I never thought of myself as an activist. The first time someone called me an activist, was an internationally well known activist in a message to me on Facebook. She told me to keep up the good work and always stand up for what I believe in. That the life of an activist wasn’t easy. But to keep doing what I do.
“Wow” was what came to mind. “Really? Me? An activist?” I was shocked and honored. I’m a writer who feels very passionately about what I write for. I’m not on the front lines, yet. Legally, I can’t afford to be out there-yet. I have always cared about the wrongs of the world, talking in extent to both my parents about it all the time. I sit home and write about what all the wonderfully courageous people who have crossed paths with me by caring about the same things I care about are doing to make the world a better place. I respect that they care enough about the drinking water of grandchildren they will never meet. Or that they care about the future generations of our little brown Native children and their rights, without even knowing how this world will be at the time. Whether it will be better or worse, but hoping in their hearts, what they do here and now will make it better. Or they care about all the lives lost to alcohol two miles away from the reservation. That they care about a piece of land so sacred and important to The Creation Story of our people that it is considered The Heart Of All That Is, that they would help spread the word via social media. And all the Indigenous people who live in colonized governments who are sending support to the First Nations of Canada by saying enough is enough Idle No More as a globalized, unified movement with a heartbeat so strong, you can hear it like a drum beat in your soul. Like the game Jumanji is buried nearby.
That is what I realized being an activist is. Caring about grandchildren you will never meet. Caring about lives already lost. Caring about your people here and now. Caring about the Earth, the sacred water, our rights to be human, our languages and ways of life passed down for generations, and our rights to take care of the land. There is no end to being an activist. There is no epiphany or ice breaking moment when one day you just say “Screw it, I’m done.” And walk out as if it is a low wage, no benefit job. You don’t get paid for being an activist except by seeing change and progress. You care enough, that’s why. You are paid by heart. There is only that moment of clarity when you realize, if you are not born into a family of activists, that you do care. That you do believe and that change is possible. By standing up for what you believe in.
It’s how to be a warrior in this day and age. Whether you a straight out militant activist, on the frontlines or fighting the fight and getting word across by social media, through twitter and facebook. Which is like a virtual march spreading like wildfire. I respect all activists out there who use their weapons wisely to get word across. Whether that weapon is a pen, human barricade, stand in, a song, twitter account, etc.
Being an activist means you lose friends, maybe family members…who can’t or won’t accept your new goals in life. Yet, they oddly care enough to not care and want you to not care again. You don’t understand how they can NOT care and they don’t understand how you can waste energy and time on issues that aren’t even issues to them. But you gain momentum with every soul you meet that don’t give a shit about their future generations, it makes you fight harder for change. Because you never give up on hoping they too will see the light. That they will see what we do here and now will affect the next seven generations, whether that be for better or worse.
See I can tell you How Not To Be An Activist by simply saying don’t care about what is happening around you, bitch about people who are out there on the front lines wanting change, look your grandchild in the eye and not worry about what kind of water they will drink someday. Care about the here and now and the cash in your pocket. Bitch again about the 1% while not standing with the 99% you belong to. Continue to bitch about how much Pe’Sla costs when not a penny came from your pocket. Don’t feel the global heartbeat of Idle No More. Continue to be offended by the word “Idle” when in fact the very act of Indians putting other Indians down has been the “IDLE” since being put on reservations.
There is no end to being an activist. There is always some wrong going on in the world by others looking to get rich off the health, land, livelihood of the poor. When one battle ends another begins. Several battles go on at once all around you as you worry about Kim Kardashian’s unborn baby.
See, really I can’t tell you how not to be an activist. Because I care. And I think you do too. However, I will not give up on that awakening of your soul, when I think someday you will realize, enough is enough.
I have hope, as all activists do. Hope is the fuel to their fire. I have hope someday every one of us will care.
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