Saturday, February 28, 2009

Radicals... can't live with them but where would we be without them

So your best friend is a radical. The type of person who is fixated about "the cause". Whether that cause is the defence of the French language in Quebec or the survival of the wild amoeba, he finds ways of relating everything and anything to it. Every time you go out, conversations always end up focusing on "the cause". You like the guy but sometimes you would just like to see him go to neutral and just "be" for a while.

But radicals can't do that. That's why they're so annoying and, so necessary. I don't think I need to explain why they can be annoying; any one that's ever been to a steak house with a vegetarian or to a strip club with a feminist knows that... Why they are necessary is another matter. Without radicals, many forms of abuse would go unnoticed until it too late. Without radical non-smokers, we would still be getting second hand smoke in bars and restaurants; without radical ecologists, lumber barons would still be destroying our forests with no regard for future generations. In a way, whether we like it or not, radicals are our conscience.

What radicals need is some good PR advice to help them with public opinion. They do great things but these don't seem to influence their image. We love to hate Green Peace and Amnesty International but, on the other hand, are really happy to see whales on our summer vacation and Nelson Mandela smile on television. Ask someone to describe a radical and you will consistently get the image of an extremist militant with a Molotov cocktail in one hand and some sort of manifest in the other.

We need to understand that radicals are people too and are productive members of our society. So, to start breaking down the barriers, I suggest we all go out and hug a radical.

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