I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ show “Prohibition” on PBS. It details how activism gets translated into policy and is a fascinating story.
In the 1880s, women fueled the temperance movement. They were concerned about the effect of strong drink on their husbands. These women organized and gathered in front of saloons, kneeling and praying for relief from the evils of alcohol. It had an effect.
But they had to give up their marches and kneel-ins. The laundry wasn’t getting done. The children weren’t being fed. Political activism takes time and effort, while women’s work couldn’t wait. They went home and left the marching to future generations.
As I have watched the Tea Party rallies and the Occupy Wall Street sit-ins, I find myself thinking that sustained activism for ANY cause requires soldiers on the front line who have nothing better to do. After all, it doesn’t matter what I think of any of these political causes. I have to work. I can’t get on a bus and travel around the country. I can’t even haul a sleeping bag down to the local park and hang out for days. I have stuff to do. And so do most of the people I know.
The Tea Party is full of retired people living on Social Security and pensions, and Occupy Wall Street is full of young people living off their parents. God love them for their passion! Exercising your free speech and marching to enact change are what America is all about. Both come from the same seeds of discontent that were planted with the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the subsequent bail-outs for everyone except Middle America.
I get it. I sympathize. I just don’t have the time. I have a dentist appointment in an hour. I desperately need to swing by the grocery store, and if I don’t make it to the drugstore by 9, my blood pressure will go through the roof! I’ll just have to leave the marching to someone else.