Musings of an Oasien: Activism and Happiness
Sometimes I like to step back and take a look at myself from a distance, as much as that is possible, that is. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, and I’ve noticed one thing in particular: I’ve been spreading myself out kind of thin. My work and time with my daughters are fairly stable constants in my life.
But on top of that, I have been adding layers and layers of extra “stuff” over the last year or so. Mainly activism, and things that I deem altruistic: registering people to vote through Getting out the Vote, volunteering (Food Bank, Books Between Kids, etc), combating abstinence-only sex education in schools, coordinating blood drives, getting more involved with Houston Oasis (I’m excited and honored to be the new Secretary of the Board), and serving as Houston’s Assistant Director of the American Atheists.
The question I keep asking myself is “Why?” Why am I doing all of this? The time and energy for this are mainly coming from a bucket that I used to use to “recharge my batteries,” or quiet time. I still have some of that, but I don’t go out to listen to live music as much as I used to, and I haven’t touched my PS4 in ages. I get no financial gain from this. But this activism makes me happy; it seems to recharge my batteries as well. I don’t feel that I was lacking in happiness before. I was (and still am) quite content with my life before I started down this road. But I can’t help but want to right the wrongs that I see around me. I am compelled to try to leave this world a better place than I found it.
I have been casually studying various philosophers, searching for a clue and to satisfy some of my curiosity. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel here, anyway. I like Kierkegaard’s concept of society being a cozy illusion to be questioned and laughed at. I like what Aristotle says about needing balance for happiness. I do always say that the universe requires balance. Nietzsche had his own theories about balance which I liked also, but I really resonated with his concept of Amor Fati, which means the love of one’s fate. Basically, the measure of human meaningfulness (and happiness?) is measured by how much you reflect on and embrace the whole of your life to that point — the good and the bad — and realize that it could not have been different.
Perhaps I am layering this altruism and activism to my life story now, proactively, so that at the end I can smile and say to myself “I’m proud of my short adventure.” I was proud of my life before activism, so maybe I’m just being greedy. In an altruistic way.
Why am I writing all of this? Part of me wants to let you know that my experiences in the activism world are adding good things to my life. Houston Oasis is not an activist group. But if you have an activism itch that you need to scratch…you know where to find me.
Stay tuned ….