When Principles Clash with Activism

I’m pretty sure anyone who knows me or has read these blog posts knows about 40 years ago I was led to live without owning a personal automobile. A farm boy, I was shocked by the smog that enshrouded Indianapolis when I moved there after a year at Earlham College. This was in 1971, before catalytic converters started to come into use in 1975.

I didn’t know at the time how the consequences of that decision would touch almost every part of my life, as I’ve detailed in the past. Most of those situations improved my life in some way, i.e. being healthier because of walking and running for transportation and becoming a much better photographer because of all my walking with my camera to name a few.

The inconveniences, like walking in the rain or snow, or having to plan what to get at the grocery store that won’t be too heavy or bulky, running to all parts of town for my godson’s baseball games, etc. soon became a regular part of my life.

The times living without a car is frustrating is when there are social justice meetings or rallies that I can’t attend because there isn’t a bus that goes there or it is too far to ride a bicycle. It is tempting to think I should make an exception, like the end justifies the means. But I usually don’t make an exception. Since moving to Iowa two years ago I have had to use my parent’s car to get to Bear Creek Meeting. I’m still hoping to find a way around that. I’ve tried to increase my bicycling range but Bear Creek is 40 miles from Indianola. Eventually I plan to move close enough to be able to bicycle to meeting.

But I do not think the ends justify the means. The means must remain as close to your principles as possible. People aren’t going to take what you say about a given subject seriously if you aren’t setting a good example yourself. The example, or lack thereof that I often think about is when people who say they care about Mother Earth fly from meeting to meeting to talk about the environment.

One solution is to connect with local activists. Today there were nationwide rallies to protest the immigrant concentration camps. Many were held at the district Congressional offices, which would have been in Des Moines for me, so I didn’t make it there.

But Indivisible Warren County did organize a rally here in Indianola today about the migrant camps, close enough for me to walk to. There are advantages to bringing these messages to local communities.

Following are photos from today’s rally. I asked for permission to include the photos of the children, which I find to be especially compelling considering we are talking about the conditions of the children in the concentration camps.

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