I am not an activist. I am just someone with a loud mouth and opinions about important topics. I refuse to accept a “sad reality” as the norm and I will not sit back complaining about how humanity has doomed itself. But an activist? No, I am just a person who will not accept what I believe is wrong.
My father was a political activist, like his father before him. They did not set the bar for me; thy showed me what it truly means and set examples for me. As is common historical knowledge, Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and sent millions of people to the concentration camps. In 1940, during the AB Action, my grandfather became one of them. First he was sent to Dachau, then to Mauthausen-Gusen. He survived, and went on to write about his experiences. Stanisław Dobosiewicz, my grandfather, was an outspoken teacher and writer until the very end. The memories of the horrors he witnessed during his life haunted him forever; his final years were spent trapped in the hellish nightmares of his mind. But even as a frail old man on the brink of death, there was no doubt in my mind he would have made a dangerous political enemy. For all the torment and suffering, his strength was still visible. Not just his strength, I should say, but also my grandmother and uncle, who was born before the war.
After World War II ended in 1945, the Soviet Union controlled Poland as a Communist state. To put it mildly, life was not good. When my father was a young man in university, he was a part of a massive riot in Warsaw. He managed to avoid the police and, with help from my grandfather, escaped to the mountains so he would not be forced into the army. There he met some of his friends and he has many stories about his time there. The point is, though, he opposed the government and would have lost everything had my grandfather not helped. My father always told me “you drink before you speak of the government so you have some deniability, and always do so in public.” My favourite of his sayings to me is, “A rebellion is just a failed revolution.” Growing up in a land of free speech and human rights, I have never had to experience either. We are free to speak out without the same fear of punishment. And so we do, often, and for whatever suits our fancy.
But this is not political activism. My life is not on the line every time I write a blog post or tweet. The worst I have to deal with as a result of expressing my views is my mother, and I know she will not kill me.
There has always been an inherent sense of independence and freedom amongst the Polish, which to me has always been shown in my family. So for me, political activism is modern freedom fighting and until I can truthfully say I would lay down my life for the cause, sacrifice everything including everyone I know, I cannot call myself a political activist. But there is no way I will be silent.