With so many serious problems in the world, you might be feeling like a passive, helpless spectator. But don’t underestimate the power of continued, small actions that can make big changes. If you have a cause that’s close to your heart, read on to find out how to inspire the activist within you, and spur change.
“Activism” doesn’t have to be a huge event. Nor does it have to be a picket and a protest. Sure, demonstrations send a strong message to legislators, but not every demonstration of activism has to be a protest the size of a women’s march.
Activism, in its smallest form, is caring enough about a problem to take action towards a solution. It’s about living a life that’s rooted in social justice, equity, self-awareness, and environmental awareness.
Quite simply, it can be bringing attention to situations that might otherwise go unnoticed. It could be doing research into something you’re passionate about, and then having a conversation.
Volunteering, engaging in thoughtful dialogues online, calling your local member during your lunch hour, discussing good causes over the dinner table – this all helps too. It’s called ‘sustained action’, and it’s the first step to being an activist.
Whichever form it takes, activism is your way to be the change.
There are a number of ways to wake your inner activist. You can:
Throughout history, music hasn’t just been a background presence. Music is a driver of real political change. From John Lennon’s, “Imagine” to Sam Cooke’s, “A Change is Gonna Come”, music has long been used as a tool to highlight social injustice and to ignite community activism.
Music is perhaps the most powerful external influence that shapes who you are, how you think, how you feel, and who you become. Music communicates emotion, therefore you are what you listen to. It’s the soundtrack of your life and helps you determine the choices you make and the logic behind them. Create an activist playlist with songs like Madame Gandhi’s “The Future is Female”, Miguel’s “Now” and Yothu Yindi’s “Tribal Voice” and find yourself thinking more thoughtfully about the lyrics of life.
Sometimes we need to be shocked into action. There are things that we can’t unsee and certain videos that will change the way you think forever.
A quick search on Google or YouTube and you’ll be met with a plethora of undercover videos depicting the harsh realities of farmed animals. These videos share the truth and create an honest and open dialogue about how our animals make it from farm to fridge. Some videos can be overwhelming, so prepare yourself. Other videos to watch include the United Nation’s Plastic Ocean and River Blue, which tells the story of how fast fashion is killing the world’s river systems.
When you read a book, you feed your brain with the knowledge to refine your thoughts and activities. The more you read, the more clarified life becomes.
Reading widens your mental horizons. It allows you to explore the world and discover new places, individuals, customs, traditions, and laws. Choose your books wisely and the inspiration you’ll garner from the words will shape you forever.
We suggest starting with The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, a book about courage, bravery, and perspective. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but a great read. Another good place to start is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, who fought against the Taliban for her right to an education.
If reading isn’t your thing, try listening to a podcast with a purpose. There are a ton of awesome podcasts that put the revolution between your ears, sharing stories upon stories of generation change. From The Humanist Hour to The Peace Revolution to Deutsche Welle’s Pulse series, there’s lots to inspire you.
Staying on top of the news means staying on top of the world’s leading problems. You can’t fight for justice if you bury your head in the sand.
Staying updated provides you with educational value. It opens your mind to new things and ideas. It gives you more topics to talk about and helps you form opinions to think more critically.
We live in the age of virality, where some of the most powerful social movements of the 21st century – think the Arab Spring uprisings, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo – sprawled to all corners of the earth at speed through the power of social media. Platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram have revolutionised activism, and allow us to connect with like-minded people in ways we’ve never been able to before. If there’s a cause you care about, there’s likely a whole community of people out there advocating for the same thing through social media. Strive to connect with them and rise up together.
It’s likely that the bank you use and the super fund you invest your retirement money in, both have ties with unethical industries that may go against your beliefs. Animal cruelty, fossil fuels, tobacco and nuclear armaments are just a handful of the harmful things your financial institutions could be funding. If these industries form part of what you are advocating to change, consider switching to an ethical bank or an ethical super fund like Cruelty Free Super, and invest your money in things you believe in.
Think carefully about how things are made, from food and cotton clothing to fertilisers, ethanol and so-called “environmentally friendly” products. If it’s not clear, do some research before you buy. In other words, stop for a moment before every purchase and consider, “does this align with my beliefs and goals”?
It’s important to remember that activism can’t be the voice of one person. Different perspectives create more authentic messages and movements, so make sure you invite others to the table.
Share your songs, books, podcasts, research, and stories. Invite friends to your next rally, information night, or forum. Speak with empathy to attract connections and surround yourself with people who share your views. Support each other to be the change.
The bottom line is that waking your inner activist is waking your ability to act. It’s important to remember that activism doesn’t require an all-or-nothing approach. Small, simple changes can collectively lead to huge impact. If you’re interested in cruelty-free living, you could start by bringing some awareness to your own lifestyle, by mindfully considering what you eat, where you shop, and how you invest.
You don’t have to completely know the ins and outs of an issue to speak up about what you deem important, or what you think requires change. If you care about an issue, strive to learn and better understand it, and encourage change and progress where you can.
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