Monday, May 14, 2007

Free Radicals

Yeah, not the kind that may or may not cause cancer. I am so not thinking about that!

I am thinking about that little voice in your head (mine at least) that from time to time tells you to challenge the status quo, to shake things up a bit, to raise your voice to make a point. You know the voice that tells you that something is so not right, that something is wrong and you need to be the one who fixes it.

Does everyone have this voice???

I sure have it in spades. I have silenced it from time to time, but now I am warning you all, I am unleashing it again. It has been mentioned, by those who would know, that I am not always inclined to follow rules, which I do not agree with. Yeah, well if I do not challenge authority who will?

In high school, I was not in trouble. I mean I was in the national honor society, made good grades, ect. I was not the girl smoking in the restroom or cutting class, but I was the one who was harping on personal freedom and the right for us as students to be able to exercise our freedom of speech. I also, as a senior, organized a weekly sit in-- in the common area as a protest of the 1st Gulf War. (Yeah, I did have to go to the Principal's office for that one.) Although, I did not get in trouble. I merely pointed out that lunch time was our time, free time allotted for us to eat and if we chose to sit in silence, in a circle on the floor and think about war, the evils of war, the importance of human life - that was our right under the Constitution and since we were not hurting anyone and were following the guidelines set out in the student handbook, he should applaud our efforts. It was totally Gandhi! (Yeah, let's also note, that the Principal was really -- and sadly I might mention-- not all that smart.) So I held the weekly protest. Did I accomplish anything - probably not. ( But I was sure pointing out the Vietnam similarities, mmm, sound familiar anyone???)

In college, I was fairly vocal and to the left. (I am still to the left, if that was not clear already.) I have walked and marched and volunteered. I was a peer educator. I passed out condoms, held discussions, made frat boys line up with cards indicating the correct process for putting on said condom. Carried the birth control tackle box around campus. Worked with some women's issues groups and HIV/AIDs programs. (Ok, I also went to the Democratic socialists meetings too, but not for long.....)

I have always been very vocal about my opinions. Seriously, if you do not really want to know what I think - why ask me?

I would like to say that all of this has mellowed with age, but in many ways it has not. I am still listening to that little voice in my head that says, unchecked authority is not a good thing. That shaking things up is always healthy. Freedom is a really important thing. However, freedom has to be nurtured, protected, embraced and it has a cost. The cost is compromise, discussion, careful thought and to always question. Is it enough, is it working? Freedom is not stagnant.

Being radical does not mean shaving your head and chanting. It can take on many forms. I mean if you look at me, you see just a normal girl, right? (Until I open my mouth maybe!) But practicing random acts of radicalness can be as easy as chewing gum, no? Be the one to ask, "Why?" Be the one to speak up when something is not sitting well in your gut. Alot of really terrible things in history have happened because people were complacent and did not ask why. Take the time to explain why you think a certain way, someone might hear you and run with it!

Embrace freedom and your inner radical. It feels good!

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