Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Am Not An Activist

I am not an activist.

It's just not something I do or have inclination to do. I might rant about topics where I see injustices or other issues. I might volunteer to help with activities or groups that do great things for people in need. But I'm not an activist.

You will never see me out holding a sign protesting something. But you might see me bring water to those that are protesting out in the hot sun. You might see me helping out at a find raiser for a group that does great things for adjacency or activism. You might see me putting people in contact with each other so they can both do more through their mutual involvement.

I am not an activist, not because I don't support the causes, nor because I think activism doesn't do any good or can't. No, I think it's often necessary, and I think it is effective and many cases.

I am not an activist partly because I'm to a certain point shy and an introvert more than anything. I don't like being the center of attention in a public manner. I don't mind it one on one, I don't mind it in small groups, but I don't like being in the public eye. I'm a private person, despite the fact that I often say my mind and tell things about myself I should keep to myself.

I want people to listen to my ideas, to be inspired by my words, to learn what I know, to pay attention to me. I'm under the delusion that I have something to offer, that people can learn from me and grow from what I say and share. I want people to have the best life they can, and to see and be able to address those things they are doing, or not doing, that keeps them from having the best life they can. I want to inspire others to greatness, to help others grow, to help others be safe and happy.

I know that life isn't fair and often things beyond our control get in the way of happiness and what we desire and need in life. But I want to do what I can to lessen these things, to limit the possibility of these things, to limit their impact when they happen. And I especially want to help people learn not to be the cause of their own unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. To not limit themselves. To realize they deserve better and inspire them to aspire to this.

Activism is one method that can help limit the things that prevent our happiness or prevent us from reaching our dreams and desires. I'm a firm believer in this. But it's not something I can do, not because of ability or anything else, but because it's not where my heart and vision lies. I am all for activism, and I work to inspire those that can do great things in that area to do so, to not let anyone hold them back. But I personally focus on the behind the scenes portion, and on helping those that are hurt or suffer either for their activism or because activism has not changed things fast enough.

Activism is a great thing, but its goal is social change, and social change takes time. The battles fought today will help protect and benefit those in the future, but the issues and problems in society today break and hurt people now. Those that can and have the vision to should fight to change things, but those for whom those changes aren't soon enough need people to stand with them, to help them walk again, to be there for them, to help them move forward the best they can. Change in the future doesn't protect those who are hurt now, and helping them is important as well.

My vision for life is simple. I want to be a safe place for people, and to facilitate the creation of safe places for them. This includes many areas, this includes many people, this takes many forms.

Here are a few of my specific visions. They aren't all of them, and they aren't fully developed even as concepts let alone plans. Some of these are further off in time than others, even to begin planning, let alone birthing them.

  • A public house. I want to create a space, in a suburban or semi-urban environment, not intercity, not rural, or at least not too rural, a space that is for people, for the public if you will. I want this to be a safe place where people can be and have community, a community house if you will. A place where they can just go and talk or hang out or play games or read or do anything, as long as it doesn't hurt the safety of others. A place where people can be loud at times, quiet at others. A place where you don't have to buy anything, you can bring food in to eat with others. A place where there is a cafe or similar where you can buy food or drink if you choose, at a price that helps offset expenses but isn't designed to make money, doesn't cost people much. A safe community space, a safe public space. 
  • A program to help people be authentic. More specifically, a program to assist those that are hurting financially because they chose to be true to themselves. People lose their jobs or careers in quite a few cases when they move away from what is expected of them. I'm not talking expected as far as job duties, but as far as social expectations that should not be relevant for employment but often is. Things like sexual orientation, gender identity, religious practices, cultural practices, disabilities that aren't visible, and many others. I'm not talking about people using these things to hurt others but when they try to be true to themselves. People lose housing for similar reasons. I want to help create something that will give assistance to help people get through the rough period where they lost things necessary to live a good life but can't get to a point of rebuilding and enjoying a life more authentic. I want to help people make their rent and utility payments to they can worry about what they should be working on. I want to help people get skills or contacts needed to build a new career. I want to basically do what the Department of Vocational Rehab in many states is supposed to do for those who have a disability that results in job or career lose, but for those who experience the same because they chose to be true to who they are. 
  • An intercity youth center. I want to create a space in the heart of a city or in a rough area of it that is a safe place for the youth. A place they can find food if they need it, find a place to stay if they need it, can get help learning if they need it, basically get any need they have met. Met without strings or requirements. And a place that is safe for them to go, that they know they can go to when they are in need, where they know it is safe. 
  • A small business to help small businesses and startups to get the technology they need to do what they do best. Technology solutions can be hard for small businesses and startups. They don't have the staff to research and determine what will provide what they need. They don't have the traffic or volume to get discounts or good services or support from big companies that can provide the things they need. They don't have the expertise to develop complex solutions that aren't their core business but can facilitate their business. But combining multiple small accounts and basically becoming a reseller of the services that can help them allows both for a focus on the expertise on their behalf, and allows for cheaper services and better support than their individual needs would allow when dealing with the large venders of such services. Specifically I'm talking about things like voice and video conferencing, video streaming, web caching and content delivery, and similar, though other technologies would likely be included. The goal would be for the small business or startup not to need any technical knowledge about these things at all, but for them to say, we would love to be able to do blah, or we have this need, and for my group to be able to say, here's how we can make it happen, do the leg work, provide direct support, and make it happen with as little work for the small business or startup as possible, and at as low of cost as possible. 
  • A retreat and research center. A place in a remote place where people can go to get away and stay as long or as short as they'd like. A place with the solitude and environment for contemplation that a remote abbey or monastery might have, but without any vows, and no restrictions except avoiding disrupting the other people there. And a library containing materials on every subject we can get and as much as we can get, where no materials leave the center, but anyone can come and research and use the materials while they are there, spending as long or as short period of time they want or need. And with a social space similar to the public house idea, where those who want company or social interaction, or a break from contemplation or research, can go and talk and have community. 

These five things are my big visions at the moment, and the things I want to accomplish at some point. And they are pointers to what I need to do now, the type of people I need to make acquaintance with, the skills I need to develop, the resources I need to gather.

I am not an activist. But I want to help people and help the community, to inspire and provide, to nurture and support. The people need activists, but they also need safe places and safety nets, and to be cared for before the time passes necessary to make the social changes activists are working toward.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What Does Love Got to Do With It

Tina Turner's words echo in my ear as an ear worm, just the one line over and over.

"Oh what's love got to do, got to do with it"

It echos not because the song itself is speaking to me, but because my thoughts brought me to the same line from a different direction.

I took a survey this evening, not one of those Internet quizzes that are so popular, but a survey about important things, things that can touch deep, things that can brush up against hurt or joy, strong emotions of one variety or another.  Several of my answers surprised me, and revealed things to me about myself I hadn't realized previously, but knew to be true as soon as I identified them.

The one that surprised me the most was a question about what is important in an intimate relationship.  It listed quite a few options, with ability to select as many as apply, and to list other things not listed, at the end.  Some of the options included emotional connection, non-sexual physical touch, sexual physical touch, love, and intellectual connection, plus a few others, and I included several things in the "other" category.

What surprised me is love wasn't on the list of things that are important to me in an intimate relationship.  Not that I don't want it, but that what I want is the emotional and intellectual connection and to feel safe and valued and important.  That sexual physical touch wasn't important to me but non-sexual physical touch was, is important, but not surprising.  I already knew that.  I desire to be held and comforted, not necessarily to have sex, not that I'm against the idea, it's just secondary to the other.  But, back to love.

Part of this of course relates to what I'm currently going through, a bit of jadedness in relation to love, a feeling that love didn't fulfill.  But that isn't the part of the picture I saw when I answered the question.  That I entered a relationship based an believing I was in love, and I won't begin to claim I know at this date years later that I wasn't, or that I was, it's too raw and painful now to say for sure looking back.  I just know I believed myself to be.

It was something different.

I realized I could be content and happy in a relationship where I didn't feel in love with the person but had that connection.  I got in both the relationships I have had because I presumed I was in love and that meant I should be in a relationship.  But being in love without the connection, is loneliness and pain even if with someone.  I can see myself being in a relationship where I could say, with no guile and no hurt or pain, that I am not in love, but am happy with the person, and they with me, and love is of secondary concern.  Just as non-sexual physical touch is what I desire, and sexual physical touch is secondary.

But where does that leave me?  Is it bitterness or pain speaking?  Is it that I don't understand love?

It might be that "love" for me is a construct I built to try to make the world make sense and as I know myself more, that construct feels less real.  That I made this "thing" in my mind I called love, and I presumed because I named it love, that that is what love innately is.  That "thing" in my head failed me, so I presume love itself is what was broken, not my construct I baptised as "love".  Maybe this is the case, maybe it isn't.

I think I need to find it without the word defining it, then redefine the word based on that which I find.  Once the dust clears from the current hardships, I think I need to set the word aside for now, forget what I think I know, and find that thing I need that contains the emotional and intellectual connection, that is safe and comforting, that include intimate touch without sexual touch.  And maybe sexual touch if it feel right, maybe.

And then, when I find that thing I desire and long for, and can then redefine love based on what I find.