One should never assume that activists have some sort of moral throne that is resistant to the abuse of power. On the contrary, we often find ourselves immune to accountability. After all, who could dare question the self-sacrificing, marginalized, intelligent do-gooder who is so damn important to the cause? And with lack of liability, we are more prone to – and we do – perpetuate harm in private and public relationships until we become a cult personality obsessed with maintaining its persona and thus more resistant to critique. It is a vicious cycle. Who better to play the victim than someone who understands victimhood so well?
I used to think this cycle depended on people’s characters but am starting to realize it has little to do with personalities and more to do with the system. It’s almost involuntary on the part of many, yet quite unavoidable. The only way to avoid it is to think of accountability as our collective responsibility as a necessity for real transformation – from within our movements first and in public spheres to follow. Now when we think of accountability, one easily imagines attacks and vendettas and ugliness. That’s not what it has to be like at all. In fact, that’s the only form of it we know because it is so far from being a natural part of our movements. Accountability can be kind and sincere and full of love if the right frameworks and approaches are put in place. I am not sure how but I know it is a must. Nothing inflates an ego like activism; it is a monster that needs powerful mechanisms to keep it in check for the benefit of whatever cause one is fighting for.