About Activism

Activism. The word conjures up many ideas and images. It is loaded with force and power and can excite a variety of responses from those who try to define what the word activism means to them. The word itself implies being active, making choices rather than remaining indecisive and uncommitted. Activism is a path of possibility. In order to live more conscious lives we must first become informed about the world around us and choose to become invested in its wellbeing. This may sound very idealistic and complex but, to become an activist one simply has to choose to become active and involved; you simply choose to care.

The Process of Activism

Education

Learning is an ongoing process. We are discovering more about our world and each other every day. At no point do we stop learning, but we may choose to remain ignorant or “blind” to information that conflicts with our own perspectives and opinions. When a person chooses to invest in their personal education they remove the “blinders” that separate them from “the World”. This doesn’t mean that you must give up everything you believe and hold dear as the “Truth”. It does mean that you must be willing to consider other viewpoints and experiences that are different from your own. Education helps to increase awareness, not limit it.

Engage in Discussion

Activists are often depicted as red faced, screaming, picket-sign waiving people who wish to make their point known at all costs. When a group feels that they have been given no voice it is important that they be allowed to express their points freely without fear of persecution. Obviously the best way to achieve this is through discussion. Discussion is a dialogue and an exchange of ideas. Good discussions take into account all possible sides of a given topic. Discussion is facilitated by the ability to voice specific statements, cite research and evidence to support your statements, and provide a suggested means of resolution to a perceived conflict. By listening critically but non-judgmentally to others’ ideas you may be able to come to an agreement or at least a fresh understanding of each other’s perspective.

Debate

Debate is a discussion taken to a more challenging arena of expertise. In order to debate a topic, a person must become well informed with accurate information to support their viewpoint. In a debate we most often have opposing sides stating their case before an audience of invested listeners. It is important to be articulate, succinct and direct. A good debate should be intelligent and thought provoking. It should never become an attack on the other party or slanderous.

Steps to Achieving Activism

Personal Responsibility

In order to create change in the world you must acknowledge a personal need for change within your own life. It is very easy to feel powerless and become apathetic. By committing to “living consciously” you create powerful change in your own life. Living consciously means that you make decisions based on personal experience and education with a concern for balance, health and wellbeing of yourself and others. Taking the time to read a few books and see a couple of films under the “Resources for Conscious Living” listing in this section will help get you started.

Social Responsibility

Awareness moves in circles. Once you start to take control of your own life by solving problems and by engaging in conscious living, you start to become more aware of the global community. You begin to see the impact of what you buy, eat and use upon the environment and your community. You may become more aware of the words you speak and the effect they have on others. You may also more clearly see the injustice of humanity upon the environment and upon each other. When a group becomes “demonized” or “trivialized” by another group there is an imbalance. To choose to speak up and add your insights to the dialogue is to invest in social responsibility and therefore help restore balance.

Organized Effort

As you become aware of the myriad problems in the world you may begin to feel overwhelmed. There are many organizations that exist to help restore the world to a more caring and healthy place for all. What is exciting is that these organizations would love to have your help in whatever way you care to share it with them. The gift of your help is a beautiful way of giving back the kindness and help that has been given to you. It is an energy exchange and restores balance to the cycle of life. Read about National organizations and efforts listed in the Activism, Outreach, and Resources section of this website (local groups and activities will be listed under these sections at individual Temple websites) and begin to get a feel of where you’d be interested in becoming involved.

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