A Throwback: Truths About Activism

(First published in 2017, this post is just as timely today. )

This is our reality: Daily we are bombarded by loops of violence, threads of national chaos, and far too many hyperlinks to political debauchery. Millions are addicted to drugs, social media, and outright lies. Death sentences like poverty, racism, and inequality continue to plague people of color and the poor, while worthwhile solutions evade even the best experts.

Yet, through all of the mire, strength is emerging. Many have been forced out of denial and recognize that disconnection is leading to our destruction.  As such, countless of Team Me or Army of One advocates, or those suffering from unrequited love from political affiliations, have found themselves throwing in the white flag and opting for something greater.

A call to action has been sounded, in great part, for self and collective preservation. Serve or do or resist have become tunes that ring through our ears like the catchy hook of our favorite song. It all makes sense though, for the longing to live is natural despite the fact that death is inevitable.

This basic desire to do better – to have a part in cleaning up the rubbish and to rebuild some civil sanity – has led to an increase in activism. While many are snug in their roles and are earnestly and boldly doing their work, others are being planted and are just beginning to sprout. Then there are those who are trying to determine where they fit in and what they have to offer. Kudos to all!

But here are some truths about activism.

Activism is brutal and not for the faint-hearted. It’s a huge act of faith and war – a journey that requires steadfast commitment. You’re moved, so you strategically plan and act. However, one really never knows what the outcome will be, or which side the journey will leave you on. One minute, you’re negotiating and compromising, and at the next you may be adamantly refusing to do either. Hard decisions are made, people’s feelings get injured, numbers fall, and opposition occurs just as quickly as the hope that brought everyone together. Yet, just when you’re seconds away from throwing in the towel, everything comes together. It’s usually a win. Not an easy one, but one well worth it.

Yes, I speak from experience.

Activism is not something you bully someone into. It’s degrading to dictate what another should be doing or giving. No one is entitled to impose upon someone else’s skills, talents or resources even if those things will serve some greater good. And, nobody has earned the right to doom another for doing what may be perceived as nothing. Malcolm X summed it up perfectly: “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because one doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think, or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today. “

On the contrary, activism is an act of love with the goal being to serve with dignity, respect and courage. Lead by example. Encourage through perseverance. Exercise patience. Then, mentor.

Most important, activism is not a monolithic act.  It’s layered and nuanced. Some will be the face and voice. Others will dutifully soldier when called upon. Yet, many will sit on their sofas with coffee (or something a tad stronger), firm shoulders, a first aid kit, and wisdom, waiting patiently for you to limp through their unlocked doors, standing ready to stitch you up and infuse you with strength for whatever comes next.

All are important. All are necessary. All matter.

If you’re moved to action, do so strategically and avoid being coerced into a role or a cause that your heart doesn’t bleed for. Determine your space and commit to being faithful from there. Never be ashamed or afraid to say NO. If  you long to sit at a table you can’t get an invitation to, then build your own table to plant your feet under. But no matter what, when you get in there be ready to fight hard. Because here are the ultimate truths about activism: It’s bred from your soul. It’s brutal. But, it’s always worth it.

Nice writing to you again! I’ll be in touch soon.  

Truly yours,

Mo~

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