There are times when people don’t get it. Your colleagues don’t get it. Your family doesn’t get it. Complete strangers who share the same Earth with you don’t get it. Makes you angry, does it?
This blog post was inspired by a discussion with Steve from Blog Blogger Bloggest, about my previous post ‘Arrogant or hopeful?’. He expressed how angry he is about how environmentalists caused a massive increase in the amounts of CO2 by blocking the deployment of nuclear power for the past forty years, angry on people who throw away their plastic on beaches, along roadsides and in the countryside – which is how most of the plastic that ends up in the ocean gets there.
I feel him. I’ve been angry and I have said things to people. Eventually, my temper transformed into empathy. This led me to understand why we do what we do and to find ways to help people understand the issues that lead to our frustrations.
Let me tell you a short story. One day, in a grocery store, I carried some cloth bags. It was my first time using cloth bags in a self-checkout lane. It was really confusing for me and apparently also for the machine detecting the bags and the products. I was OK with the confusion because that was my first time. However, there was someone with me who got mad at me for fussing over plastic bags. I got mad because someone did not take my efforts seriously. I was mad because I would have appreciated the patience. It is also frustrating that the systems we operate do not make it easy for us to do the right thing.
I think I understand why I lost my ability to get angry. Not that I’ve lost it completely but it has subdued. Angry seems anti-human and anti-system to me now. But somewhere deep inside, this conversation made me realize that perhaps the rage made me into who I am today. This is not to justify that I want it back. You don’t necessarily have to go back to the old ways. You can, however, measure the impact of the methods you adopt. I can measure the effect my anger has had, by looking at the people I got angry at in the past. Have they changed? How much have they changed? Has my relationship with them changed? Some have changed, some haven’t. I can’t measure that for strangers, but I can only hope that my expression has added to the momentum.
I’ve come to learn that there is no single form of activism. There are in fact many! You can influence people in so many ways and not just by being angry on them. Volunteer, sign a petition, boycott products, invest ethically, be an active part of the system that needs change. Create a hashtag or something. Create your own way. Use existing tools or create new ones. Make them see.
When I do speak out now, I speak out in various ways. It doesn’t have to be one way. It doesn’t have to be my way or someone’s else’s. It may not be the right way, so it helps to look back at the ways you adopt and measure the impact they have had. Do you need to change? How much has it changed you?
I’d also read: 12 different types of activism
I love to hear from my readers, and I thank Steve for joining the discussion. He writes awesome thought-provoking articles. That’s how we learn from each other. Join the conversation!