Sunday, March 22, 2009

Unity And Strength In Diversity

Spending quality time with the people you love - and who love you - is more than just goofing off or finding ways to spend time not actually doing anything useful. Many activists feel that taking such time is risky and wasteful and could be put to better use promoting the cause of human rights. After all, we are greatly outnumbered - and our enemies have no shortage of volunteers eager to drive another nail into the coffin of our human rights while our backs may be turned.

However, it does serve a very important purpose. Aside from reducing or countering the stress we as activists are met with in the world, it helps to remind us what it is we are fighting for - and why we are fighting in the first place.

We are out there fighting for the freedom and equality of GLBT folk, true enough, but after a while, facing the unbelievable hate out there, which can be really confusing, even the strongest of us can become cynical, worn down and worn out. I say it is confusing because many folk claiming to be loving Christians who brag they supposedly follow a loving god will diresct an enormous amount of un-christian hate at us from the religious corner. This can be rather demoralizing, because a great many GLBT people, as well as activists - find their strength in the very same religion - and god - whom these vicious folk have blatantly hijacked in their crusade against diversity and free will. This in effect causes them to lose their own faith and to doubt themselves.

I know several people who have been invaluable allies in the fight against bigotry, heterosexism and homophobia who have worked so very hard to make a difference, and who have succumbed to the stresses and strains of keeping up the fight. Some feel they dare not take a break in case something else will happen when their backs are turned - and the fear that there is nobody else to take their place. After all, activism is a calling. It is a stressful, self-appointed voluntary task, poorly paid (if at all) and the only reward is when the enemies of diversity and equality curse and revile you - because then you know you are onto a good thing and are doing something right.

I find seldom a week passes without at least one amusing email or snotty wall-post from some disgruntled bigot with a human rights chip on his or her shoulder popping into my mail box. (It has been some time however since my last death threat, so perhaps I am losing my edge.) I sometimes file the more amusing ones for later, just to have a good laugh.

So therefore it is imperative that more people get off their complacent asses and join the fight for equality. Regardless of who wins this election in SA, GLBT are going to still find themselves in a battle - either to hang on to the civil rights we do have - or to get them back after the bigots take them away.

The strain of keeping track of current events, writing press releases and letters, managing a newsletter and co-ordinating the affairs of a GLBT advocacy group - while balancing the above with a day job - can only be described as taxing.

Time spent with loved ones serves to refresh and renew our determination to fight to keep the rights we already have, to present a hard fight for those who would take them away - and to continue to really get up the noses of those who would play god with the lives of others. Activists are the voices which speak out for the rest of us, they are the tip of the sword. And a broken sword isn't much good, is it?

Today I spent another day on the beach with my wonderful girlfriend, walking hand in hand in the waves, feeling the stress sink away into the sand beneath our feet and not even noticing if anybody stared or not. This is the "new" SA after all, and there are mixed couples of all description in public these days, of all races, religions and genders. Nobody says "Haai sies, kyk die lessies!" in public anymore and to average ordinary folk, it's just old news and nothing to write home about. And that is one of the things that is still truly wonderful about this otherwise volatile country we live in. Hopefulness, and strength and unity in diversity.

If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.


1 comment:

  1. "Joining You"

    dear dar(lin') your mom (my friend) left a message on my machine she was frantic
    saying you were talking crazy that you wanted to do away with yourself
    I guess she thought I’d be a perfect resort because we've had
    this inexplicable connection since our youth and yes they're in shock
    they are panicked you and your chronic them and their drama
    you this embarrassment us in the middle of this delusion

    if we were our bodies
    if we were our futures
    if we were our defences
    I’d be joining you

    if we were our culture
    if we were our leaders
    if we were our denials
    I’d be joining you

    I remember vividly a day years ago we were camping you knew more than you thought you should know
    you said "I don't want ever to be brainwashed" and you were mindboggling you were intense
    you were uncomfortable in your own skin you were thirsty but mostly you were beautiful

    if we were our nametags
    if we were our rejections
    if we were our outcomes
    I’d be joining you

    if we were our indignities
    if we were our successes
    if we were our emotions
    I’d be joining you

    you and I we're like 4 year olds we want to know why and how come about everything
    we want to reveal ourselves at will and speak our minds and never talk small and be intuitive
    and question mightily and find god my tortured beacon
    we need to find like-minded companions

    if we were their condemnations
    if we were their projections
    if we were our paranoia’s
    I’d be joining you

    if we were our incomes
    if we were our obsession
    if we were our afflictions
    I’d be joining you

    We need reflection we need a really good memory feel free to call me a little more often

    - Alanis Morissette – Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie - 1998