Active passivists and passive activists (Blog post)
Most of this blog site is dedicated to poetry. One such reason is self-explanatory – it’s an enjoyment of mine, a subjective writing where the subject matter is often less subject to criticism in its expression: creative writing can perhaps get away with more because it is perceived and can metaphorically pass as more subliminal, or at least that’s how it feels when writing it. People tend to read it less as an active point-by-point critique of why what has been written is totally wrong and how the author should be crucified. Maybe it’s just me, but when I write a poem it takes less consideration of such factors, and feels less inhibiting to write than a post, whereby in the latter you are yourself, expressing your opinion (or even an opinion which is not yours but in its articulation becomes attributable to you personally anyway), with no camouflage of imagination, or a fictional character that you can hold responsible. It’s part the reason that I always feel the need to explain myself and put out there my inexperience, my unauthoritative position, my meagre knowledge and my vast ignorance before writing any such pieces. Creative writing less so, as it’s uninhibited, subjective nature holds more of a shield against ones own personal vulnerability and exposure.
Usually, when it comes to writing blog posts, I always have a conversation in my mind on whether it’s worth doing on a particular subject matter when there are so many, often more informed, more qualified out there. It is the active passivist (Though I don’t believe passivist is actually a word) against the passive activist in me.
The active passivist.
One part of me, and probably the bigger part, is reserved on approach, asking if I am writing for the sake of writing, like an individual who holds weight on observations or opinions that are in fact already out there, more relevant, and better expressed, critical of my own potential rebuttals. This inhibitor, often rightly, constantly questions intentions, motives, and importantly usefulness of the piece in mind, and usually wins to suppress. It seemingly transforms to an indifferent approach, kind of rationalised as an active passivity, an ‘I’ll absorb viewpoints and develop my own opinions without expressing it’, or an ‘engaging in debate will only cause more problems than the benefit of putting a thing out there.’ In an era of such technology where things can go viral within a matter of seconds, it’s too common to see things follow hype, with arguments, counter arguments, and so many different angles and narratives covered within a few days. So this part of me justifies non-reaction as sensible…if I’m not adding genuine substance, what is the point? It’s not indifference, but accepting that maybe my opinions are baseless, emotive, reactionary, unoriginal or perhaps frighteningly ignorant, maybe more a thing of ego for the idea of holding value to an opinion rather than actually holding an opinion of actual value, and so best left avoided for that time. In this constant barrage and bombardment of endless information and openness, this is the part that asks…If many people seem to only seek to acknowledge and endorse that reaffirm their own existing values and opinions anyway, am I acting more as a fuel rather than extinguisher?
Then there’s the schizophrenic counterpart…
The passive activist
This is the ranter, the go-getter, the opinionated sensitive emotional other half of the picture. The one that says that doing something, albeit little; expressing something, is to be more involved in being a part of solution than a part of the problem by doing nothing. It acknowledges that it is just that, only an opinion, holding no weight of its own accord but is a channelled outlet in the midst of hopelessness, that might provide something, anything, in usefulness. It argues that, you can keep waiting until the time is right, until the utopian opportunity (that never will) comes to present itself, and let it all go to waste when before you know it you’ve lost that energy, that ability, that opportunity to do a thing.
And here I am, and maybe others too, finding myself undeservedly blessed to be in a position of opportunity that others would dream of, constantly trying to figure out what approach to take and how to make sense of it all. Accepting my responsibility with guilty conscience and trying to rationalise best the path that causes most benefit and least possible damage.
Seeing it all too well, a topic comes up, its around everywhere, seeing uninformed opinions in the same cauldron of discussions alongside beneficial opinions that may change outlook, redefine prejudices, provoke useful, rational conversation and trying to figure out where mine may fit. How can you quantify and assess your usefulness? By how much you have to show for it academically and whether it is in your area? Is it fair if it’s by the number of people that agree with the opinion, by likes, by retweets, by supportive comments? Where do we draw our conclusions and how prone to bias are we just by our subjective critical assessment of how qualified a person is to discuss such a topic, and therefore whether they are to be taken seriously in any way?
And so far, I went for the copout. A blog post on blog posts. An opinion on opinions. My wondering on wonderings. Trying to carve out clearer lines between an egotistical perception of self worth and genuine intention for contribution and betterment, or the line between exercising patience and opportune usefulness with eroding to helplessness and nothingness. Clarity in an ocean of ambiguity, here I am philosophising with no credibility to do so, ironically participating in the same pit of confusion I’m trying to understand.
So there it is. I’d be interested to hear your opinions on my opinions of our opinions.
(NB: The author asks that any words that he’s made up, or things that don’t make sense or you find yourself disagreeing with are accepted as face value as being due to his intentional, creative articulation.)