This weeks post comes from the illustrious Peter Dybing. His own blog A Pagan in Paradise is an inspiration to Pagans across the planet.
Recent posts in the community have pointed out activism is home grown in nature. Those wishing to engage in activism must first find their voice in their own community and be able to “stand” their ground and call the community to self-reflection on how our own actions do or do not reflect our values. ‘Standing up’ and risking negative discourse, social consequences and sometimes-hurt feelings is at the very center of the activist archetype.
There comes a time when activists, after having attended a plethora of protests, writing letters galore and donating to many causes, realize it is time to sit down. This need arises from the realization that the many causes we support do not manifest their actions from spontaneous protests, letter writing and eloquent speeches, but from tactical planning, event coordination, coordinated effort and building alliances.
Ultimately, it is those who take a seat and engage in these less than high profile activities that are at the core of making a difference in the causes they support. Long nights are spent writing and re writing calls to action. Extensive conversations are held with allies in attempts to engage them in direct action. Planning around logistics including transportation, sanitation, permits and food takes considerable time. It is in these mundane efforts that causes make progress, attract attention and influence public discourse.
At the core of these activities are skills that set uncomfortably with activists. In order to achieve what we want it is necessary to negotiate, compromise, cede space to representatives of other causes and allow our vision to be refined in ways we never imagined. We as an activist community are long on the ability to shout from rooftops and sorely short on the ability to sit down, keep our own council and deeply listen to those who have different, yet complimentary visions.
The skills mentioned above are central to building effective actions in ways that far exceed showing up with a sign at a protest. The most critical of these skills is the ability to build a Web Of Mutual support within the progressive community. At the center of this skill is the acknowledgement that we are promoting a minority position and it is necessary to engage supporters of other progressive causes in order to affect real change.
Recently, this concept was on full display as organizations such as Greenpeace USA changed their internet profile to the HRC equity symbol while the Supreme Court heard arguments surrounding marriage inclusivity. In the case of Greenpeace, for example, this social media action suddenly was displayed up front and center before tens of thousands of progressives who believe environmental action is the top issue of our times. The leadership of many organizations made a tactical decision to suspend their own agenda, for a short time, in order to support a worthy cause in the community. Building mutual trust, good will and the possible engagement of the marriage equality community in future justice related actions of their organizations.
It falls upon activists of all stripes to engage tactical thinking, sit down and do the real work of activism and recognize that issues of justice, social, economic or environmental are interrelated. It is only by manifesting a Web Of Mutual Support through hard work that we have a chance of achieving the results that we imagine for our selves, our community and the world.
We must both stand up and be heard and sit down and do the real work of activism!