“But, one person can’t change much…”
A sentence I hear murmured far too often; a sentence that holds little weight in the grand scheme of things. Your everyday actions may not seem like much, it may not feel like you’re doing a lot to change the world, but things aren’t always as they seem. Think of a raindrop: small and fragile in its individuality, but ever so powerful in the force of a current, or among the wave of thousands of others like it. That is your action.
The first action in finding your place in activism is inspiration. Once you have found an igniting spark to take action and realize your passion for working to make the world a better place, you’re already unstoppable. This can come in the spark of joy when you help others, maybe you find an ignition of wonder and curiosity when you find new information of what you can do to help the world and the living beings inhabiting it. Possibly, this inspiration will come through you in a completely different emotion: maybe it’s fear, sorrow, anger, or confusion. Maybe you’re worried and hurt by the pain and suffering this planet goes through, maybe you’re angered by the injustice and inequities occurring on a daily basis. Whatever it may be, hold onto that spark. Hold onto that immensely powerful emotion, and remember why you started; remember why you wanted to spark a change.
The second action in finding your place in activism is to immerse yourself in knowledge, whatever the subject area may be. In my experience, the more you know and the more you seek to find, the better off you’ll be. Dig deeper through the knowledge that makes you uncomfortable, the knowledge you were inadvertently avoiding. Dig through the bias, the surface, and the limits that have been set upon you. Sift through every detail you thought you knew, everything you’re taught about world issues, social issues, humanitarian issues, and find what you haven’t been told. Face your privilege if you’re given it, face the fear and confusion of awareness and a sea of new knowledge
The third action in becoming an activist is to reach out. Find local volunteer organizations and ask if they need any help, find community projects and local activist groups, reach out to other local activists and spend some time having a conversation with them about their activism. Some of the best ways to help bring awareness and activism to important social, civil, humanitarian, environmental, and many more issues of your choice, may reside within your local community. If not, reach out to some fellow passionate aspiring activists or local activists that you know of and ask if they’d want to start an activist group! It sounds like a very big mission, but when a mind determined, nothing will stop it. If you’re passionate, ready and willing to make a change, and advocating for justice, no action is too small or too large to help. Reaching out to state representatives and governors/mayors is a great option as well. Although a face-to-face chat or phone call are the most effective, advocating for social, humanitarian, civil, and environmental justice can be impactful in a thoughtful and fact-checked email, especially if many others are doing the same. No determined action is too small.
The fourth action to take when becoming an activist is to simply take action. Though seemingly overwhelming, as I stated before, no action is too small. Remember the passion that had sparked your willingness to learn and advocate for others who may not have that same ability, and roll with that. That is what will keep you moving forward. An action can be as small as donating to or becoming a member of a local, national, or even international organization that works to better the lives of others. Though some organizations who ask for money aren’t extremely transparent with what they do with their donations, I would urge you to make sure you truly support them before taking an action such as this. Furthermore, don’t hesitate to contact already established organizations, non-profit groups, and known activists in your area. This can be overwhelming at times as well, but I’m sure most would be happy to answer some of your questions. There are usually many local groups looking for volunteers, helpers, or may even have room for another volunteer position, all you need to do is reach out.
As a larger task, hold a rally or peaceful protest; use your personal talents to bring awareness and attention to the cause. Create protest art, write about it, sing, dance, whatever it may be, get it out there. Hold a meeting within your community, discussing the importance of the issue and answering any questions within the group, as well as listening to other perspectives and opinions. Promote awareness, and use your social media and other platforms to spread knowledge and awareness about issues that need to be brought to light. Create a group or organization within your community, doing so by asking other experienced activists and organizers for pointers or by researching said organization tactics. There are so much opportunity out there, all you need to do is look.
At this point in time, the importance of knowing about social justice, social issues, civil rights issues, humanitarian issues, economic issues, environmental issues, and every other important topic under the umbrella is at its peak. Having knowledge and understanding with empathy is important; the power of these issues on others’ lives is an indescribable strength. Action will not be taken if we sit and wait for others to take it; action will not be taken if we are not as outraged as the directly affected. We have to keep going.