Some Healthy Tips for Productive Activism

While many of the readers for this site are probably very passionate about the issues we present, there may be some that don’t have concrete strategies or a solid foundation on just how to properly organize. As a long time activist and the descendant of a hard-core anarchist, I’d like to offer some advice for those just getting started, or even for veterans who need a little reminder of what to do and why we fight.

Apathy isn’t Real

Have you ever looked at your group of friends, even those who are politically active, and despair at their apparent lack of effort? Sometimes, no matter how down you are for the cause, you just can’t seem to find others that are as gung-ho as you are. When apathy rears it’s ugly head, try and look at it differently, and understand what it really is.

  • No one seems to care: People care. Really they do. However, often times they don’t feel close enough with organizers to really connect and share with them, and thus cannot offer support. Get to know people where you work, live, go to school. Form those connections and really get to know people so you can make those suggestions that lead to activism.
  • How does any of this help?: In activism there are always two fights. The struggle against the oppressors, and the struggle against hopelessness. That feeling that nothing you do will ever truly accomplish anything. This simply isn’t true. Every little bit helps. Realize this, and help others realize that too. Support groups and social gatherings help with this quite a bit. Don’t always think of how far you have to go, or what you’re up against, think of all that we as activists and you personally have achieved.
  • Nobody wants to join the fight: Believe it or not, not every one is a Cesar Chavez. Some people are just too bored, scared, or busy to take the first step. However, many people will respond if they are given a little push. You have to be that push. Simple things like surveys, a lunch, or a general meeting can be a great way to pose the questions that lead to real action.
  • People don’t show up: If you’re having trouble getting the members you have to show up to meetings or rallies, think about how exactly you’re trying to get their attention. If it’s just a general announcement, people are probably going to overlook it. But if you ask them in person, or over a phone/video call, there is a deeper connection, and they will be more likely to regularly attend more often.
  • “I don’t see what the problem is”: If you happen to meet people who don’t seem to care about activism for the simple fact that they don’t feel it’s needed, don’t get upset; be happy. The end goal for all activists is to one day no longer need activism! We are a long way away, but there has been so much progress over the ages that we can’t lose hope now. So when you see that person who seems completely content with the world, see it as a reminder of the great grand overarching goal. If you like, you can try to convince them of their error and recruit them too, or you can just move on, and let them be at least one more soul living peacefully.

Make it Fun

You will never hear someone walking down the street reciting the entire Bill of Rights to themselves, and if you do, run. What you will hear is a catchy toon, like those of School House Rock, that is both fun and educational. This is our target. Be creative! Write poetry, songs, jingles, stories. Paint, draw, sculpt, carve. Do something that will really stick in people hearts and minds. Yes a good speech can sway millions of people, but the chances of being able to give that speech to millions isn’t everyday. Do something that you can show to a few people and have it stay in their head all day. Get them thinking new ideas, feeling new ideas. That is how you bring the big crowds together.

Use this. . .and more!

Hopefully this has been helpful to those new and old. Much of this information comes from not only my own experience, but some wonderful books that have been written on the subject. The main book for this piece was “A Troublemaker’s Handbook 2:  How to Fight Back Where You Work and Win!” I highly recommend this and any other books in the series.

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