Sunday, April 19, 2015

social justice navel-gazing

I consider myself a social justice activist.

Or, well, at least part-time. Or, like, online.

Anyone who follows me on twitter or facebook should not be at all surprised by this because I post stuff about race, gender, gender identity, etc, ALL THE GODDAMN TIME.  I think most of my friends are probably sick of me, honestly. Yet I keep doing it. Why? I don't know. I blame my hopeless optimism.

I have a near-constant debate with myself over whether it's worth it. Am I even doing anything of value? A few times I've had people thank me for speaking out, that they would not have known about X or Y if I hadn't posted about it. That feels pretty damn good, like I may actually be making a small difference. I also think back to when I was utterly clueless about a lot of this stuff, or at least had way fewer clues than I do now, and the people who took the time to calmly and patiently explain to me how clueless I was and helped me realize a whole lot of stuff I had no idea about. They helped me immensely, and I want to "pay it forward" so to speak.

But so much of the time it feels futile. It feels like I'm just preaching to the choir, or shouting into the void. I get in debates with people and they soon make it abundantly clear that they have no interest whatsoever in hearing anything new (one of my biggest pet peeves-- people who claim to be data-driven, yet when presented with plentiful data and evidence insist that all of it is crap because I guess anything presented by a raving liberal such as myself is automatically discredited, no matter the original source. And then they refuse to provide any evidence to back up their claims. It's like hitting your head against a wall).

And yet I keep going. Why? Hopeless romantic. I refuse to give up on people. I expect people to be reasonable, and so if I can just find the right reasonable and logical argument they will see the light. So I keep trying, even when it's clear I am not being heard (and yet I still hope... maybe my arguments will steep in the back of their minds and change them over time. Or maybe someone else is reading the exchange and benefits from it). Or maybe I'm the one being unreasonable. I don't shy away from the bleeding-heart left-wing liberal label.

So I don't know. The online stuff feels silly and pointless, except it doesn't. I see injustice all around and people hurt by it every day, and I want to do something (gotta alleviate that white guilt) even as I feel powerless. I want to do something meaningful, beyond posting links online, something that actually does something, makes a real difference, but I also feel like I don't have the space for that in my life right now (as I keep having to beg my kids for just five minutes, please, to write this post while it is fresh and in my head, because if I wait till they're in bed tonight I know it won't happen). Or maybe I'm just making excuses for not doing the real, hard work.

So I don't know. I will probably keep doing what I'm doing. And I will keep questioning it. And maybe one day I will do something more. I guess for now I will keep shouting into the void and hope someone is listening. And try to raise my boys to see the world as it is, not just from their personal perspective; and to want to make it a better place not just for themselves but for those who are not at all like them.

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