More and more people are feeling the deep need to do something to change the world. They recognize that there are many fundamental problems that need to be addressed. They also recognize that without adequate pressure, neither governments or corporations will change their patterns of behaviour.
If you are one of those individuals who have decided that you have to take a stand and make a difference in the world, but are not sure how to get started or how to be effective, I offer this primer on how to be an activist.
- Accept that you are powerful enough to affect change. You can affect family, community, nation and world by the choices you make, by your willingness to stand for something, through your actions. Read Choosing Empowerment.
- Detox yourself. If you are physically, emotional, mentally and spiritually muddled, then you can not be as effective as you need to become. Read Surviving a Toxic World.
- Vote with your wallet. Corporations and institutions rely upon income. That income invariably comes from people. If most people stopped buying a particular product, the company that markets it would stop manufacturing it. Boycotting is very effective. You may think that you choosing not to buy a particular product may not have much impact; but if you make that choice and tell others why you have made that choice, the effect can grow to a movement. Look how scared Israel is of the BDS movement. This is not a suggestion from me. I am only citing the example to demonstrate that boycotts cause tremors. Many people are waking up to the dangers of Genetically Modified foods and are choosing not to buy the. Take a look at the growing number of Organic and GMO free products now sold in supermarkets. Yes, boycotts work.
Your choice of charitable donations is also important. Before donating any money to any organizations, investigate. Many so-called charities do very little of anything except fundraise. Always look to see what percentage of the monies raised gets spent on administrative costs and fundraising costs. Give strategically to charities that align with your cause.
And, perhaps most importantly, you will be in alignment with your espoused cause. If you want to save the Indonesian rainforests but buy products that contain palm oil, then your integrity comes into question and your effectivity at an ethereal, moral and practical level is compromised. You really have no choice but to avoid those products.
- Pick your battles. You cannot get involved in every cause. You need to choose which is the most important. What are you passionate about? What seems like the most pressing issue to you, your community and the world? How can you contribute to that cause?
- Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the issue(s) you care about so that you can speak about (or write about) the issue so that other people will be convinced convinced of the validity of your argument. You need them to believe that you have thought through the issue and come to a moral and intelligent decision. If you know why an issue is important and know the facts about the issue, you can help convince others to take a stand.
- Connect with others. Community is stronger. Communicate. Use social media. Start a Facebook group. Create a blog. Comment on news stories or blogs. And remember this quote from Margaret Mead… “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- Be creative. What can you do that is different enough to bring media attention to your cause? What idea can you come up with that may go viral on social media and bring attention to your cause? Remember the ice bucket challenge? It went wildly viral.
- Do something. You have to act. What ever it is that you think need doing, do it. Don’t leave it to others. If everyone left it to others, nothing would ever get done. Yes. You. Can.
“Any effort on behalf of human or ecological justice and wisdom demands real courage rather than false optimism, and responsibility even in times of utter madness, even in times when decadence outpolls decency, even in times when responsibility itself is ridiculed as the behavior of the weak and naive.
“There is far more to this than personal action and personal witness. In fact, it is when we learn to share our witness with others — in politics, in music, in rebellion, in conversation, in love — that what starts as singular testimony can end in mass transformation. Here then is the real possibility: that we are building something important even if it remains invisible to us. And here then is the real story: even without the hope that such a thing is really happening there is nothing better for us to do than to act as if it is — or could be.
“Here is ultimately a philosophy of peace and even joy because we have thrown every inch and ounce of our being into what we are meant to be doing – which is to decide what we are meant to be doing. And then to walk cheerfully down the street, through our school, and over the face of the earth doing it.” ~ From Becoming And Being An Activist by Sam Smith
If you are serious about studying activism, I suggest you start by reading these two books…
Activism That Works
The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World without Losing Your Way