The Problem with Activists

DSC01563By Wade Lee Hudson

Like the rest of our society, most activist organizations get wrapped up in facts and figures and policy prescriptions, and fail to affirm underlying moral values. They rely on tapping anger and fear, and neglect deeper feelings of love and faith. They aim to score victories by defeating opponents, rather than seeking win-win solutions. They focus on the outer world and ignore the inner world. They operate too much in the head, not enough in the heart. They become excessively task-oriented, and forget to evaluate their process and how their members relate to each other. They overlook the need to empower people. They primarily rely on mobilizing people to take some specific action, rather than collective problem solving. They often have hidden agendas. They spend too much time calculating what is “political,” rather than speaking honestly. They may “listen” to people when they first recruit them, but then stop really listening. They lecture, often with a shrill tone, and try to “educate,” rather than engaging in authentic dialog. They aim to persuade, and stop learning. They are too arrogant and judgmental, rather than humble and understanding. They function like an impersonal machine that uses people until they use them up. They manipulate people by stroking their egos. They are afflicted with self-centered power struggles. They tend to believe that some one person must always be in charge, that each person must either dominate or submit, rather than collaborate as equals. They have too many boring meetings. They don’t sing and dance enough. They don’t enjoy enough cultural experiences together. They don’t just hang out and socialize informally enough. They are too serious. They don’t have enough fun. They forget to love the universe and the life force that energizes and structures it.

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