the quiet radical

Hello. In short: This is a blog about a quiet life and doing what you can to be the change you want to see in the world. Read on for the long intro.

It’s not easy to reject capitalism, because this is not a system that is designed to be rejected or left. We grow up consuming. We are called consumers, not citizens. We are no longer human, but human capital. The economy needs us to consume. To consume we need a high overhead, even debt. To pay bills on that debt and on all the storage for all the things we consume that we usually call our home, we need a stable income from a stable service/ retail/ office job. Our time has a price per hour. We don’t bother to calculate true cost, of our time, of our consumption habits, in dollars, hours, or resources.

It’s also not easy to have a dialogue. There is no middle, they say, you’re either this or that. We need a revolution, or we need the current system for survival. You either eat vegan, or you eat meat six times a day. Middle ground is not the answer. Our way or the highway. Conservative or liberal. Judeochristian or heathen. Light or dark. Cats or dogs.

I can assure you, the world is quite grey.

And revolutionaries become the new oppressors the morning after the revolution. Let that sink in, and carry that thought with you.

Some years ago there was a thread on Twitter with a question, “What radicalised you?” Some people had outstanding pivotal moments that were truly painful to read, but most of us have had it gradual. So have I. Whilst there were some moments that were brighter than others, it’s the everyday grit that finally gets to you. It’s the 50% inflation in one year. It’s the ads for fast food, followed by ads for heartburn chews. It’s the juxtaposition of a news article about a woman who’s been living in an abandoned bus for two years because the construction company fucked her (and many others) over and a luxury fashion show on television. It’s the marketing aimed at children. It’s the understanding that my grandmother’s pension wasn’t even enough to bury her very modestly, let alone give her dignified living conditions. It’s a coworker’s commentary on the nation I belong to and the language I speak as a native. It’s the animal welfare laws, or lack of them. It’s a story of a woman who was saving for a new kettle from her meagre salary, only to have that kettle burnt and destroyed by her alcoholic husband who fell asleep, and then beat her up because she dared to speak of it, yet her inability to leave that husband because of no personal funds or place to live, because of the bias of religious elders, and zero support from community or family. It’s the stories of bullying by fellow students, and teachers not only doing nothing to prevent it, but actively participating in it.

I suppose by looking at me and my behaviours, one would not think or call me a radical. I keep to myself. I dress plainly, most of it from fast fashion chains. I hardly ever voice my opinion on current events. I don’t discuss my belief system or agenda. Maybe I don’t even have one. My diet is quite conventional. So are my shopping habits, and my office job, and my past times. I am quiet. I keep cats. I enjoy a good book, and a good show, and a walk in the park, and a merging game, and also just sleeping for long periods of time, whenever I can beat my insomnia. Sometimes I enjoy drinks out. And sushi. Pizza is probably medicine. Coffee can go directly in my veins. I love makeup. Have too much of it. I drive an older model luxury car. I have debt, a lot of it, all of it ‘bad’. I prefer soft tissue toilet paper, and complain about the rising prices. I travel by plane. I don’t keep a garden, and I don’t even have potted herbs on my window sills. I have ‘some’ college education, never got my degree. Sometimes I read the Bible, sometimes I observe the Wheel of the Year, sometimes I quote Stoics and Buddhists. Your typical middle class 30-something single woman.

Yet my beliefs are indeed quite radical.

And for some, what I do is radical enough. So radical that it is mind-boggling and a point of ridicule. I collect bottles for recycling with zero financial incentive. I darn socks (not something I bring up in any discussion, because for some reason this is something that drives the most people nuts). I don’t throw out left-overs. I reuse egg cartons and plastic bags and jars. I shop second-hand. I tip well. I reuse foil from chocolate bars to bake small things, and I write on two sides of note paper, which I then diligently try to recycle. I repurpose old clothes, I limit disposables. I keep in mind that all of these actions will easily be offset by the building of yet another coal plant to power yet another textile plant to be shipped to yet another sweat shop for yet another fast fashion store.

I also keep in mind that I have a soul, and that many of us have souls, and that my small actions are the only way that allow me to cling to my humanity and remain a person and a citizen, not merely a unit of human capital or a consumer.

And lately I’ve been – quietly, mind you – acting on my radicalism more and more. Being that corroded gear in the system that’s doing the most to grind us all down.

This blog is a story of that, in one form or another. Sometimes – often – I stumble, and overconsume, or follow the crowd, or still remain quiet when I shouldn’t have been. Other times – more often – I reduce-reuse-recycle, vote with my money, help animals in need, firmly state my beliefs, and stick to my principles.

And while I try to be useful and write a list of advice or give pointers on good actions, most of the time this is a journal.