Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Armchair Radical: First Runner Up Person of the Year 2011

Time Magazine

Born in 1970, I was too young to protest the Vietnam War, to burn my bra with fellow feminists, to lock arms with my African-American brothers and sisters during the Civil Rights Era, or to do any meaningful protesting with my LGBTQ friends, other than getting called to the principal's office when I was a sophomore for screaming, "Fuck You!" at a boy for calling my friend a fag as we walked by him in the hallway. The three of us--a nerdy/punkish/hippie girl, an artsy/androgenously dressed boy, and a semi-popular jock--sat with the principal--an African-American woman in charge of a predominately white suburban school. She let us take turns voicing our opinions, allowing us to leave only after the boy apologized to my friend for calling him a viscious name and I apologized to the principal for swearing in her school.

Other than that, I rarely ever publically voiced my opinions about things that matter to me until I joined Facebook a few years ago. I discovered an easy way for me to speak my mind without uttering a word or leaving the comfort of my chair. An introspective lazy person's dream. I took to armchair radicalism like a three-eyed fish to a poisoned pond. I even wrote an essay about it. I need to search for it in my old files so I can share it here, but I don't have time now. I need to leave to pick up my kindergartener from school.

So I'm quite happy Time Magazine has chosen "The Protester" as Person of the Year.

It makes me want to take to the streets and join them. My inner-hippie heart is stoked that radicals are once again relevent. And listened to. And taken seriously. It's no longer just our drugs mainsteam society wants, but our ideas and our practical solutions to personal, family, community, national, and global problems.

Here's what Time editor Richard Stengel thinks:

"For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is Time's 2011 Person of the Year."

I don't have the time or the energy to join them, so I do what I can with my Facebook rants and blog posts. It's not as cool as actually being out there in the streets with them, but I like to think in my small way letting others know that regular people like me--kind, smart, quirky, stubborn, self-centered, empathetic, contradictory people with opinions and the love of words to share them--are not the dirty, crazy lunatics activists are sometimes sterotyped to be, but also moms with dirty houses to clean and crazy schedules to juggle, trying to get by like everyone else--helps the cause.

And I'm far from the only one. It's refreshing to see so many of my friends share their opinions and express their ideas freely. It can only make this world a better place.

We don't all have time to leave the house to join others in protest. I therefore nominate the Armchair Radical as first-runner-up Person of the Year.