Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Activism

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Protesting against slavery in Madrid (1873)

Activism
, in a general sense, can be described as intentional action to bring about social or political change. This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument.

As defined in Wikipedia.

Activism. Good word that. Went out with a friend last night. Our conversation was everywhere on the proverbial map. Amidst the buzz of the hawker centre, we were enveloped in a cocoon of our own thoughts, our own ideas.

My "date" was an "activist." Oh, he's not a card carrying disestablishment type. But he had his own opinions and he sets about doing something about it. He tells people about what he believes and attempts to persuade them to his way of thinking. And in such a charming way that I for one, wanted to believe.

He made his points with the crystal clarity of the true believer accompanied by a glint in his eye and the serenity that comes with absoluteness. When he spoke it was with a fervency that belied his age. Or maybe it was his age that lent to his sense of fervency. Who knows?

In any case, he believes he subscribes to an absolute truth and wishes for the world to see it as he does. And I can't say it won't be a better world. To say I was struck with him would be an understatement.

In my cynically wise dotage, I averred. I agreed with him, his stance. However, stopped short of actually persuading people to that truth. Since it was about matters of spirituality and organised religion (I subscribe to one and have a sandpapery relationship with the other) I insisted that my truth was my own. How could I take the responsibility that the truth that was my own was also appropriate for everyone? I could certainly tell others about it and recount the many blessings to me personally, to Allan and to my family,through that belief, and I have no problems sharing of my experiences if the moment seemed appropriate. Furthermore, if someone wanted me to be their guide to come to my spiritual truth I would be happy to act in that capacity.

But I would certainly hesitate to ask everyone I meet to apply my formula. After all, the solution must be applicable to the situation.

In short, my "activist-date" made me think. Like another friend of ours who I recently shared this blog with.

After visiting her blog and then going on a linking spree from her blog, it's heartening to know that there are people who will speak their minds in my "Kampung."

Many of these people speak out with the knowledge that there have been cases of arbitrary detention without trial. Our school system is still very much of the "spoon feeding" variety. And statements by leaders who should know better are not always conducive to encouraging responsible, well thought out debates.

For example, a minister recently labeled ALL bloggers "liars." Instead of taking the more substantive and educational route of debating arguments methodically, smear tactics are used.

Our society has yet to learn to deal with disagreements. Generally, we do not debate with any clarity. Facts and figures give way to rumours, innuendos and personal attacks or just...silence!
Think and think, then talk

As I progress into my (omigod) 5th decade, it is with an increasing realisation that disagreements CAN be handled in a civil manner, and that imagination can always lead to a manner of communicating that is acceptable and will persuade others to your way of thinking without confrontation. Rather than the unpalatable alternative of grin-and-bear-it, I say, complain in a way that your voice could be heard, speak your mind to the right people BUT be prepared to stick by it, live by it's consequences, and do not suffer in silence. Personal responsibility demands at least that. But like chinese Kung Fu, know when to take a step in retreat so that you will be able to further the cause another day.

However, it truly is heartening to see people like my date last night and my friend who speaks up, take a stand for something they believe in.

It inspires and encourages me to do the same.

6 Comments

Our politicians? hard to say :) After all most are voted in merely for the parties they stand for, not for any true ideals or political stand that they actually have for themselves.

We, as a society, haven't had a lot of practice or encouragement in constructive opinions, constructive criticism, or intellectual exercise at all.

It'll be a long road before it becomes a commonly seen or socially accepted practice.

It's a pity "don't-rock-the-boat" went further than "sit-down-and-shut-up-for-now" into "keep-your-head-down-don't-even-think".

savante; I agree. The feudalistic nature of our culture is not an incentive to develop your own ideals.

sneexe; pretty much what I said above. With spoon feeding in schools and the discouragement of actually speaking up, it will be a long time before we get where we need to. However, it shouldn't stop us from doing what we should.

hey,

enjoy reading you guys.
and love those cakes too.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thanks JoeRy :-) Just checked your blog out. Thanks for the link. :-)

Nigel

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