I may not be an activist…


I’ve noticed an alarming increase in the number of emails I have received lately assuming because of my connection and association to wellness and health websites, I must also be a defender of causes, which vary day-to-day. Somehow if I care about my health, I must also be passionate about the fight against big pharmaceutical companies, the fight against big food companies who are tainting our food supply, and the fight against the 2% wealthiest people in the country. I find it interesting. These days, in the era of Facebook, social media sites, and electronic subscription lists, profiling consumers is par for the course. Facebook and Amazon make recommendations daily based on my “Likes” and purchases. But profiling is not a new phenomenon, not unique to the electronic age.

In the 1980’s, when my daughter and I began attending a women’s prayer service, I was pegged a feminist, someone who supports and advocates equal rights of women. I enjoyed participating in the service, but I have never been an activist, and I came to resent the assumption I sanctioned every protest against the male establishment. I always shied away from demonstrations and conflict, probably because I never liked crowds, and if I had to guess, I have a genetic predisposition to avoiding risk.

I do have strong feelings and opinions about things, only I am more comfortable writing on a page than a placard, more likely to express concern than shout outrage, more likely to work behind the scenes to effect change than to protest against injustice, more likely to walk away shaking my head than argue. I find it curious when profilers assume they know what issues are likely to incite my sympathy, and I am amused when they are wrong in their assumptions. Like most people, I am complex and multi-faceted, and sometimes I feel like my life is characterized by contradiction. Here are a few examples:

  • I like animals, but I am not a vegetarian, and a long time ago, I had a fur coat, because a long time ago, fur coats were the thing to have. (My mother had two.) I gave it away when my daughter discovered it was made of real animal pelts.
  • When I eat meat, which is not often, I eat only grass-fed, antibiotic-free meat, because I believe it is healthier. I know it is more humane for the animals who are raised under these conditions, but I also know it would be more humane if we didn’t eat animals at all.
  • I shy away from medication, because I think medication is a way of managing symptoms without addressing the root cause of symptoms, but I also know medication saves lives.
  • I respect doctors for their years of training and their eagerness to help patients, but I think they are quick to discount alternatives in healing.
  • I have spent years helping shape educational institutions, yet I think homeschooling has merits if a parent has the time and bandwidth to pull it off.
  • I have coached parents as an “expert” on children, but I believe parents are the best experts on their own children.
  • I spent years fighting symptoms before understanding they were messages from my body to change how I lived my life, and I spent years trying to map out a perfect diet until I discovered my body’s wisdom was my best guide.

What about you? Does this resonate? Do people make assumptions about you? Have you ever made assumptions about others and been surprised to find out you were wrong?


2 thoughts on “I may not be an activist…

  1. Lynn

    Jayne, I couldn’t agree more with this. Yesterday a friend invited me to a potluck for International Women’s Day. I considered it and decided not to go because men were excluded. My husband, who is a scientist, has mentored and supported women in science for his entire career and I just feel that the energy of the old feminist paradigm could use an upgrade. When I talk to young women, I find that their needs and concerns as women in the 21st century are completely different from my own at their age – and it’s time to start listening and stop complaining about how ungrateful they are to us for “paving the way” (a sentiment I hear from some of my friends!). Thanks so much for this thoughtful post.

    1. Jayne Post author

      Lynn, I think this phenomenon is symbolic of people’s efforts to create like-minded groups, often forgetting how complex we humans are. I agree it is time to start listening to understand each other instead of listening to identify similarities with which we can identify or differences which provoke us. Thanks for sharing your insight!

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