I was watching one of my favourite talk shows recently and one of the guest speakers said something profound. I won’t get into the detail of his statement but the key thing he was trying to raise awareness about was that, collective societal transformation is more powerful and sustainable when we recognise that it starts as an internal individual journey.
I loved his rendition and felt he gave language to some thoughts that have been on my mind around activism.
I think we can agree to a certain extent that, the influence of social media platforms in our generation has created more leeway for people to be ‘activists’ in the comfort of their own homes. Whether this form of activism is effective or not, is still a question that needs answers.
I really love the following definition of what activism is- “Activism is quite simply taking action to effect social change; this can occur in a myriad of ways and in a variety of forms. Often it is concerned with ‘how to change the world’ through social, political, economic or environmental change. This can be led by individuals but is often done collectively through social movements” (http://www.permanentculturenow.com/what-is-activism/).
I think in the world there is a general sense that people really do want to see “change” and by this, I mean, people want good change that enhances their humanity and doesn’t violate their human rights. The one major concern is that, in bringing about this change in most cases, the focus is heavily external. E.g. people embark on these massive marches and run various social media campaigns to create awareness about a social ill with the ultimate end goal of bringing about change in that social ill.
Social media has made activism more profound also in that as we become more of a global village, we begin to stand for the same social causes regardless of where we are in the world. This has been translated in the form of social media campaigns such as #BlackLivesMatter; #PrayForParis; #BringBackOurGirls; #16 days of activism for no violence against women and children.
These social activism campaigns are good but I think wisdom keeps shouting at us that real change is an internal journey of multiple interventions happening over a consistent and long period of time. It’s not a one-time event but a deliberate continuous process.
I am aware of a few people who consistently post impressive and philosophical things on social media to a point where that’s all they do. They don’t embark on any social action about what they post.
My enjoy life tip is this- Yes, it’s good to be a member of some society transforming organisation, it’s good to be part of social media campaigns and raise all sort of awareness about various economic, political, social and work issues, but I also think it’s not only about what you say and post but what you DO!
A true activist is somebody that puts their zeal/passion into action. If you really want to redress an issue, in the spaces that you find yourself in, do something. But more importantly, let it start with you, don’t say one thing and live another. Lead by example and let activism first start in you and eventually it will pour externally- AMANDLA!