When you think of activists do you think of a big group of people with signs and posters rallying angrily for or against a cause? Do you picture a march or a strike of people demanding change?
Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis. An activist is defined as a person who campaigns for some kind of social change.
There has been two significant times in my life that I have questioned activism, which have sparked the interest to write this post.
The 2nd time was the most recent and I was declining an invitation to go to the Shark Reef because I feel I cannot support animals in captivity and joked about only going if I could bring a sign and boycott outside. That comment made my boyfriend slightly defensive and he told me I wasn’t an activist. I understand his logic because I am typically not the type of person who would boycott in that manner (while there is nothing wrong with it, its just not how I typically express myself.) That comment made me think about the 1st time I was questioned about being an activist. I was going to attend a vegan roundtable talk on health conspiracy radio and the host asked about our thoughts on activism and what type of activism we participated in. My initial reaction was to say, “I haven’t participated in any activism related activities, I don’t really consider myself an activist…” but as soon as I said that, a thought occurred. Wait a minute; activism is not just about boycotting, petitioning, protesting or any of those activities that I had pictured when I thought of activists. Activist demonstrate their concern and choose to demonstrate what they are fighting for in some of those manners but if we have a belief and we are sharing those thoughts, ideas and spreading any message with the intent of influencing change, then we are ALL activists. Some actions can be more conscious then others, for example this blog promotes healthy living, cruelty free and an eco-friendly lifestyle and I am deliberately advocating these beliefs and ideas to you guys. I can also be more unconscious about it and purchase a shirt without reading the label or finding out where it was sourced and unintentionally advocate for child labor in China. Whoa whoa Jenn, calm down, so you are saying I am advocating for child labor if I do not first check to see where all my clothes is sourced from? In a sense yes, it may sound a bit harsh and of course it would probably take us a lot of time to figure out the impact of every single tiny choice and decision we make and its probably not plausible to live a life to that extent but its really about just trying to be the best that we can. When we are conscious about the choices we are making, the individual choices that we make eventually do create social change. I love the quote by Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
My point is that all the choices we make are advocating for one thing or another, hence we are all activists whether we know it or not. I intentionally advocate for a vegan lifestyle and hope to influence or inspire others to make vegan choices. I am also sure that I’m unintentionally advocating for some things that I might not even agree with but I try my best each day and until I know better and have the means to do better, then I do. That is my hope with all of those who hear or learn more about the vegan lifestyle regardless of whether it was the activist who is boycotting outside a slaughterhouse, the documentary Forks Over Knives or a blog post about eating more vegetables that you saw, that when you know better you make one small conscious step to do better.
Enjoy the Journey,