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.
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.
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.