mostly, my reluctance lies in that i don't think that confrontational direct action works anymore; people like PETA and the unibomber have ruined it. maybe it never really worked at all. i mean, granted, it gets people talking, but then what? in modern times, are there direct lines that can be drawn between action and positive social change? i'm not asking about suffrage or the civil rights movement, those were protests with solid, stated goals, and they took place at times when a large impact had to be made. carrie nation couldn't get her message out via facebook, so she had to smash some shit up with a hatchet, but is that tactic still valid?
does the everyday nature of it all dilute or strengthen the message?
what exactly has occupy ___ changed? are we better-educated about certain issues? maybe. are we working on changing our lifestyles - above and beyond switching to credit unions? do we feel we have a greater say in our (supposedly representational) governmental procedures? i just don't know, and i don't know how to go about finding solid answers. do we even know what this whole ruckus is all about? are we sticking with antiquated protestation methods because we can't think of a better way to go about it?
a lot of my feelings are tainted by my "activist" parents, i totally admit that. i saw them do bad things with the best of intentions, and i saw them do dumb things because they thought it'd make a point.
one example: in 3rd grade, we had a couple of high school students from norway visit our class. we were supposed to prepare a few questions for them, fluffy stuff about daily life and culture and all. the expectation was that after school, we'd head to the library or ask our parents to help us read up a little bit about norway and we'd base our questions on that. when i asked my mom for help, she told me all about seal hunting and told me to ask the visiting students (who were expecting questions like "is it colder there than here?") why their country still participated in the seal slaughter.
so i did.
and everyone was shocked and horrified.
and i didn't get that i had done anything wrong; i'd just asked the question my mom told me to ask. i was 9, i didn't know any better.
when i got home, i told her what had happened, and she laughed it off, "oh you weren't really supposed to have asked that..." really? because that's what we had talked about all night, to the exclusion of anything else that i could have asked, and even though i really wanted to know if everyone skied to work like i saw on that one monty python episode, i didn't even feel empowered to ask that.
so when i think of direct activism, i think of it with a deeply-ingrained sense of personal dread. i think of it as misguided. i think of it as idealism clashing against reality in a way that will do nothing to change either. i think o fit as reactive rather than proactive. i think of it as actions lacking finesse. i think of it as a form of intimidation. i think of it as a childish tantrum.
i don't have any solutions. but i do know that while protesters getting teargassed on the streets may change our conversations, it will probably not change the mind of the person who's caught in a traffic jam because of it.