When people don’t get it is speaking out the best form of activism?

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Robin HIggins

There are those times when people don’t get it. Your work and colleagues don’t get it. Your family doesn’t get it. Complete strangers don’t get it, or should I say earth-mates sharing the same space, the Earth.

This blog post was inspired by a discussion with Steve from Blog Blogger Bloggest, on 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 have said things to people in anger. I eventually lost the temper. It transformed into empathy. That led me to understand why we do what we do and to find ways to help people understand the issues so that they take action.

On second thought, I do get angry when someone doesn’t let me do what I think is right. Once, when I was checking out at a grocery store, I took out my cloth bags to put all the stuff in it. 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 get mad when I say no to things which harm the environment, and someone doesn’t take it seriously. It is also frustrating that the systems we operate in do not make it easy for us to do the right thing.

I think I understand why I lost my anger. My thought was that being angry was anti-human and anti-system. But somewhere deep inside, this conversation made me feel if rage was the thing that 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 one 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!