Activism: the Warrior, the Peasant and the Philosopher

Activism: the Warrior, the Peasant and the Philosopher




In September, I wrote about the theory and practice of activism and tried to think about them as united.  Now I see it as more complicated and more interesting.  There are multiple dimensions of activism, as activism is a complex role and is a combination of a warrior, peasant and philosopher.

I think most of us are familiar with the concept of a warrior as it applies to activism: outrage, fighting, and eventual victory.  Conqueror for a just cause. Whereas in the middle ages warriors would venture out of the confines of their kingdom to slay an incredible, ghastly beast, the evils that plague our civilization may be less mythical but equally dangerous. The warrior represents the 1st person  perspective, the perspective of facing personal injustice and rising to challenge the injustices’ legitimacy and overcoming it.  The injustice, although deeply wounding is, in a trickster way, also a calling to adventure and a path along which character is forged and the healing of the wound occurs. I believe that for many people who have this calling, it was less a decision to make than an acceptance of being chosen.

The peasant, although not always considered archetypal or legendary, is still one which I believe most people can identify.  It is a fine feeling to be able to relate to your fellow person merely as citizens, people or neighbours.  In a sense, the peasant represents the binding force holding together a people, for a peasant is the common person without any distinction or notability living a simple live on earth and who feels the effects of economic misfortunes of poor government policy.  In this sense, activism reaches the 2nd person perspective as we are not alone as activists, but are entwined with our common person in a struggle that we are both mutually imbricated in.

The philosopher, however, tends to see the world differently, perhaps in a way that does not make sense to the peasant’s down to earth lifestyle or to the warriors need for direct action.  From a 3rd person perspective, the philosopher sees the whole big picture which encompasses the peasants, the warrior, the civilization and the evil beasts ready to devour all the light in the world. The philosopher has the power of contemplation and self-reflection.  In this way, the philosopher, while not the one holding power, can provide wise council to future action, for the philosopher can mentally see beyond the limitation of the warriors physical eyes and terrain outside the bounds of the peasant’s daily living.  The Philosopher represents our farseeing mental abilities that can guide our conduct as we strive to defeat the beast.

Ideally, the warrior (1st person), the peasant (2nd person) and philosopher (3rd person) all combine into the activist, wisely combatting evil beasts as a collective people.

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