One of the questions that have always been directed at me in my journey as an activist is, “why do you care?” and the question is always followed by a rebuke, “you too emotional. You mustn’t be so emotional.”
I have discovered that being emotionally involved in the work I do is seen as huge flaw and sometimes I get dismissed on the basis of having shown too much emotion; in fact I suspect that some people regard me as being highly unstable.
At times the way they say “you’re too emotional” seems to imply that my mental faculties are short-circuited by the strong feelings I attach to what I do.
When I write about children who’ve been molested, women who’ve been betrayed, girls who’ve been violated or the myriad of unjust events that transpire in our society; I sometimes get back-handed compliments that go something like: “you write so well. Those were some powerful words. It was really moving and touching. So I guess you were also abused as a child because from the way you put it; I could tell that this person is really speaking from experience.”
I wonder why people suppose that things matter only when they affect them and what doesn’t affect them does not matter.
I don’t need to be raped, or brutalized, or violated, or treated unfairly for me denounce the act – to me it is enough that there has been an injustice; that someone somewhere has suffered. To me it is enough that there is someone – human like me – who is in pain, who needs help, who needs to heard and whose pain was undeserved.
I grew up with a very keen sense of justice; it is something deeply ingrained me – like someone with a fine-tuned ear for music can pick out a discord no one else hears – I pick out the subtle nuances of injustice that some people remain oblivious to.
So if something is not fair – I can’t just shut up about it just because it doesn’t directly affect, involve or impact on me.
I mean why shouldn’t I care?
I have girlfriends who have a fit every time a favorite outfit gets ruined, I have pals who get so torn when they break a manicured nail or when a trusted hair dresser spoils a good weave by failing to get it right.
I have friends who get so traumatized when their favorite soccer team loses, they have fits when their car gets a tiny dent or scratch and they can have a near death experience their favorite shirt gets scorched by an iron or whatever.
They care about these things but I care about people – women in particular and I have a very special spot for children too.
I care about the condition of people’s lives; I care about justice and about equality. I care about empowerment and education. I care about development, health and climate change. I care about the economy, politics and our history. I care about the total sum of experiences that define us and I care about the choices that are availed to us as people and I care also about the choices that we are denied.
Why shouldn’t I care?
Recently when I had to make a presentation at the UN’s 55th CSW; the Moremi Fellow chairing the session remarked on the rest of us MILEAD Fellows saying, “the women you are about to hear from have a passion for their work that has bridged the gap between doing and being. They are so passionate that activism is not something they do – it is something (one of many things) that they are.”
Yes, I get emotional. I don’t quantify how I feel about the plight of humanity so I can never tell whether I get “too” emotional about elevating the status of women. All I know is that I can never be indifferent, cool, detached, aloof and nonchalant.
I can only be myself – passionate, involved, committed, single-minded and sometimes militant in my pursuit for the realization of social justice for women and for other vulnerable social groups that have been pushed to the margins.
If people can obsess over soccer to the point of pouring billions into the sport – surely I can have the lee-way to obsess about a better a world for girls and women to the point of devoting my life towards that cause.
If people can get so worked up about their appearances and spends fortunes on hair, nails, make up, accessories and clothing to the point of grieving inconsolably when any of these ‘necessities’ are compromised – surely I can be allowed the luxury to use every platform and opportunity availed to me to share the stories of society’s victims and call for justice to prevail.
So what if they’re not related to me? So what if I’ve never been in their situation? So what if they never asked me to speak on their behalf? And so what if I have never met them or known them personally?
All I know is that wherever there is a fight for justice – that is where I belong. I am a crusader – I do care.
Some people care about things; well I just care about people more than I care about things.
Why shouldn’t I care?
Parting shot: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” – Marcus Tullius Cicero