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Sunday in Paris, something extraordinary happened: one of the largest crowds ever to assemble in France came together to defy the murderous Islamists who tried last week to shut down free speech. As AFP reported:

The series of attacks which started with a massacre at the Charlie Hebdo weekly on Wednesday and ended with a deadly hostage drama in a Jewish supermarket on Friday, struck as the Gallic mood was already particularly gloomy.

It is the middle of winter, the economy is in the doldrums and the president is the most unpopular in modern history.

But the tragedy spurred the greatest outpouring of patriotic spirit seen in decades, with the French flag fluttering through the air and the Marseillaise anthem ringing out through days of marches.

One of the most unexpected scenes of the day, was when a crowd burst into spontaneous applause for passing gendarmes, shouting “Thank You” — in a country where riot police are notoriously unpopular.

As this unfolded yesterday, I asked a simple question on Twitter:

The response to this query was interesting. Some people attacked me as “dishonorable” for even asking the question. Some reflexively tried to defend the United States, even though I’d said nothing to attack it. Others dismissed what was happening in Paris, saying that it meant nothing.

These reactions are part of a very disheartening trend of conservatives and libertarians in the United State taking a position that’s cynical, negative and actually dismissive of political activism.

Call them the In-Activists.

I’ll ask the question again: can you imagine a crowd of Americans as large as the one in Paris taking to the streets for…well, for anything?

I can’t. There’s nothing particularly awesome about that, either.

Our political and social culture in the United States right now is simply too fractured and too passive. Yes, we’re ready to yell at each other online but even there, most people are talking to their own tribes and almost nobody wants to actually listen.

I’m not criticizing America but I am criticizing some Americans who may mean well but aren’t helping move the country in the right direction.

These In-Activists are the same people who are the first to complain about how the culture is disintegrating and we’re losing our country. When the idea of actually DOING something about those problems come up, they often dismiss activists and protestors as people with ’no jobs.’ This is usually aimed at neo-liberal protests, like the recent months of #BlackLiveMatter activism.

The conservatives and libertarians self-righteously complaining about activism seem to forget that’s a non-leftist tradition of activism as well, even though its pulse is very weak right now. Just a few years ago, it was protests and activism that brought the Tea Party movement attention. There were nationwide protests on April 15th and around July 4th; not just big events like Glenn Beck’s but grassroots events all over the country.

Activists have no jobs? Tell that to the people who organize the March For Life and draw huge crowds every year. As the group describes their purpose:

The March for Life in Washington, D.C., began as a small demonstration on January 22, 1974, the first anniversary of the now-infamous Supreme Court decisions in Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world.  The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand.

A postive message that gets brought out year after year. Yes, it matters.

Don’t like the March for Life? Have a problem with the Tea Party? Maybe these aren’t your causes? That’s fine but the least an In-Activist can do is not trash the people who are out there TRYING to make a difference.

If 1/100th of the people on social media complaining about the #BlackLivesMatter protests channeled that energy into actually doing somethingto show public support, maybe the world would change a little..

Take a look at what happened in New York at the funeral of slain NYPD officers Liu and Ramos. Police from all over actually showed up.They didn’t just tweet about it or sit at home and yell at television. They showed up en masse and that Sea of Blue turning its back on Mayor De Blasio was an image that was seen everywhere and became a symbol. Yes, it matters.

These In-Activists are often just making personal excuses for why they don’t get involved. It’s one thing to be too busy or apathetic but it’s a whole new level of destructive to put down the people who are trying to make a difference.

Will one protest, demonstration or other action fix all of the world’s problems? Of course not and that’s not a realistic goal. But doing nothing but complaining is worse.

If you’re one of these In-Activists, do everyone a favor before you comment with your negativity: bite your tongue and try to figure out how you can ENCOURAGE people to be more active about causes you care about it. I’m not saying to shut up, I’m suggesting your redirect your speech into something helpful.

Don’t give up the fight to make the world a better place. If you don’t like the country’s direction, overcome indifference and realize that you can make difference by taking action.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” — Elie Wiesel

2 Responses

  1. marlene

    It wasn’t an example of what we did on 9/11 or after the boston bombings. It’s worse now.


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