I don’t know what is activism. I don’t know the meaning of it. But I do want to play. As an adult, playing is to pursue an art for life. As I am pursuing and playing with my art, I also want other people to be able to freely pursue their arts. Seeing too many people not able to do that, I want to do whatever little I can do to help them, and on a larger level, if I am able, to change some fundamental things in society so a higher percentage of people can be engaged in the pursuit of their arts of life.
Playing, to me, is to play to my maximum physical and mental ability, and to interact with other minds. So naturally as I grow bigger, I will be more engaged with society and culture as a whole and make my impact on it.
So for me, the most tragic thing in our society is that many many people are not able to pursue a form of art and thus not able to realize themselves. One way I evaluate a society is to look at how much an individual can fully develop himself/herself in such a society. So one thing I feel about a society is how much potential on average its members are able to develop themselves. If we say in US, on average, people can develop 3% of total human potential, then in China, people can only develop 0.03% of total human potential.
How can people learn freely? How can individuals freely associate with peers and learn from peers? How can great minds get to know each other and meet each other? How can a society provide a wide range of activities for its members to freely engage in and thus learn various things? How does a society preserve its culture and history, and thus people can live in this vertical dimension of space and not cut of from the past and thus the future? How can people move freely and engage freely in culture communication, learning from different cultures, or making themselves?
What are those obstacles that block us from doing all these freely? In the view of Anarcho-Syndicalism, it is the authority. The authority that is in control of a very minority of people always tries to suppress the majority, and deny them their original rights to freely develop themselves. I just throw Anarcho-Syndicalism out here as a “label” that can kind of represent what I mean. I haven’t read very much into Anarcho-Syndicalism. If you want to read about it, I would recommend Noam Chomsky’s talks on Anarcho-Syndicalism. Basically, Anarcho-Syndicalism is about how a free creative human being can be in charge of his/her own activity/work, and freely engage in various organizations to further pursue his/her creativity and to do the activity/work together. I read about the Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka recently (http://www.sarvodaya.org/), which is heavily guided by Buddhism principles and Gandhi’s ideas. It is pretty much the same ideas as Anarcho-Syndicalism.
When I was watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s (https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/breakfast-at-tiffani/), that “wild thing” reminded me of many things, about what is really truth and how fake all the moral things are. “Life is colorful!” is the most beautiful sentence I have heard in my life. The girl who said it treated everyone like good friends, no matter who they are (many of them, in my judgment, are assholes, have no talents or are totally evil). Truth can never be taught. You have to feel it very strongly yourself. It takes a lot of efforts to find the truth.
Buddhism practice is to realize the true self. Pursuing a form of art is the way of practicing the true self. As we pursue arts in various domains, we will encounter many things we want to make changes in those domains. Then the issue is how we can connect with each other. Since my art of life is social software, if there is enough needs and some practical models, I am willing to contribute my time to build a website that explores such possibilities.
This, to me, is activism.
Note: I thought that adding the following might be helpful if we don’t want to treat this just as a light subject. You know where I am from. What happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989, in my view, had a very negative impact on the direction of my country. I was very young at that time. But later as I watched some videos and read of the student activists’ words at that time, my conclusion is that those students are very dependent and immature kids. They had no ideas of the consequence of their action. Democracy and human rights are very popular words in China in the 80s. In reality, people enjoyed a lot freedom of speech then. But those students were just following the fashion of Democracy and human rights, and they didn’t really understand what those words mean. The events in 1989 itself were very complicated. The reality is that what freedom we had enjoyed in the 80s was lost after 1989. Political reform, which had been on a good track, became the tattoo of the party. My generation of students thus grew up in a very different environment from students in the 80s.
My country had been through many many bloody revolutions in the recent history. Many many communist party members were actually very sincere in their fights. They sacrificed a lot including their own lives for the cause. But violence is just violence. It doesn’t change the soil.
That is why I was determined to make changes through peaceful and fundamental ways, and through improving my abilities.