• By Lt. Tim McMillan

I am NOT an Activist. Here's Why...

When it comes to me, there is Lt. McMillan the professional police officer. This Lt. McMillan encompasses my primary career, as for how I financially support myself and my family. Additionally, there is a personal-professional version of Lt. McMillan. The later Lt. McMillan, represents the part of me who is a public advocate for people, who believes with, a conviction that humanity as a collective inherently desires peace amongst people and the ability to harmoniously enjoy life.

To a large degree, the later Lt. McMillan in no way resembles any personal sustenance for me. In fact, the personal-professional me incurs a great deal of respective emotional, physical, mental, and financial stress and loss. Truthfully, when I actually sit down and think about it; especially when I am going through some of the tough times in life that all of us equally incur at times, I think how utterly insane am I? I mean this may be the most ridiculously self-destructive hobby that one could possibly come up with.

Essentially, that is indeed what it is, an activity done regularly in my leisure time for pleasure…a hobby. However, unlike sports, building model airplanes, scrapbooking, bird watching, woodworking, drawing, or knitting, I feel an intimate deep sense of purpose in what I do in my personal-professional life. Therefore, ultimately in no way does this come close to resembling a hobby. At least not in the traditional sense of the word.

Now, when it came to defining personal-professional self, the most straightforward way I’ve done that is to call myself an activist. However, I have come to realize that I do not resemble, nor even desire to resemble, what has come to be recognized as the modern activist. In fact, I actually could be considered an anti-activist, as to a large part, I resist the entire ideological belief systems of the collective modern activist's community.

Make no mistake, I have said countless numbers of times that I support minority, immigrant, religious, LGBT, American, international and yes, even political rights… Because they are all human rights. I actually wrote an entire article outlining in specificity why I support every categorical classification one could possibly come up with to define human beings. As a component of supporting every conceivable category of people, that involves me speaking out and campaigning for social change whenever any group of people is disenfranchised or face injustice in the world. Now superficially, this sounds like activism. However, these do not seem to be the goals of the modern activists. In fact, modern activists, largely resemble antagonists than they do protagonists in society.

To me, the concept of activism should involve a desire to highlight injustice, with the intent of establishing an equilibrium in society so as to establish equitable justice. However, that does not seem to be the goal of modern activists. More importantly, modern activists do not even employ the methodology necessary to overcome the injustices they highlight in order to institute impartially in society. Rather shockingly, the most vocal of advocacy groups or individual public activists seem to display a form of manifest destiny or conqueror mindset.

Essentially, the modern activist pays little to no regard to the perceptions, beliefs, or opinions of those they challenge in order to demand social justice. Failing to understand the experiences that cultivated the environment in which one was oppressed or disenfranchised, ultimately means that one has no desire whatsoever to actually establish equality. Instead, this type of activism resembles colonialism.

Worse yet, the colonialism style of activism has a dramatic opposite effect on the stated objective. Since disenfranchised groups always represent minority demographics in society, the antagonistic form of modern advocacy is doomed to fail from the very onset. The majority will suddenly resist, by every means necessary, against whatever one is advocating. There actually is no other outcome for antagonistic activism, because, the majority, whether consciously or unconsciously, recognizes that the modern activists have no desire to harmoniously exists with them, and instead desire to conquer them by force. What we end up with are EXACTLY what we have now in this country. Two vastly polarized sides who have no desire to meet in the middle, listen, work with, or even understand the opposing views of the other side. They don’t care what they are, they just know they're different than their's and therefore they are wrong.

In truth, one side is indeed wrong. However, we aren’t talking about the answer to final Jeopardy. The answer to that is something easily verifiable and devoid of emotional attachment. It’s quite the opposite. The topics that require advocacy involve complex, emotional issues, that are rooted in the immersed experiences that total individual’s entire lives. You cannot ever aim to make a collective of people realize the incorrectness of their personal biases by simply saying, “Because you are f$#&ing stupid!”

One of the biggest problems of modern advocacy seems to be the chaotic nature in which it is conducted with no real organizational goals in mind. Take, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, as an overarching theme, I have been a supporter of Black Lives Matter my entire life. Moreover, I’m not oblivious to the message behind why one says, “Black Lives Matter” and not, “All Lives Matter.” Of course all lives matter. No one is saying they don’t. However, when one says “Black Lives Matter,” what they are saying really is, Black Lives Matter ALSO. In effect, African Americans do not feel like their life matters as much as White lives, particularly when it comes to interactions with the police. However, when it comes to the operational strategies of the Black Lives Matter’s formal institution, there are some catastrophic problems.

Probably the most important aspect that is lacking in the Black Lives Matter movement is a lack of strategic planning and structure. What are the overarching goals? What is the analysis of the problems that we face in achieving these goals? What are the specific objectives that are necessary to target to achieve our goals? How are we going to constructively respond in order to be successful? And finally, how do we measure whether or not we are successful in achieving our goals?

Ultimately, the act of protest is merely meant to be a statement or action that expresses an objection to something in an attempt to garner attention, so as to gather support to solve the concern. Additionally, there is indeed a powerful expression by those who protest that gives a feeling of regaining some power in one’s life. This is important, especially when people have been made to feel powerless.

However, once your protest has gained attention, you have to then have a realistic and workable solution to the problem you're protesting. This will require being prepared with actionable solutions and legitimate information. Without this, the entire operation is doomed from the start. No matter how many protests you hold, without having further, structured goals past a protest, eventually those you are protesting against will simply tune out and turn off.

The other problem with modern activism is the lack of organizational structure. Now, I’m not picking on Black Lives Matter specifically, however, they are a good example of modern activism can end up winning some battles, but lose the war. Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization. In this regard, it is a network of people that fall under a name and not an organization. There is no national model in regards to membership policies, requirements, or adherence to a set of core standards or values. Each chapter comes up with their own individual policies, procedures, and standards. Basically, the goals, beliefs, thoughts, and opinions of each Black Lives Matter chapter can vastly vary from chapter to chapter. Without any security or integrity over the name of your movement and organization, you lose complete control of the entire institution as a whole.

Essentially, each chapter can say or do whatever they want and say it under the Black Lives Matter banner. What this means is the entire organization is vulnerable to whatever any one chapter engages in, yet has zero controls to protect the collective institution. Bet your ass, one chapter says something crazy or engages in violence, and the news media is going to play this over and over, and it is going to be representative of the entire organization. This isn’t even something we need to daydream about. This is EXACTLY what has occurred. Ultimately, this has a devastating effect on the entire message and movement of the organization. Because it cannot ever be dismissed that you have to reach the majority and get them on board in order to make real change. Most importantly, you cannot count on there being enough inquisitive or culturally open members of the majority, who will understand and reject isolated incidents as not being representative of the entire organization. Basically, under this model, even if there were formal objectives, goals, responses, and metrics of success in place, you’ll never reach that point because the majority has tuned out and turned off even hearing your message.

This style of asymmetrical activism is overwhelming the norm in modern America. This was the same style of activism that was employed with the Women’s March. This irregular and elastic style of activism is very good at one thing… bringing out crowds. The flexible and unstructured modern form of activism makes for impressive imagery. However, after the crowd goes away…now what? Have we done anything?

Ok, fine. In Ferguson, the police chief was fired and other reformation policies were put in place. So in that regard, indeed one can say that something was done. However, how’s everyone feeling about the other 18,000 local and state law enforcement agencies in America?

Ultimately, the structural integrity of modern activism movements concerns me. These modern activism “movements” or organizations lack substance beyond making for an impressive demonstration of large gatherings of people. Which goes back to the very fact that the ideological mandates that seem to dictate modern activism represent colonialism, rather than actual advocacy towards the equitable solution to social problems.

Modern activism is operating under the precedent that the topic being protested will catch wind and become a populist movement. Therefore, the once minority opinions will become the majority view. Two huge problems with this. One, the majority that you are fighting against will resist and demonize your movement with the fire of a thousand suns. To them, you will represent cultural genocide to their beliefs. Even when the majority's beliefs may be morally and ethically wrong. Morals and ethics won’t even come up the majority and instead, they will consider you the enemy. In some regards, because a lack of willingness to mediate to resolve problems, indeed this does make one feel like they are your enemy. So now both sides are enemies. No good comes out of this, especially to the minority side.

The second problem is, as you gain momentum in popularity with your movement, the people joining with your cause are doing so out of a fad mentality and not actual concern or understanding of the intimacies in what it is exactly your protesting. Therefore, let’s say even if you do get a majority rule with your movement, suddenly this collective is highly susceptible to now go from the oppressed to the oppressors. Why wouldn’t they? A large portion of the group don’t even know why they supported the cause, only that it was the cool thing to do at the time, and the other side was the enemy. Now, I have the power to control my enemy. That’s what we’re supposed to do right?

Ultimately, at the end of the day, I cannot say I’m an activist because I do not fit into the mold of a modern activist. I desire to see equality amongst people, not ebbs and flows in the views of superiority and inferiority in society. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that my style of thinking when it comes to achieving equality, requires a lot more work and takes a lot more time. It requires one to almost at the grassroots level reach out to the ones that need to be reached and say, “Hey, I’m not here to fight you. In fact, I believe in you and believe that you truly have the desire to be a good person. I don’t want to make you think, act, believe, or behave just like me. I DON’T want you to share in every single one of my opinions. All I am asking is that you have a desire to not see other people mistreated, disenfranchise, or oppressed. Now, even if right now, you don’t think that anyone is really unfairly treated, just listen to me, and let’s have a conversation. I want to hear your experience that shaped why you feel a certain way and let me share mine. I want to live with you not without you, so let’s figure it out and end up figuring it out in a way that we both are totally cool with our differences.”

That type of “activism” may take more time and it may take more work. However, it represents how we can bring about enduring changes in society. Most importantly, above all else, an activist should desire to know and share the truth. Not the truth that only supports their views or beliefs. But the actual real, factual, truth. I refuse to believe that people are “too stupid” to understand or see the truth. You just have to be willing to not insult people and treat them like they are stupid. Then all you have to do is be willing to say the truth.

At the end of the day, whatever personal-professional Lt. McMillan is, I don't know. However, this is exactly what I believe and how I go about trying to reach people. Am I perfect? Heck no! Assuredly, we are all human and at times my ego has gotten in the way. However, in totality, my beliefs and mission have never changed, and I do like to think, I’ve been able to get more people to challenge their existing opinions than any of these marches or protest. So, indeed my “hobby” is, emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially taxing on me. However, it simply isn’t a “hobby” I can just walk away from.

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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