Manifesto of a Non-Activist

Tristan Axelrod

I support gay rights, but I do not wish to join MOQA. I would like more racial diversity at our college, but I am not in favor of increased affirmative action. I am in favor of environmentalism, but I would rather not attend Bill McKibben’s lecture. I vote Democrat, but I respect and admire John Roberts and William Rehnquist. I cried when my grandfather died of cancer, but I didn’t think Relay for Life would be a great use of my time or money.

I feel that it is unfortunate that some asshole has written hateful things on the walls, but I don’t think there is much the college can do about it. I hate the Iraq War but I don’t think we should pull out of it. I don’t agree with the liquor inspector’s policies but I don’t think he’s destroying Middlebury’s social scene.

I want the world to be a better place, I have some good ideas about how to make it better, and I act on my ideas and my moral convictions, but I don’t need to prove it to you by attending certain events.

I am proud of who I am and the impact I am making on the world, America, and the Middlebury community. I respect other people for trying to improve the world; I enjoy personal friendships based on mutual respect and enjoyment with many people whose methods and opinions I do not endorse.

Unfortunately, there are too many problems in the world to devote my time and energy towards all of them. I have to pick and choose, and ultimately that means I won’t attend the vast majority of meetings, lectures, and protests that occur on this campus. I’m too busy living my own life and caring about other things. And I’m not sorry about that.

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2 Responses to “Manifesto of a Non-Activist”


  1. 1 Ceara Danaher May 23, 2007 at 4:54 am

    Thank goodness someone finally came out and said it. This speaks so strongly to my opinions that I feel like I could have written it…except that it wouldn’t have turned out nearly this well. Tristan, thank you.

  2. 2 Dan Roberts May 24, 2007 at 4:53 am

    My god do I love this article, Tristan. You’re so right. Nothing aggravates me more than being shunned by active, hippie political kids for not going to Bill McKibben’s talk, or not giving money to the Relay for Life by purchasing a t-shirt. Really, just because I don’t have the time to hear about why our country is fucked and why global warming is coming fast does not mean I don’t care. I do. But I also believe— and hey, sorry if I sound cynical— that the absence of one person (me) at the hate speech meeting (or whatever the cause of the day might be) is not going to make a difference. That’s just how I feel, and apparently so do you. Well done.


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