This week has been largely determined by the conversation I have had with Torn Halves about the Choose2Matter initiative.

It all started with me sharing a call for donations to support The Quest2Matter. Following the links above you can find a very interesting conversation on Facebook.

The socio-political debate that came out of the post has been very interesting, and I really enjoyed looking at the issue from another perspective. However, this is not what I really want to discuss here. Head over to the posts and we can continue the conversation about the concrete issue there.

In this posts I just wanted to have a quick look at my attitude to slacktivism and naivety. Two of the key aspects of the conversations.

Earlier this month UNICEF aimed at shocking the world out of slacktivim with their campaign “Likes don’t save lives“.

There’s been a lot of discussion about this and I am not at all convinced that I agree. Becoming aware of problems and possible solutions is one way of becoming more informed and being more informed leads you to decisions and actions about things you really care about. (Not to mention the legitimate criticism of how we practise charity these days.)

Our world is struggling with endless problems, millions of people are subjected to physical, financial, political oppression. There are thousands of charities and organisations that take on solving smaller or bigger chunks of the problem. Do these injustices suggest that there are major problems with the way things are? Absolutely. The more aware you are of these injustices the more likely it is that you would do something about them.
If you look at this infographic, slacktivism does not look all that bad.

My activism and activity is much influenced and informed by the things I “Like” and/or “Share”. I learn about problems, I find out about initiatives and I let others know that a) these are the things I care about, b) I think they might also care about them, c) here is an opportunity they might find useful.

Nothing is a 100 percent to my liking. Angela talk about us being “created” for example, which really bothers me but that’s not what her initiative is about.

Naivety is good

Naivety has been a life-long “fault” of mine. I suppose it is a reaction to having been brought up in a pessimistic and cynical environment, which has not proven to be an adequate solution to a happy life. (Whether a happy life is your pursuit, of course is a question, everyone has to answer for themselves.)

Naive idealism has helped me to see the best in people (and be thoroughly crushed time and again), it has helped me get up after horrible lessons I have had and dare go back to the classroom happy and optimistic.

Naivety leaves you open to surprises, new challenges and discoveries.

Naivety is not ignorance. Naivety is the openness and the belief that nothing is beyond you. If you really care and if you want to invest time, effort, energy and money you can master it, understand it achieve it. When I look at my life (which at the moment is better than ever before), I have got my naivety to thank for it. Naivety helps you accept people more openly and without suspicion.

Of course you get hurt because not everyone is nice or good (and you are not everyone’s cup of tea either). But that does not have to stop you from believing that people are out there to make this world a better place, and it’s not all a huge conspiracy by the 0.1% to subdue humanity and exploit them for their financial gains.  (I’m not dismissing what Krashen and Cody are talking about but neither do I subscribe to this vision of cynicism and pessimism.)

Naivety is not something that should be avoided. I wish more people were a bit more naive and a bit less blasé and negative. I have had more of my plans destroyed by people being negative than by people who embraced a crazy idea and went with it.

Last weekend I went for a run around Safa park for peace, there were fewer than fifty of us. Did we achieve world peace? No. Was it worth it? Of course it was.


Over to you: Are you a slacktivist? Are you naive?

Coming up: Post 4: My TeachMeet presentation about mentoring


3 Comments so far

  1.    tornhalves on 25/06/2013 12:50      

    You are right that there is no way that we can look toward a better future without trying to emphasise the best in people. Where we disagree is on how to move forward. Do we need more naive idealism, or do we need more self-knowledge? By “self-knowledge” we mean knowledge of ourselves both as passionate individuals with a very particular history, and also as members of a society which perpetuates a very particular set of institutions.

    In your post about utopia you say: “I believe the world as it is at the moment is not sustainable, it is based on social injustice that stems from a long history of colonisation, prejudice and oppression. The world we have inherited is fundamentally flawed, its foundations need to be revisited if we want to survive, prosper and advance.”

    “’s foundations need to be revisited” – Yes. And revisiting foundations has to include scrutinising critically the way we are complicit in perpetuating that history of oppression.

    Angela is implying that things are easy. We just have to buoy up the naive idealism of the children and history will start to turn a corner. But you know better. Things will only start to get better when the greatest faith in the potential goodness of humanity is combined with the deepest knowledge of how that same humanity has dug itself into a pit of oppression, and that continues to insist on a line of historical development that is – as you say – unsustainable.

    Of course we must do everything we can to maintain (or repair) the self-esteem of the children, but if we think that our job is to arrange cheerleading sessions for the children, we will be missing the most important task: helping them acquire that deep knowledge both of themselves and of how humanity dug itself into such a terrible pit.

    You set up a contrast between a naive idealism based on a conviction of our essential goodness and a pessimistic view that blames our downfall on the actions of a distant elite. Surely there are more fruitful ways of approaching our situation. One of those would be for us to develop a deeper appreciation of the essential badness (that is mixed in with the goodness) combined with a deeper understanding of the vast institutional complex that feeds on that badness. If we can tarry with the negative in that way, perhaps we can open up a perspective on the future that avoids the twin pitfalls of naive optimism and cynical pessimism.

  2.    tamaslorincz on 30/06/2013 00:26      

    What a fantastic comment. Thanks Torn.
    Yes, I see how I contradict myself and you are also right that the situation and the solution is much more complex than either of my contradicting observations would suggest.
    The biggest challenge seems to be the creation of a situation in which fundamental change is inevitable. So many of these basic flaws of our established order have been exposed on a daily basis recently from Turkey to Brazil, from Greece to Spain, from Snowden to Assange, from Prism to war crimes – you name it. We have come to the realisation that it’s bad but people don’t have the answers to challenging and deconstructing this overgrown behemoth, the state with all its institutions and mechanisms which have completely alienated and disempowered the people it was supposed to serve.
    One of my worries is that we will have to reach a violent breaking point before we are able to start the process of reorganising our lives around more sustainable, more open, fairer and more just values of equality and a shared responsibility for our living environment.
    Thanks Torn, I have learnt a lot from these conversations with you, and thanks for your patience, too.

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