Have you ever noticed the paradox of an activist whose heart palpitates for the starving children of Africa to whom they have never met, all the while grinding his or her heel into the faces of the people that are around them to whom they know? They shout louder than all the other activists. They carry more signs, write more letters to newspapers, shoot out more e-mails, and make more phone calls to their elected representatives, and call into more talk radio shows every chance they get. But they do not know how to love their neighbor as themselves and it really shows. They lack the milk of human kindness. In a word, this kind of activist is spiritually dead.
The trouble with this form of activism is that at root it is an abstractification in seeking to solve problems. Hence they become part of the problem, and not the solution. Therefore, they ignore the specificity of the problem that is right in front of their face. If, let us say, that they can try and save the world and ignore their corner of the world, then its stands to reason that in their shortsightedness they will never save the world. In fact they will not even change a damn thing, but rather muddy up the waters. Instead of admitting to this shortsightedness, they go into denial by projecting an overreaching program that they back up with some kind of ersatz utopianistic smokescreen.
What is problematic about this is two fold. The first is its ineffectiveness. The second is its hypocrisy as the lovelessness of the activist poisons the atmosphere of other activists around him or her. What follows is intractable doctrine, rigid ideology, deadly head games, leaving the prospect of effective long term potential civility to getting stuck in the mire of a paralyzing epilepsy.
Supposing one was to confront this kind of activist and say, “As a fellow activist working toward the same goal on this project, you might want to consider treating those around you with some dignity”. The activist who can’t (or won’t) love caustically retorts, “That is not needed. What matters is the goal at hand”. Is this not a twisted form of pragmatism? To which the challenger replies, “Do you really think that you can change this world without first changing your heart?” The activist who just won’t love looks at the other activist who made that statement with a stark blank stare of incredulity as if one has nothing to do with the other. But the fact of the matter is that to be truly effective in the long run, one has everything to do with the other. Every movement of the wheel, every roll of the dice, and every turn of the screw depends on love. For without love we are nothing.