A colour photo by Liam Edwards via Unsplash of a street march/protest with one participant holding a sign with the word, ‘Enough’ written in large black letters.
Advocacy & News, Social Justice

Activism: Different Ways To Take Meaningful Action

Taking action for a cause you are passionate about is one of the cornerstones of social progress. We possess a whole history to look upon, with many powerful changemakers before us, proving that forging social justice and equity takes collective work.

Movements are frequently established because one voice spoke up, boldly highlighting an issue, policy or system that requires dismantling; bringing necessitated change into the consciousness of a society often at odds with itself. Progress is painful, it holds up a mirror to the things many of us ignore or fail to reconcile with. When we begin to unlearn this way of thinking, inaction no longer remains an option. Passivity towards other people’s suffering because it preserves some kind of comfort or personally beneficial status quo isn’t a harmless choice — we can all do better.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. | Elie Wiesel

Supporting political, social, economic and environmental advancement; that initiates effective systemic change, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Tackling injustice and prejudice, corruption and inequality or working towards policy change and accountability, for example is something we should all be involved with.

Background image is a street march/protest; photo by Liam Edwards via Unsplash. Foreground text reads, Activism: Different Ways To Take Meaningful Action (a blog post on Transatlantic Notes).

Here’s a reminder about some of the most effective ways you can take meaningful action

Voting | Consistently vote for the people, policies, programs and social shifts that you want to see on a local, state or countrywide level; making sure you are well-informed about the issues you’re championing. 

Community Building | Get involved with initiatives, charities and organisations that support the varied needs of your local area; you can contribute your time, gift funds or attend/share events, etc.

Petitions | Sign and share petitions for the issues you feel strongly about (or create your own). They take very little time to complete, can easily generate interest and they’re a valuable tool for getting information out to many people.

Donations | Funding is always needed when fighting for societal progress. If you can make a financial contribution to activist groups and organizations; it will facilitate things like supervising programs, coordinating/traveling to demonstrations, designing media campaigns and educating more people about what they’re trying to achieve. No amount of money is insignificant; every bit of help is welcomed.

Raising Awareness | Utilize your social media to share any campaigns or activism accounts that you’re supporting. This can additionally include taking some time; if safe and reasonable to do so, to talk to those around you about the issues you’re concerned with. 

A black and white photo by Corey Young via Unsplash of a street march/protest with one participant holding up a sign saying, “Whatever You’re Not Changing, You Are Choosing”.
photo via Corey Young

Boycotting | Every so often the best way to get brands, corporations, banks or organizations to cease harmful practices is to stop purchasing or using their products/services. You can maintain an individual stance, but to fully impact their bottom line (and potentially initiate change) it needs to come from collective effort. Join information drives online and help empower a community of action. 

Public Demonstrations | Protests, marches and rallies represent an unmistakable signal to those in positions of power; that transforming social structures beset with inequality, injustice and misconduct can no longer remain untouched by bold reform. They provide an opportunity to mobilize en masse (even globally); revolutionizing how we grow as a more equitable society.

Organized events like these are usually peaceful (and legal, if permits and permissions are given). If you’re interested in attending, you can typically acquire information about how, when and where a protest is happening through social media or local activist groups.

Frontline Direct Action | This type of activism is not for everyone but when there’s a heightened level of urgency; particularly for the people directly impacted by something that requires an immediate response and robust change, there is often no other choice except direct action. Whether it’s blockades, sit-ins, lock-ins, strikes, occupations or other frontline forms of protest, it comes with the risk of arrest, police violence, surveillance, smear campaigns and disruption to livelihoods. Unlike public demonstrations that are (usually) organized for a specific amount of time, this style of disruption is long and ongoing; until the fight is won or overpowered by the government/law enforcement. 

If you can’t be on the ground in this way, you can still offer your support by utilizing all of the other forms of activism listed in this article.

Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible. | Angela Davis

Engaging with challenging and complex political, social or environmental issues isn’t always easy or comfortable. Don’t be fooled into believing that progress, often slow or seemingly out of reach, is something that doesn’t require your input. Apathy falls neatly into the hands of those who want to stand in the way of a cognizant, transformative society. Even the smallest action can have a ripple effect; find what works for you and get involved.  


Further Info:

Know Your Rights: Protester’s Rights – ACLU

25 Inspiring Indigenous American Activist Accounts To Follow – Parade

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45 thoughts on “Activism: Different Ways To Take Meaningful Action”

  1. This was a thought provoking post! When I was younger I used to protest a lot out at the streets. Nowadays, I don’t do so although I can identify enough reasons I should. I do continue signing petitions for things that matter. However, I think that active participation in protests is the best way to stand up for your beliefs.

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    1. I think marches and protests are particularly effective too; they’re great at getting word out, showing how serious the issue is and getting a lot of media attention about the issue. All of which puts pressure on governments and those in power to do something. Any support in any way is better than nothing so keep doing what you can! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such an important post! I love how you provided several options for activism that does not involve being front and center in a public demonstration. There are many people who do not feel comfortable participating in something so public. However, it is equally important for people to understand that no gesture is too small! Just don’t idly sit by. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Exactly — you said it perfectly, no support is too small. It’s important people do whatever they are able to do and do it well. There are many ways to be a part of change and I hope those reading feel like there is something they can take action on.

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  3. Great post, there is things we can do, I get frustrated when people say “nothing will change”, maybe not but they definitely won’t change while you do nothing and don’t at least try e make your voice heard.

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  4. Great post. It’s always good to stand up for what you believe and take action against what’s wrong but not everyone feels comfortable with things like protests, so it’s good to know there are so many other ways that people can get involved. I sign a lot of petitions and donate x

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  5. Thanks for reminding those of us who shy away from conflict and direct protests that there are other worthwhile ways to bring change. I ended up serving on our local library board which opened my eyes to all the important ways libraries serve the public

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  6. Community building is one of the best ways to get involved with the people you are constantly interacting with! It is great to be able to put names to the faces and stand on common ground when it comes to the bigger issues. And, even if not everyone sees eye-to-eye on an issue, getting involved in different levels of the community opens up whole new perspectives! 🙂

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  7. Wonderful suggestions and all very helpful for me. I advocate and am an ambassador for the eating disorder awareness team NI. We’re struggling to get any traction so these have given me some ideas!

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  8. Your topics are always the mature and serious ones. Great insights. And this was a thought provoking one. I think these are necessary because only then can you change the fate of something, even change the course of history. It is needed. And thanks for such a wonderful post and writing you wrote.
    Isa A. Blogger

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  9. Posting on social media is a great way to raise awareness. I remember when I first got a Twitter account and I saw a post online about penguins. I remember clicking on the link and learning about the organization. Great tips.

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  10. Thank you for sharing such an important post. Our actions do make a difference. Whether it’s voting, signing petitions, donating, or engaging, we are amplifying the cause. I love the quote you’ve shared by Angela Davis, it’s spot on!

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  11. Great post Molly. I went on lots of marches and protests when I was younger. Save the Whales, trying to stop a bypass going through woodland etc. I became vegetarian because of farming practices when I was 18 (I am 62 now). I have always boycotted various companies and products. While some come off the list because they ‘see the light’ others have been on the naughty list for years. There are lots of ways to make a difference many of them you have listed eloquently. Other ways too. I have an ethical pension for example. There are so many things that need changing for the better – apathy is not an option!

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    1. It’s so great you have been so involved and I thank you for all that you’ve done. I haven’t been on a protest march for a while (the last one I did was in Detroit for the No DAPL movement and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe). I also make many everyday choices based on what a company stands for/against and their ethical practices — I think so many more people are seeing how this is a really great way to bring about change. Apathy is definitely not an option and it’s good to see more and more people realize this.

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  12. This is such a great post & thank you for sharing the different ways we can take action!
    I want to vote in Denmark, but I haven’t lived here long enough. Luckily there are still other things I can do to share my voice!

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  13. I 100% agree that voting is one of the best ways to take action. You can’t have an opinion if you don’t vote on matters in order to hopefully initiate change.

    This was such a great read and very relevant for today.

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    1. It would be worthwhile to have far more people out voting than is currently the case. Everyone who can should exercise their right and help mobilize/raise awareness of the issues they are concerned about. Thank you so much for reading!

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  14. Great post. It’s frustrating when people complain about things they’re not willing to do anything about.
    It’s great to see the many different ways you can take action & stand up for what you believe in.

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    1. Exactly — when I hear someone complain but who actively and regularly refuses to take any action then they really aren’t impacted by anything; they are afforded the privilege of being able to be apathetic. Thank you for taking the time to read!

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  15. I think it’s important to step up for what you believe in but I don’t like when professional protesters also step in only to create violence. I see this more and more lately. Thanks for sharing how to do this more positively.

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    1. If someone is an agitator then they aren’t protesting, their reason for being there isn’t about the issue being addressed but to cause division and distrust — which then works to make people believe that protesting is a form of violence in and of itself. It’s sad that there are people who will deliberately try to derail genuine civic engagement. The good thing is there are so many other ways to have our voices heard and I hope this post helps with that. Thank you so much for reading!

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  16. yes, I agree. We must raise our voice for the causes we deeply believe in, everybody is different, poets express themselves by poetry, writers by articles & it works if it has some depth. Then they join hands for a common cause…
    However, I remain curious, ultimately what happens to the petitions, which people sign up?

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    1. While what happens to petitions depends on what the original organizers intended; some can be used to get an issue debated at a government level (depending on the country/numbers reached); others are a great way to let law-makers know what the public thinks/wants (potentially informing policy change); they’re also great ways to raise money or awareness (like getting the media to cover a story because they realize there’s a public interest). Petitions can even build momentum for a movement, etc. As for individual petitions, there is usually an explainer about what will happen when they reach their goal so always check that out as it’s great to know what next steps will be taken. Great question!

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  17. This is a really thought provoking post, it is great you are using your platform to share posts like this. Everyone’s voice is powerful and we should all use it for positivity and goodness! Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

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  18. Such an amazing and important post. There are so many ways to spread your message. I think people need to use a few different techniques that are not protests. Thank you for sharing your post, it is definitely something to think about whenever I am to spread my message.

    Like

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