I attended a session of the Special Court for War Crimes yesterday and definitely want to tell you all about it. However, some events and conversations took place yesterday that raised many questions in my head about the lifestyles of activists. I won’t go into detail about what stirred these questions, but I will tell you that I have a lot more questions than answers for this post.
An activist generally has a passion for something and is dedicated to bringing about change, whether that change is about a specific issue or an issue that engages society as a whole. But unlike many other careers in which you can have a distinct work etiquette and distinct out-of-work lifestyle, the lines are a lot more blurred when you work as an activist. In other words, at what point does an activists’ personal lifestyle become hypocritical and contradictory towards his or her work.
For example, it may be obvious that an advocate working for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who conducts demonstrations against animal cruelty probably should not be wearing leather boots to work. But what about the receptionist at the PETA office? Is it hypocritical of her to work at PETA and be wearing leather boots over the weekend? Or to take a better example, what about an activist that is trying to lower the consumption of fast food, and thus obesity, but occasionally indulges in a meal at McDonalds’s? Or what about an institute dedicated to democracy that does not have a democratic structure with in its own organization? If you think about it, it’s pretty difficult to have democratic systems at the organizations we work at. We have been taught over and over again that we need leaders in order to get things done. And generally, organization leaders are not elected based on an employee vote.
There’s also the situation in which an activist believes in changing the world on many facets, but only changes his or her lifestyle in a few of the issue areas. While activists generally want to do all good things for the world, can one person transform his or her life drastically enough to be contributing to all the causes he or she believes in? Is it necessary to be living in harmony with every single one of one’s beliefs? Are activists hypocritical when they make choices that are not directly in line with their advocacy and viewpoints, or is everyone allowed to have their vices? Is this all a matter of personal choice? At what point do we draw the line?
As I said, I don’t really have the answers to these questions, but invite you to comment and tell me your thoughts. I’ll fill you in on the Special Court soon!
Posted By Simran Sachdev
Posted Jun 11th, 2009