My previous post inspired a few good laughs about what stepping up for a cause is about. “Activists”. Who are these odd people on the news being called some version of ‘Post-Modern Social Marxists” or some such non-existent epithet? Community (not Communist) activism is neither Marxist nor some mysterious hippy, trippy march into an abyss of prison sentences.
Practising compassion over comfort doesn’t require giving up our freedom and worldly goods in solidarity. Thus it really doesn’t need hard thought on whether or not we want to perform an act of decency. It does require us to take a few steps now and then out of our regular ruts – which incidentally, doesn’t hurt. It’s always been a pretty good idea to round out our little worlds for the sake of our own sanity and growth.
Yeah, nah, the average activist is not required to hang from a bridge, or from anything, actually. (Greenpeace TransMountain protest at the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, July 4, 2018)
Back to the point – if you’re someone who marched into your school Principal’s office to demand a particular activity or homeroom class for your child, you’ve graduated in Activism 101 right there. Same if you ever requested a pay raise or demanded your rightful discount while shopping.
If you’ve ever organized a play, a school fundraising event, a lunch or dinner, you know how to organize a group to paint up some signs and meet at the corners of wherever to make your case public for an hour. Let’s maybe call this – Activism 201. Still, we can see there’s really nothing untenable about this level either. There’s always the option of just following organizers in a march.
When you see stories or social media posts about an issue that you KNOW is based in inequity that rocks your decency barometer, do something before that evil little voice in the back of our mind starts its insidious claims that we’re too small, poor, uninformed or detached to make a difference anyway. It lies, and that’s what those who would take advantage of people are counting on. It’s not really apathy that they’re depending on, it’s our fear.
They make issues seem too big to be managed, on purpose. They make “the machine” look impenetrable, but just like the phony wizard of Oz, “the machine” is the same mousy wanna-dos hiding behind the drapes. They’re simply just another group of us – the same people we stood up to in schools, at work, or while shopping.
So, why am I telling you this? Because the steps we took in those situations are exactly what is required to move these mythical giant mountains of issue. These mountains are merely the piles of lies that say the inequities right in front of our eyes “take time” to undo or repair. We’re shown time and time again government is not too poor nor too big and that there are alternatives to almost every option leadership attempts to sell us.
The only thing that takes those mountains down is a push from those at the bottom – us. Our most simple efforts can get that hill all shaky and rolling in no time. A phone call, letters, emails, tweets, whatever form we’d take to demand our kid gets the homeroom we want, or the raise we know we deserve, is what we do.
These are the actions to take when a community or national issue makes us pause because we know it’s not right. We direct our requests to our local leaders (mayors, Chiefs, MP, MLAs) with a c.c. to their boss – especially if that’s the Prime Minister – and the media, to really drive the message home. It’s that simple. It’s that effective. It’s that easy to create a better circumstance for ourselves, a neighbor, a community, or the entire country for that matter.
Yes, we may have to repeat those actions a few times, but when we see those issues, something so unfair, that it makes us stop and our heartbeat catch, don’t waste that call to your soul. We’re hearing it because we’re more than worthy and capable of doing something about it. We do it because we prefer to live in decency and really, that is the core, the only point, of activism.
See? No mysterious forces at work here, it’s just me and you acting on our right to speak up. Welcome aboard!