An Activist’s Creed


I believe that doing something is better than doing nothing.

            When a bus is stuck and blocking traffic, I call 911 and ask for police to direct traffic.  When a spare tire is in the middle of the Rt. 81 on-ramp, I pull out my cell phone and call 911 to have it removed.  When the snow is not being shoveled off the neighboring business’s sidewalk, thereby forcing people in wheelchairs out into street traffic, I call the city’s ADA coordinator to get the sidewalk shoveled.  I do not understand people who are passive witnesses to wrong nor will I be one of them.

I believe that I cannot change the world but I can clean up my own backyard.

            I can make improvements in the community in which I live and through which I move.  I can leave the city better than I found it.  One fellow with major psychiatric difficulties takes this literally:  he spends his day’s walking around his neighborhood picking up trash.  Figuratively, if we each cleaned up our own backyard then we would change the world.

I believe that the laws currently governing society are, by and large, good and sufficient.

            I do not advocate for new legislation or the violation of existing legislation.  I am a law abiding citizen.

I believe that the problem with services is that they do not meet the required standards.

            I educate myself as to what are the required standards and then act to get the standards met.  Each system has in place standards and a process for reporting substandard situations.  I use the system as it has been set up.

I believe that the problem with existing systems is that they do not have a feedback component.

            The policymakers at the top either are not eliciting, or are actively rejecting, input from the endpoint user.  What is designed to help the people ends up not doing so but the people at the top don’t know what is happening at the bottom.

I believe that I have the right to approach, reason with, or confront any person at any level of the hierarchy.

            No person is better than I am and if my cause is just and my facts are accurate then I not only can, but must, work my way up the power structure until I get a problem fixed. 

I believe that power is to be used to serve the people.

            Most people want power to serve their own ego needs.

 I believe that committees are formed either for the ego of the leader or the protection of the members.

            I have neither the need to serve my ego nor to have human protection, therefore I do not sit on committees or attend their meetings.  Committees are principally committed to mediocrity and inaction.  Instead of doing, they talk about doing; I do.

 I believe that lawyers are unnecessary and an impediment to justice.

            Lawyers work for money and power, not truth and justice.

I believe that virtually everything of human concern in the United States has government oversight, and that the government has a complaint process for all things.

            As an activist, I effectively use the complaint process.  First, I educate myself about the rules.  Second, I document the ways in which the rules are broken.  Third, I find the person in government who can change the way things are being done and give him the information.

I believe that the person who will implement change must have the intelligence to understand the situation; the moral rectitude to know that it is wrong; the authority to change it, and the courage to go against the status quo.

            There are very few of these people working in government.

I believe that God will protect me from those who seek to harm me because I am an activist.

            I answer to no man.  I work for God and therefore am fearless in my actions.  If I am right then God will protect me; if I am wrong then God help me.  If I humbly follow God’s will then I will be right.

                                                      Anne C Woodlen

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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