“What we do is more important than what we say, or what we say we believe” – Bell Hooks
In the age of social media, it is quite easy to find someone saying something about what they believe. Everyone is an activist of their own cause. As encouraging as it is to see so many passionate people on social media, the question is if that same passion is in their personal lives? It is so easy to repost a #BlackLivesMatter post or say you align with a particular thought, but when we see our communities hurting right before our eyes, how quick are we to speak. Better yet, how quick are we to act?
Think of a social cause that you deeply care about. Next, think about the last time you made or shared a post on social media about this cause. Could’ve been in the last week, or even in the last day or so. Now, think of the last time you have contributed to this cause in your own personal life. Could be a conversation with a friend, standing up for a colleague at work, donating, volunteering your time, etc. If you find yourself struggling to remember, then perhaps it is time to put down your phone and look up into the world around you. Please do not get me wrong, there is an undeniable importance of social media in our society. However, that should not be where your activism stops. There are people in your family, social circles, workplace, place of worship, etc that are either aching from the chaos they see and experience in their daily lives, or who have fallen asleep to the needs of their neighbors that need to be woken up. You have the power to do that.
Standing up for an issue does not have to be as big as we make it, and you do not have to have a certain amount of money or fame to make an impact. All you have to do is do something. Our lives have to be more than pictures and tweets. We have to begin to see the ways we play significant roles in the betterment of others. If you have trouble seeing those moments, say a little prayer at the beginning of your day: “Lord, help me see the areas where I can be a better brother or sister to those that are hurting around me”. You can even set an intention for yourself to accelerate the work being done in areas of suffering.
I understand that being an activist in your own life can be difficult and uncomfortable, but that does not mean it is a hopeless feat. I guarantee you there are little pockets in your day where you can speak, pray, write a letter, donate, reflect and remember, read a book, listen to a podcast, encourage, uplift, empower, and so much more.
Perhaps you aren’t sure where to start. Well, let me help you out. Under this paragraph you can find a list of ways to forward the efforts in various human rights issues in your own community and in the nation. I encourage you to take a look and take action. As Bell Hooks so simply but effectively said, what you do is what will be remembered and what will be felt by those around you. Not what you say. So the choice is yours. How will you take your activism into your own hands to make an impact in your community?
- Educate yourself – there are various books, movies, podcasts, and more that hold so much information to further your knowledge in various social justice efforts. Instead of asking others about their experiences, first try learning for yourself.
- Speak up – when you see something, say something! If you do nothing, that is not a passive choice. You are on the side of the abuser. It takes courage, but it is so important to make those that are being hurt feel seen and valued by your willingness to stand up for them.
- Volunteer – there are several non-profits in your community that are working hard to create long-lasting change. They could always use extra hands! Getting involved locally gives you the unique chance to get connected to those with similar or quite different from you, but whose hearts ache for the same things yours does.
- Contact Your Local Officials – while it may seem pretty intimidating, this is actually one of your most powerful tools as a citizen in your community! Your voice matters, and the leaders in your community need to be aware of the issues plaguing your town so they can begin to make decisions to better those things! https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
- Donate – every cause is always in need of resources to continue the work that they do. Feel free to donate to charities, organizations, groups, etc. to encourage and empower them.
- Support – the importance of supporting your local minority businesses, artists, etc should go without saying. Make your money count as a consumer, and make your presence count as a resident of your community.