Image Credits: Bryan Woolston / Reuters
Activism has become increasingly popular, especially among millennials, as a result of this past election year. While it’s great to see so many people taking action for causes they care about, real change doesn’t just come from protests, a growing form of “activism.” It’s true that signing a petition is not likely to start the revolution you may be looking for, but protest marches don’t always get the job done either. Often times, the vital change you’re working for comes as a result of using a variation of the many forms of peaceful activism.
So what does an activist look like? An activist is a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change. The right to peaceful assembly is crucial to the foundation of this country and is a right that should be taken seriously and respected. That being said, the majority of protesting has evolved into an opportunity to do nothing more than a way to obtain media hits on the news. Successful activism needs to do more than just make noise about the issue at hand. Activism must branch out and make noise, gain a supportive following, and ultimately, make a difference. Door-to-door canvassing, contacting a senator’s office directly, creating clubs and organizations in your town, and expanding pre-existing organizations by starting or joining a chapter on your campus are all ways in which you can become an activist for a cause that you care about. This will allow you to make your voice heard in an optimized way rather than just from only protests and boycotts.
Being an activist means that you have found a cause that you care about. You have chosen to actively make a change for the better, relating to that cause. A few ways to go about initiating social change are to start by determining which communities and people are in need, looking into pre-existing efforts and how you can join or improve them, educating yourself on issues relating to the cause, using your voice on social media and in your community, and involving your friends and family to build power in the voice behind what you stand for.
The nature of activism relies very heavily on the cause and course of action taken. Because of this, it’s important to touch on every aspect of activism and seek to find as much legitimacy from the largest group of people that you can in order to make the biggest impact as possible. Successful activism is eventually achieved by gaining support. If only a few accept the changes and the majority oppose it, it will eventually disappear and people will revert back to old values and customs. Growing support for a cause is necessary in order for the changes being sought after to become the new social norms. Seeking change shouldn’t be a short-term goal, it should be something you and those around you want to see implemented and working in every part of the community day in and day out. All of that is rooted in the way activism is initiated and carried out from the very start, and that goes far beyond just a protest.