Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Activism is good for you

Well, I'd say that political activism is good for society. An engaged and confident citizenry is able to shape society and hold their 'betters' to account in a way that a passive electorate that simply take the gruel their given without rocking the boat cannot.

Well, according to this little article, it's not just good for society its also good for the activists themselves. Researchers "recruited hundreds of college students and found that those who identified themselves as activists and who said they were planning some activism were happier and more fulfilled than non-activists."

Our intrepid researchers didn't stop there though because as yet they couldn't tell whether it was happier people who got involved in politics or the activity that perked them up. So they tried this little test "One hundred and twelve student participants were encouraged to write to the college cafeteria director calling on him to source food more locally and ethically. These students subsequently reported feeling more energised and alive than a control group of participants who wrote to the director calling for tastier food and more choice".

I suspect this is a load of nonsense, of course, and generally I would say that a lot of an activist's happiness may well come down to whether they are winning or not - but what about activists' spouses or children? Personal experience tells me that they are not always over the moon about their loved one being out all hours prioritising a residents' association over baby's first steps.

I'm definitely not in politics because it makes me personally happy but because I probably couldn't stop if I tried. A natural born busybody I guess. Maybe there is something in the idea that the more control you have in your workplace, your community, your local newspaper, whatever, must give you some feeling of satisfaction - even if your politics are definitely of the malcontent rather status quo kind.

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