Having spent the last six months intermittently self-flagellating since publicly declaring I was considering starting a blog, I have come to a very humbling realisation. Futile is this tossing and turning of questions such as, who is my audience, what tone shall I adopt, will anyone be interested in what I have to say… In fact, the longer I procrastinate on these self-indulgent yet well-intentioned ruminations, the more experiences I have failed to recount and share with the willing, the less I am inclined to commence. The term vicious circle becomes of paramount significance, and nobody likes a violent shape to weigh so heavily in their thoughts.
So, whilst burning my back bouncing around in the gargantuan Pacific waves, I concluded that today was the day; the day I would placate the seemingly insuperable litany of doubts that I have been so arduously gathering, and just write. So, audience, of whom I know not who you are, I have set a few places for you and hope that you will be patient whilst I find my voice and establish the purpose behind my ramblings.
Having opened this show with a rather verbose introduction, I will put floridity to bed and provide some straight-up context about me, An Activist Abroad. Last year, I completed a Masters in Human Rights. By the end of the course, whilst writing my thesis on Israel’s flagrant violation of Palestinians’ dignity and non-existent freedoms, I hated human rights. Well, not rights per se, but that they seemed to be empty promises, mere aspirations, yet another colonial endeavour and bestowed based on geopolitics and at the whims of mostly men. After all, the most modern manifestation of the human rights movement, born post Holocaust, had thus far failed to significantly assist the disempowered, disenfranchised and oppressed of the world.
I felt enraged, upset, and was bordering on tumbling into total disillusionment. Furthermore, I saw close friends and political activists around me burn-out and others get so wrapped up in their own egos that they had lost sight of the cause that they were fighting for. So, the best solution for me, to obviate exhaustion or even worse, narcissism, was to take some time out.
As an activist, I have felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction coupled with guilt because your job is never done, thus you can never truly relax. After all, poverty is still ubiquitous, women are still almost universally subjugated, the Palestinians are still an occupied people, climate change remains the whopping big elephant in the room that hardly anyone is prepared to discuss yet alone do anything about, bar recycling their bottles and cans, and the list goes on.
Ah, I see the tone has become somewhat depressing. Well, this was where I was at. In order to be an effective actor in the struggle for a more just world, some questions needed to be considered. Here’s a wee list of some of them:
1. What is the nature of humanity?
2. Are we inherently good, or are we predisposed to being generally a bit awful?
3. If it is fairly easy to become a violator of human rights, what are those conditions? What are the warning signs?
4. Is a world free of subjugation, oppression, poverty, racism, sexism, in fact all sorts of isms, possible?
5. If it isn’t, then is my role as an activist to mop up disasters, report on them and then vent my anger at some protest or another?
6. Can I continue in this struggle if it is a fight that cannot be won?
7. What does a just world look like? Is it a utopia?
8. Are human rights a part of the problem?
9. Is history based on a set of hierarchical relationships, which are inherently exploitative?
10. Are hierarchies necessarily a bad thing?
11. What role does violence play in achieving peaceful ends? When does armed struggle become the only option?
12. How can I persuade people to care about the issues I am interested in and take positive action?
13. Will I ever be able to answer these questions, or is this a life-long process?
14. What is my role in this fight? What is the best job for me? What can I cope with? What will I be best at?
So, that’s me. As you can see, I have set myself a fairly challenging task. I never tend to go for the easy option though, so at least I am not acting out of character.
However, due to being nearly killed in an accident and receiving a large compensation, I have the privilege of musing over these uncertainties away from the cold and often hard city of London.
I have been in the Americas now for over six months. I am currently sat at my desk in Posada el Arquitecto, overlooking two bays where waves that surfers dream of crash on the curvaceous shore. Mazunte, a tiny little village on the Pacific coast of Mexico, the birthplace of my first blog entry. What an accolade.