This is something I consider a lot. The more I become involved in various causes, the more it makes me think, and I don’t know if I’ll ever really work it out.

It’s all a question about how best to represent the causes I support and fight for. Observing ‘radical’ activists for other issues, I often feel put off. In some cases, where the activists are using aggressive means to communicate the message, I feel alienated from the very thing that are trying to achieve.

My personality is such that I appreciate gentle, considered communication. I respond best when treated as an intelligent, independant individual. I learn best from well researched, well executed debate that engages my intellect. Or in the cases of other’s activism, that which is creative, involving, witty and with the right level of emotion and message.

I believe it all comes down to emotion. Too much, and I feel overwhelmed. When I started up my birth trauma website, reading story after story of heart-wrenchingly terrible experiences women had been through, I felt so overwhelmed that I verged on a depression and wondered whether I could ever help affect any positive change in the maternity system. But the balance of emotion- of anger, of injustice, and of my own regrets- was just enough that it sparked an incredible fighting spirit within me.

It’s interesting that I use the word ‘fighting’ there. On some level, I think I see radicalism as inherently aggressive. The word evokes connections with having an idea pushed on me, of being disrepected and unable to make my own choices about issues.

I think this is inaccurate though, and it all relies on how the message is relayed. I could bring attention to the issue of birth trauma by throwing a rock with a message such as “Hospital birth destroys women” through the front windows of the hospital. Or I could organise a get together for local pregnant women to discuss the full range of birth options, maybe have some relaxing activities to honour the pregnant women, and give them a chance to network with those about to go through this significant event, and learn more about the choices I have.

What would be more effective? In terms of getting the message out there and getting media attention, probably the rock through the window. But would it really get the message across? Would I make those who have not had the reason to mistrust  in the current maternity system defensive and less open to the message (and therefore, not look into all options)?

The meeting may not get the message across to as many people, but those who do attend, would be much more prepared to take in the full information available and make more informed decisions. This kind of intimacy allows for far more connection and dialogue, and ultimately better outcomes for the individual.

I’m starting to firmly believe that we can only change things one person at a time. And we cannot afford to alienate large groups of people.

So thinking through this now, it is apparent to me that radicalism does not have to mean aggressiveness. It’s all in how the message is portrayed. No, radicalism is passion, is commitment to the cause, is a willingness to engage individuals in more discerned thought, and relaying the message in the most appropriate, effective way possible.

And if that’s the case, I’m proud to call myself radical.

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