Friday, May 15, 2009

Acting like an Activist

One time in Finland I joined an organization devoted to the free speech of writers, thinking that I would end up sending prison letters, signing petitions, organizing events, and trying to support people who are in prison or threatened because of something they wrote.

Within weeks of joining, I found myself surrounded by some kind of epic Lord of the Rings power battle in which it was not clear to me who were the orcs and whether there was a Frodo, except everyone claimed to be Frodo and that the other guys are the orcs.

I was asked to run to be on the board of the organization, and like an idiot I agreed, and became part of the power struggle I didn't understand, and now there were people claiming I was an orc trying to eat all the helpless little hobbits. Someone apparently sent emails to everyone trashing me and accusing me of all these crazy motives that I have no idea what they were to this day, because I didn't see the emails explaining my alleged motives and I had just joined recently and was really just worried about people having to go to prison for writing something. I didn't know any of the people in the organization. Something tells me the fact that they suspected anyone wanting to support their organization of nefarious political motives may have something to do with what they knew about themselves.


After the next meeting, where I was made to feel like I was a tyrant personally imprisoning and torturing writers, and the guy claiming to be a hobbit got everyone elected on the board that he wanted, I backed away and decided that I had been right as an alienated teenager: organization types are scary, yet pathetic. Kind of like orcs, actually.

So I don't know why I thought it would be different this time, because it wasn't really that much different. Except this time the people in the organization didn't even know what their own rules are. True to tradition as I know it, they didn't even once during the meeting mention their alleged reason for having the organization in the first place, which is supposed to be the benefit and well being of their neighbors.

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