I find it interesting that our history is filled with people who are heralded for their
remarks concerning the rights and responsibilities of citizens to speak out against their
government, its policies, or injustices that are left unchecked, but when you do it,
you're labeled as one of those dangerous activists or dissidents, those evil people who
erode the fabric of our society... of course, I'm being sarcastic.
I'm an activist and dissident and proud of it. I write to my representatives and
tell them when I think they're wrong, Sometimes, I thank them for their stands on issues.
Sometimes, I chew them out. It's not a privilege. It's a right and a responsibility.
When you vote, you are an activist.
Every politician in the history of the world is an activist or dissident, otherwise
they wouldn't be a politician. If they thought that everything was hunky-dory and
that their presence in national affairs would not make a positive difference, they'd just
stay home and play with the kids.
The label of activist or dissident is distinguished in a few ways, based the people in
the authoritative position to set the agenda, or baseline, for any given discussion. An
activist is generally considered anyone who organizes or participates in movements to
alter "the staus quo" - the way things are being done and the policies of an
The most interesting thing to realize about the words activist and dissident, is the
fact that in the dictionary, there is no positive or negative connotation attached to the
words. Moral judgement has been affixed through propaganda to silence the voice of those
who oppose or would provide evidence against the agenda of those in a position to control
the dissemination of information through ownership, overt or covert collusion and
Some of the world's most honored and revered people were activists and dissidents.
Nelson Mandela was jailed for terrorism. Martin Luther King was called a "plant"
by the communists to disrupt America. The list of dissident heroes, as well as
non-dissident heroes, goes on and on and on.
For me, I disagreed with the war in Iraq for certain reasons, but I could easily have
been at the protests against the war as well as the demonstrations supporting the troops
(not the war, the troops). And I believed it was great to see both sides speak out in
reasonably responsible ways.
Activism and dissidence are, to me, brilliant reminders that it really does "take
all kinds" in order to generate a collectve wisdom, develop legislaton that is not
subject to incidental or conflicted interpretation, and generations that reconcile and
pass along the best of what the past has to offer as a foundation for Democracy, and the
tools of empowerment and ingenuity with which to cause a future ever more closely
resembling the vision of Democracy. That is not caused by the introspection of a leader or
king, it is the natural product of candid interaction, and the best efforts of every kind
and every interest of people.
I've often thought that, as president, it would be my desire to have all those who
demonstrate and protest know that I heard and understood their positions.
Then I consider the possibility of a country where the citizens do not feel compelled
to go to such extremes. That is the goal, the contribution of activism and dissidence.