I’ve noticed a couple of things about youth activists recently:
1) They are always developing a new set of terms to define and encompass the various things they are fighting for and against. And of course, this is important because it a) allows activists to speak in equal and unifying forum b) opens up perspectives and gives way to new paradigms. However, it must also be noted that there are obviously downsides to having new vocabulary — it constantly threatens to estrange the public, especially the apathetic. Advertising 101 says you need to get people to care and feel connected to your cause. Creating dozens of new terms every week (and by association, dozens of new ideas) doesn’t help in inclusiveness. Worse are people who constantly flaunt their exclusive vocabulary on social media — it’s blatantly telling people, “I’m not talking to you”. Many youth activists are precisely that — youths. They’re still finding their way and identities, and they instinctively feel that such causes are helping them do so. And identity, or attempts to forge one, is reflected through language. Remember the kid in class who constantly uses really long words the moment he learns them that the other kids don’t understand? Yeah, many youth activists are that kid. But now, worse — because they’re constantly evolving their own set of vocabulary.
2) An in-your-face moral high ground. This isn’t a problem exclusive to youth activists. But it is a problem that is more blatantly obvious with youths. It’s easy to say, “you don’t have the right to speak in the matter because you’re not the oppressed party here”. But in saying this, you’re sending the message saying “you’re not qualified, but I am”. But are you, really? As much as people try to deny it, activism is about empowerment; not only empowering victims, the oppressed and less fortunate, but also empowering people who aren’t part of the fray to want to change and act. People don’t want to feel that their privileges or standing in society is being curtailed for your cause. Telling people to shut up doesn’t help. People are wired to protect themselves before others. It isn’t being fought against that activists should fear the most, it’s being ignored. And you’re just compelling people to ignore you because it’s convenient and safe. Activists must understand what the inertia of the status quo and the fundamental dynamics of change are before being able to launch an effective and tactical campaign. It’s not about ranting on Facebook and sharing dozens of articles that your target audience doesn’t read.
In a war of ideals, it is not the angry mob holding pitchforks that is the most dangerous. It is the player who lurks in broad daylight holding a mask of civility but acts wholeheartedly against the progression of rights. Activists are, by nature, passionate people. They are not tacticians or schemers. Few are adequately equipped to take on vehemence and plots.
The human experience is tragically limited. The five senses, even when empowered by technologies and equipment, are definitely incapable of fully experiencing physical reality. There will inevitably be an infinity of a universe out there that the human is unable to witness or even begin to understand. A simple example of such a shortcoming is the echolocation ability of bats — it is a sense in itself, much like our senses of taste, touch and so on. As much as we know that bats possess such a form of sensation, we cannot say that we understand what it feels like to be capable of echolocation; it is a form of experiencing reality that is exclusive to the species of bats. Of course, this is only a single example — one can only freeze in exaltation in the presence of the sheer possibilities of ways in which what we call reality may be experienced. And yet the human, in his infinite arrogance, has cozyed in the comfort that is his five senses. Some even proclaim to know some form of supreme, universal truth. Reality is simple, they say, it is the metaphysical truth they know that is complex. What bigger disservice can man do to his species? As if we have the fucking time or comfort for dalliance with the metaphysical.