Social activism has been an imperative part of the U.S. political panorama ever since the conception of the nation. The country itself originated through a revolution of the masses. Revolting against injustice is, after all, as American as Thanksgiving. However, in a time convulsed by a divided society and mixed values, activism seems to have become a means to more fighting rather than a battle for the greater good.
Historically, revolutions have been promoted by a wave of radicalization that can only be born from exhaustion caused by a failed status quo. The transformation of a society lies in the need of renewal of an expired system where revolution seems like the only solution. But once the dust settles, the need for cooperation between the members of a newly created society is mandatory for the proper functioning of society.
If this argument is to be followed, it is logical to seek communal ground over which to build a working community. In today’s environment, though, the U.S. has become the setting of a bipolar fight between two political ideologies instead of a civilized atmosphere for the exchange of ideas. We find ourselves in a philosophical civil war.
In such a state, the actors of social groups are forced to become radical individuals who can no longer see beyond their own perspectives and are as lethal to an effective democracy as the counterparts they are trying to fight. If this is the case, it does not come as a surprise to see rebels with a cause alienate like-minded fellows because of their refusal to radicalize themselves.
To the drastic activist, it makes sense to get rid of the weak units. Radicalization is not suggested, but almost mandated by peer pressure. You are either with them or against them, there is no middle ground.
It is not uncommon to find individuals looking to address their societal concerns but failing to join a cause due to their aversion to becoming militants instead of activists. The cause is lost on the road of the idealist becoming a fanatic.
The American socio-political arena has turned into a fight for power between two blind titans. It is an “us versus them” scenario that is not helping conflict solvency in the least.
Between trigger warnings, neo-Nazi rallies, safe spaces and a failing attempt to recreate the 1960s Civil Rights Movement era, both sides seem as ideologically distant as usual and as close in action as ever. Both ideologies have estranged each other in such a way that seeking to prove they hold the truth has become more important than tenaciously looking for it.
A revolution of the masses is in order, but we cannot fight injustice when it is the masses who are creating it in the first place.
Although hate speech should not be condoned, ultimately, the First Amendment protects it and, as citizens of the so-called land of the free, shielding it is important to keep dialogue.
The turning point lies in that neither part is willing to talk to each other nor listen to different points of view. Echo chambers and fighting hate with more hate are the norm now.
Deep introspection is urgent to grasp a well-defined idea of what is needed and, more importantly, what is the right way to achieve it.
Social actors should, for a second at least, stop tweeting and start thinking past their need to be victimized or idolized.
The ever-so-pure human need for justice and truth is now nothing more than a competition to see who can get the most inflammatory argument against the other. The self-gratifying nature of the 21st century activist has destroyed the fire of fighting for an ideal.
Ideals have turned into radicalized fanaticism that will, eventually, be just nihilist thoughts in the minds of a hopeless community torn by the need to be always right.
Stephanie Sanchez is a junior journalism, classics, and political science major from Quito, Ecuador.