Getting Spit On, Getting Licked
My partner was spat on last night by some guy in a van. My reaction? “My God, was it a loogie?” He said, “Yeah, he hocked a loogie at me. He actually hit my face, too. It was impressive.” The reason this man was so angry: my partner was biking with a group of 50 bikers and they were using a good portion of the street. As if anyone can drive fast in this city anyway without hitting lights and stop signs and car traffic and accidents and buses and cabs and pedestrians jay-walking and pigeons. It was unnecessary to be so furious. But that right there is the reason for biking in a large group. They call it Critical Mass. The idea is to make it known that bikers deserve a place in the city, amidst traffic, even when there are angry spitters in vans.
This caused me to start thinking about activism. I have known a lot of activists. They have been escorts at abortion clinics, helping women through the crowds of pro-life protesters, and staying by the woman’s side as the abortion is performed. They have organized and worked in inner-city gardens. They have worked for groups that deliver meals to people with HIV/AIDS. They have done non-profit work of all kinds. They have chosen to live in shared houses, have biked to work and school, grown their own food (and pot), and more.
Then there are the other kinds of activists. Quieter ones. We don’t get spit on often, or arrested, or any of that. Activists I know now are of a different kind… They help friends whenever they can, despite their own needs. They raise children with kindness. They don’t turn on the heat until long after the rest of us have caved at the first sign of winter. They homeschool. They breastfeed long past infancy. They keep chickens illegally. They play silly wild games at playgrounds while other mothers look on with blatant disapproval. They believe things is what I’m trying to say: the beauty of public art, that there is hope for city kids, and in the generosity of time, money, food, and love.
I have long regretted not being an ACTIVIST. I went to a private but semi-community-service minded high school in the city and felt the power of knowing that we can all make a difference with even one afternoon of work and care. But I could never throw myself into that. I am a homebody. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “World Peace Begins At Home”? That’s where I am. I occasionally get licked, but never hit with loogies. I hope to one day obtain this book: Radical Homemakers.
It looks like an inspiring read. But… sometimes that kind of book makes me long (far too much) for a homestead (and to become Amish but let’s not go there right now). I’m going for contentment and gratitude these days. Good thing I don’t have the money to buy it! Hey, aren’t all activists poor?
Even without reading a book about it, and without having a farm, I now know I am an activist. Not because I use rags instead of paper towels and attempt to grow a vegetable garden. Not because I nursed my babies and have a family bed. Not because we unschool and cry loud and laugh a lot. But because I care about something (a lot of things, actually) and lean with my whole life towards it. I probably don’t look like I’m doing much to the Activists I read about who reach out, who connect, and make Big Changes. But maybe I’m helping a couple of new humans grow up believing in love, compost, hugs, stories, forgiveness, nature, sunshine, biking, dreaming, breastfeeding, and in the deep power of homefulness. I hope so.
What makes you an activist? (Which means just aiming your life and heart in what you believe to be a step in a good direction, for yourself, your family, community, and the world, even if you don’t do it perfectly because nobody does. Even No Impact Man went no impact for only a year. Every little and big effort matters.) There are so many, many ways. I never thought like this before, but passion and determination come in and endless variety of colors and styles and sizes. They are all worthy. I would LOVE to hear your ways.