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Balancing Ourselves in the Activist Fight


Balancing Ourselves in the Activist Fight

Debbie Metke

“Sometimes you have to live someone else’s life.” Those were the last words spoken to me by a terrific activist the day before she suddenly collapsed and died this Labor Day while staffing a United Nations Association table at Laborfest.


Thank you, Debbie, for your thoughtful words on the the sudden passing of Anita Zeidler…and for the important insight that we do need to recharge ourselves once in a while by connecting with friends, family and the things we love in life. After all, those are the things we are all fighting for.


There are not many people who die doing what they love and doing what’s needed in this world. Staying that committed…that long…adds to her heroism and legacy. Thank you for telling us her story!


Thank you Debbie!
Bob Neumann


The park I think you are referring to, Zeidler Union Square, was actually named in honor of Frank’s older brother Carl, who was also a Milwaukee mayor (but not a socialist)


Debbie, thank you for this article. Laura and I saw Anita Zeidler just minutes before she collapsed. We have lost one of Milwaukee’s great activists.


Being an ardent activist myself I read Metke’s article looking for inspiration and a renewed sense of hope in often unyielding uphill struggle that creating change in our world seems to be. With endearing sentiments behind her words, Metke reveals the story of a friend, activist and legend that reveals a very telling truth to what we as activist must understand: there is only one of us and we need to take care of ourselves above all else. If we do not, the visions, missions and goals, dreams and aspirations we all strive for to make this world and its people better will suffer as well. Metke’s tireless endeavours as an activist herself are commendable as is her knowledge that pacing oneself in life, especially when so much is at stake, is a quintessential part of activism itself. If we fizzle, so do our movements. In the world of activism this author’s poignant and heart-felt message is a warning for all of those out there seeking to make this world better; one which I myself strive to heed and I hope others do as well. I thank the author for bringing this to light in a world today where messages of self-compassion are paradoxically direly needed and yet so very scarce and often shunned.


Saving the world is - and MUST be - a part-time job. If your activism isn’t joyful, try something else!


Hits the nail on the head. We need to achieve balance . . . of enjoyment, of accomplishment, of doing all the right things, and taking care of ourselves at the same time. Important words for activists.


Thank you for such an insightful article, Debbie. All people, especially activists, can learn from the wisdom of your words. With so many challenges in our world, it is easy to get involved with so many organizations that make a difference. If one doesn’t recognize the value of slowing down or finding the balance in one’s life, burnout or exhaustion can happen. It is an ongoing struggle for me to learn this lesson but reading your article reminded me of the importance of “smelling the roses”. I volunteered with Anita at several events and dearly miss her. If everyone in the world volunteered 1/100th of what she did, I think we’d be in pretty good shape!

In Peace, Kristina Paris