04 February 2008

My Limits as an Activist

I had a lot on my mind last Saturday and was quite content to be alone with my thoughts at the bus stop as a man approached me to announce that he was just back from the Obama rally. Supporters of the Illinois senator had held a demonstration on the Townsend Park pedestrian island in Albany. Three hundred people make a good showing in that limited space. I hadn't even been aware that a rally was going to happen. I also wasn't interested in chatting with a stranger about it, because I was preoccupied. Furthermore, this guy wasn't entirely a stranger. I had seen him before, usually in the Troy post office. He was the sort who made a point of saying hello and how are you doing to everyone who crossed his path. In his mind he was obviously just being friendly, but it struck me that he had a compulsion to talk that I didn't share. I muttered an acknowledgment of his comment. He went on to emphasize that he was going to vote for Obama on Tuesday. Good for you, I grumbled. He abruptly changed the subject to newspaper delivery. He let me know that he had cancelled his subscription to a local paper because they had failed to make regular deliveries, but the problem now was that they had not yet cancelled the subscription, and were now continuing to bring him newspapers. Now I was certain that this was someone desperate for communication, who needed to talk to people no matter what the subject. I left him for another bus stop up the street.

Of course I was reproaching myself within moments. Wouldn't it have been useful material for this blog if I could talk to a genuine Obama supporter? Would it not have been informative to learn why this individual felt inspired to attend the rally, wear stickers on his coat, and spread the word? Would it also not have been simple humanity to engage a person in a conversation rather than hide inside my own head? I concede every point, but as I said, I was preoccupied. I am preoccupied much of the time. It comes with being introverted, and it doesn't exactly help my efforts to be politically engaged. But that's my identity, and that helps shape my priorities. I'm sure it's the source of my concern for achieving solidarity without conformity. I wonder sometimes whether I should reconsider my priorities, and whether I should look forward to a world without introverts -- and then I wonder whether that's possible or desirable. But even to ruminate like this is to indulge my introversion, and those of you who've come to read a political blog are probably tiring of it. But then again, you might have agreed with my first impression that that guy was sort of a loon. You probably had to be there.

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