful money management.
Anti ableism.
Feminism.
Classism.
Combating hate and bigotry.


The list goes on and on. I realized that its not just about a specific cause, because over the course of my life, my causes that I choose to focus on change. But at heart, what I am is an activist.

I got inspired to write this post today because of a story that happened whose conclusion was today.

There is a supermarket/charity that works in my community, where they have super low prices, and even with the low pricing, the profit from what people spend goes to charity to provide food baskets for poor people in my community. It's a win win situation- people get low cost groceries, and they also benefit poor people while doing so.

This supermarket, lets call it A, started off from someone's front yard and progressed to a small store in the center of my community. It was one day a week at first, but they wanted to open it more days per week but the town council didn't allow them to. Eventually they got semi permission to open 2 and then 3 afternoons a week.

The person in charge of A requested permission from the town council to open every day and they weren't allowed to. Additionally, there was a storefront right next to theirs that was closing down, and they asked permission to be the ones allowed to rent it, so they could expand the store. They were forbidden from doing so.

The person in charge of A then called for a town council meeting to request permission to open full time and to expand their premisis, and they requested that everyone who wanted that to please come.

The environment in the town council meeting was an interesting one. There were people in "the establishment" that were arguing why supermarket A shouldn't be allowed to open full time. There were claims that it would hurt the other supermarkets in the area, but proof was brought that it wouldn't do that. There were arguments against opening A longer hours and with expanded premises, but honestly none of the arguments made any sense whatsoever. I thought at first that it was just because the arguments were taking place in a language that is not my mother tongue, but the more I listened, the more I realized how inane the arguments were.

So I stood up and decided that I wanted to say something.

Loud and clear in front of everyone, I explained that as a non native speaker of the language, I was hoping that maybe there was some nuance that I was missing. That maybe there was some valid argument against A's expansion, but so far, I heard nothing logical.

And then I struck them with a scathing blow.

I said "It seems to me that the only reason not to allow A to expand is because A helps the poor folks in the community, and you don't want to do something that would allow A to expand because that would encourage more poor folk to move here, and you don't want "those" kind of people living with you."

To say that I caused an uproar would be an understatement.

There was a screaming match. Lots of shouting. Accusations. Shouts of "How dare I?!?!" Screams of "You're so ungrateful, we do so much for the poor people in our community, how dare you say that?"

It was ugly.

But as soon as the furor died down, the head of the town council walked over to the head of A, and signed a contract allowing them to expand their premises and open full time.

It took a while for it to actually happen, but today, approximately a year after this uproar, A opened up full time in its newly expanded premises.

After that town council meeting, I had various people (especially those who work with the local poor population) walk up to me and tell me that what I said was so true, that was the only obstacle to them expanding was what I said, but no one had the guts to stand up and say anything about it.

And that is exactly why I do it.

That is exactly why I don't shut up.

There are so many injustices in the world today, but many people don't stand up for so many reasons. Either they don't know how to, are afraid to speak up, are intimidated, think they shouldn't make waves, don't want to be hated, don't want to be in the spotlight.

But if people don't stand up to injustice, it doesn't stop.

I firmly believe that one should be the change they wish to see in the world, and its something I try to do in my day to day life.  I don't want to leave the world as I found it, I want to improve it.

And that is why I am an activist. And why I won't shut up. Because you can't change the world by keeping your profile low. And this is my nature, to try to make the world a better place.

Telling me to keep quiet when there's something I feel strongly about is like telling a leopard to change its spots. Not gonna happen.

And I'm proud of that.

3 comments:

  1. You should be proud of yourself, good for you. We should all try to follow your example!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Park benches and garbage bins should be removed as they might invite homeless people. (Sarcasm)

    ReplyDelete

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