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Never give up, never surrender
Just because something is unlikely, does that mean we shouldn’t try?
A few weeks ago I posted a blog questioning whether naturists were a minority, and suggesting that our numbers may be greater than we imagine. I also suggested that it is time to stand up and be counted, in an effort to gain momentum rather than stay standing silently in the shadows.
The post attracted a few comments from readers, and after only a few days had become one of my most popular posts.
I find it interesting how a single idea in a comment from a reader can trigger a response that transforms into a blog. I really value the feedback that my readers provide as it keeps my writing inspiration going, especially at times when I am struggling with something to say.
One reader, Jillian, wrote:
To answer the question in your headline, yes, naturists are a minority group when it comes to civil rights. Collectively, naturists' rights to be nude are limited and will remain so to greater and lesser degrees around the world. And the day will never come when people will have the right to walk naked down Main St. along with textile folks in the vast majority of cities around the world.
The rest of Jillian’s comment went on to acknowledge that as a minority, naturists do face discrimination, and that is why we write about it.
I believe that she is right. Outside of dedicated naturist communities, it is unlikely that naturists will ever be able to walk naturally down the street or engage with society generally without compromising our attitude toward clothing.
While that may be the case, does that mean that the idealists yearning for absolute freedom should lower their sights and aim for something more achievable? Surely if we aim high, even if we fall short, we may well end up with more than we currently have.
Society has the capacity to change. I accept that I am no spring chicken but I remember when smoking was common, it wasn’t really that long ago. Smoking was everywhere. In the workplace, public transport, cinemas, bars and restaurants and even aeroplanes. Of course, it wasn’t compulsory, there were non-smoking sections, but sitting on a bus where half the bus smokes really doesn’t provide the cleanest air for the non-smoking section. I am sure that many of you will remember waking up in the morning after having been out to a pub or club the night before and the smell of the clothes you were wearing. Public attitudes to smoking have changed remarkably.
Society has a range of acceptable attitudes and policies, referred to as being within the Overton window, (named after American policy analyst Joseph Overton). Politicians are unlikely to support or promote policies outside the Overton window, no matter their personal beliefs. The Overton window shifts over time as attitudes change, and it could be argued that yesterday's dreamers and idealists pushed the boundaries on many issues that we now take as normal.
It may come as a surprise but there was a time when it was unheard of for women to vote. Many at the time may have thought that women voting was the dream of idealists and dreamers yearning for democratic equality
There was a time when Public buildings were not required to have wheelchair access or accessible bathrooms for people with disabilities. Now commonplace, thanks to the persistent campaigning of dedicated people, not so much dreamers and idealists but many simply frustrated by the lack of accessibility that they encountered every day.
There was a time, not that long ago when same-sex couples could not marry. It wasn’t much before that when same-sex couples weren’t allowed at all. In some societies, they still aren’t. Again the dreams of idealists yearning for equality have allowed what was once unthinkable to many, to become commonplace and broadly accepted.
What kind of progress can we expect to make without the committed and often criticised efforts of the dreamers and idealists?
In some parts of society, we are starting to see the beginnings of a shift in attitude towards topless equality for women. The free the nipple campaign is rightfully gaining acceptance in many parts of the world, and while there is a significant way to go before society corrects the discrimination against women who choose to go topless, progress is being made.
The day may never come when we can choose what not to wear, and walk down the street naturally, but that should not stop people from arguing and campaigning for change.
By aiming for more than we think is possible, we might not exceed our expectations but are certain to get more than we currently have.
Surely aiming for total acceptance of the naked human form as inherently decent has to be the default position.
“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.