The Personal Is Political

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Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Dr. Eloesser, 1940, Oil on masonite, 59,5 x 40 cm, Private Collection. Licensed Replica: © Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008

I remember back to my university days where I elected to study feminist theory during much of my foray into Art History. It was probably one of the most formative academic influences in my life, and the lessons I learnt from long hours absorbed in the beautifully illustrated books under that great dome of the La Trobe Reading Room in Melbourne’s State Library.

This week, I emailed a good friend with some unresolved feelings about what The Personal Is Political actually meant for me.

After crafting many an essay where the expression was deployed with aplomb, I was brought to a halt with the realisation that my understanding might not have penetrated much deeper than a strong intellectual resonance.

My brother’s death and the 10 City Bridge Run which is the epic journey that this blog relates to were intertwined through his son Xander who died an early death as an infant.

I was observing the media circus coveting an exclusive release from the very serious and tragic Lindt Cafe incident. If you think my description of circus is callous, look no further than the exclamation of ‘Congrats!’ from one well-known person in the wake of the heartbreaking conclusion to the siege.

So why was this such an issue? I was taken back to the how the media and government played out the MH17 incident. On board that flight was my uncle with three of his grandchildren.

The resources that CNN alone poured into getting me onto the line were astounding. How was I to make sense of this in my personal life, and then express that to a public audience of friends. To be honest, it had me stumped for a while.

The Personal is Political. More than ever, we have seen this being expressed through taglines such as #illridewithyou. Laying of flowers was a very personal thing to do, but it could be equally interpreted as an expression of defiance against threats to pour good society. The discussions that were waged either side of this often became slagging matches between the Left and the Right.

Harsh? Unfair? Insensitive? Not at all.

It is the tragic events that draw us closer to appreciating what we value most. As painful as that can be, it is a very human experience that we should be open to so as to listen.

The Personal is Political. The activist becomes effective when they move beyond being fuelled by an anger that is distant to their own personal experience. The activist must connect to what matters to them, and know why it matters for them. It doesn’t mean they must be anger, but it often is a by-product of passion.

The Personal is Political. For too long child mortality has been represented by statistics and information stalls giving away showbags full of bookmarks and PostIt Notes. Unless we connect to what matters, and why it matters to us, these Design Forum will be a flop and a waste of time.

I have had a lot of time to think during some of this running. Contemplating why? Getting to that point of thinking maybe I have it all wrong, and I should leave it to the ‘experts’. Those doubts are natural in taking ownership of what an issue means for you. It has to come from within. The Personal is Political.

It is the passion that comes from knowing The Personal is Political that enabled me to get other my hesitation and push the publish button on the campaign to fund this epic journey to honour my brother’s legacy. Please visit the page at this link, share it, and if you are able please contribute.

Whatever you do, just remember one thing. The Personal is Political.



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