Friday, 15 July 2011

Serving the community

I'm in a very good position to be of service to the community, which could mean the local community in which I live, or some group that I belong to, such as the community of retired people, or the trans community, or just women as a section of society. But I'm doing nothing, and it mildly bothers me.

Look at me. I have unlimited leisure time, no family to feed, no partner to consider, no boss to appease, a home that's mine, and a pension to live on for the rest of my life. I can pay off my credit card bill every month in full, and do. No mortgage, no obligations, no religion, no criminal record, no scandal hidden away that could haunt me later. No-one's got a hold on me. I'm immune from pressure. So I can voice an opinion and not fear the comeback. I'm free. I can go boldly.

Such a person would be useful to any community - or group - needing an advocate. But I'm doing nothing.

And it will probably stay that way. Long ago I recognised that I'm simply not a person who likes to join anything. Not clubs, not societies, not political parties, not Facebook. Transitioning hasn't altered that in the slightest. I really have thought about becoming a trans advocate, for instance. After all, I'm not doing stealth, and I'm fairly good with words. Or at least I'm fluent with words, with the odd glimmer of meaning in there sometimes, more than the average politician can generally show.

So why not become an activist? But that would mean having to get accredited to some action group, and immediately I'd be rubbing shoulders with people whom I might dislike, even if we were supposed to be aiming at the same goal, and working to the same agenda. Do I want to join some ego-driven contest? No, I'm not ambitious for the limelight, nor for power, nor for celebrity, and I'm not prepared to posture or exaggerate or lie in the name of anything. Nor sit on endless committees. Nor chant slogans on marches. Not even for a very good cause.

I could still quietly volunteer in some humble capacity, working unseen behind the scenes. That would enable me to stay out of the rat-race. But how could that make a big difference? Wouldn't it be a waste of personal potential? How does a Saturday job in a charity shop change anything that's wrong about society?

I can't help feeling that the only way to influence events and get big things done would be to plunge in, elbow my way to the front, shoot my mouth off, get noticed, get my hands dirty, and risk a dirty reputation. That's what people do, who want to make it into national politics, or become media bosses. Not for me.

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Lucy Melford