The world is full of activists, people crusading for one cause or another: political, religious, corporate, technological, personal.
I’m a crusader now, fighting nonviolently for what I believe in. But it’s a strange thing, being a crusader: devoting your time to a cause, actively trying to change other people’s minds too.
I’ve been a crusader once before, several years ago, when I opposed one of the most corrupt, manipulative, and amoral groups on the planet: the so-called “Church” of Scientology. In many ways, that was good practice for what I’m doing now. I learned what it’s like to protest, how to do it effectively, how to operate in the dynamics of a resistance group.
In other ways, of course, my current crusade is different. Whereas Scientology is a small, malignant tumor that ruins a tiny subset of society, the NSA’s overreach has global implications and affects almost everyone alive today. If Snowden’s reports are correct, Britain’s GCHQ is even less scrupulous in its surveillance, and many other world governments – including Australia and Germany – are complicit as well.
In any case, being a crusader gives you a different perspective, pulls you a little outside of ordinary life. You want to grab every person you meet, shake them, scream: “How can you just walk around when THIS is going on?!”
But you don’t, of course.
For one thing, the world is full of crises. A hundred THISes are always going on. If every other crusader stopped me to yell about their own cause, I’d never make it to work in the morning. It would be hypocritical of me to pretend I’m the only one concerned about an important issue. I get that.
What’s more, I don’t want to be That Guy. You know: the friend who’s always bringing up his pet topic. The one that people start avoiding because they’re sick of hearing about it.
So I try to tone it down.
And yet, the NSA really is shredding the Bill of Rights. And yet, the world really is inching its way, slowly, slowly, toward 1984. And yet, we really do have to stop it.
So the crusade goes on. The double life goes on: polite smiles on the outside, fire on the inside, looking for a chance to spread.
Tell me: have you ever been a crusader?