Disclaimer: This post refers more specifically to day-to-day Environmental activism. No one should tell someone suffering from injustice how they should/should not protest. I am aware of the privilege I have in being a peaceful activist on the daily, but I am always prepared to show up when it’s needed.
Activism is often depicted as a bunch of people yelling, preaching and lecturing about their beliefs to every person they encounter in the street… The everyday person hears the word ‘activist’ and instantly lets out a grunt of frustration.
I was once that person too. I used to think that a lot of Vegan’s were annoying and that those who were scolding others with their beliefs were better off just keeping their mouths shut.
Harsh… I know!
But as I began to be a bit more open-minded, all it took was a change in my perspective to realize that maybe these people were actually standing up for issues that were very important to them… Maybe their points were totally valid. And maybe they aren’t annoying, perhaps I’m just being defensive because deep down I know that they might be right!
I used to see protests in the street and feel angry. I always referred back to the quote “An eye for an eye and whole world goes blind”. For me, fighting negativity with negativity just never made sense.
And now, after years of self-development, I’ve ended up becoming an activist myself – Ironic right?
But although I’ve learnt that activism is a truly beautiful and important thing, still, the thought of people getting aggressive or violent over certain issues doesn’t always seem like the answer.
I don’t like being yelled at for my mistakes, let alone ones that I’m not even aware of yet…
So that’s where peaceful activism comes in!
Before I get into it, I do agree that in many cases, all activism is good activism and that when it comes to injustice, being “peaceful” sadly isn’t always enough…
But what I’m talking about today, is more about APPROACH in your day-to-day conversations.
As I’ve said many times before, when I first began to learn about environmental activism, I was incredibly intimidated by the idea that I would be judged by this stereotypical label.
I didn’t want to be “that annoying preachy girl” that was constantly picking fights and making people feel uncomfortable. And then I realized that hey… I don’t have to be!
Regardless of whether you align with political, feminist, animal or environmental activism (etc.), there’s one thing that everyone can have in common – Compassion.
It’s often assumed that in order to inflict any sort of positive change in society, you have to constantly tell people off, attend aggressive protests and always live life waiting for an argument to occur. But what I’ve learned, is that in order to truly reach the hearts of those around you, you have to be relatable, compassionate and kind!
There’s a very big difference between guilt-tripping people into changing their actions and encouraging people to want to make the change for themselves.
As someone once told me; children don’t learn by constantly being yelled at for what they’ve done wrong… And adults are no different.
Although forceful activism definitely has a time and a place, if you’re like me and you feel that this approach doesn’t align with the issue you’re fighting for, just remember that using your own actions to make a change is a powerful form of activism too.
MAKING A STANCE THROUGH YOUR PURCHASES:
As they say, it’s all in the hands of the consumer!
Boycotting unethical purchases is creating less demand, which results in less production and a change in process. Choosing to support people/brands that align with your beliefs is an amazing way to showcase what you stand for. Start thinking as less of a consumer, and more as a citizen.
You have the power to inflict change through the way that you choose to spend (or not to spend) your money – whether you agree with it or not, money really does talk!
(Emailing the brand to tell them the reasons behind your boycott is incredibly helpful too)
LEADING BY EXAMPLE:
Actions speak louder than words! Show people exactly what you did to change your own life, and people will follow in your footsteps.
A bit like the butterfly effect, right?
SHOWING YOUR SUPPORT:
If you aren’t a fan of protesting and being loud about your beliefs, be an ally!
Make your support known, especially to those from marginalized communities, and remember that just because some issues don’t personally affect you, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care.
Donate, sign petitions, show your support in any way you can – learn, educate, amplify!
Standing with people (whether that be physically, verbally or emotionally), and amplifying their voices is so very important.
Unfortunately, social media has become a place where activists feel as though they can say whatever they want without having to deal with the ramifications. I have seen countless nasty and extremely hurtful comments online that are totally non-constructive.
And although *most of the time* I actually do agree with what’s being said, I always try to remember to put myself in the other person’s shoes…
There was a point in my life where I was totally unaware of how much my actions could have a negative impact on the planet and on those around me, and I know for a fact that having someone hurtfully attack me for that would never have encouraged me to change. Instead, this kind of behaviour pushes people to close the doors and give up altogether… And I can say that from personal experience!
For me, I was motivated by the people who showed me just how easy it was to adjust my lifestyle to be more environmentally conscious, not by people who forcefully told me too.
Activism shouldn’t always be about telling people what they can and can’t do, it should be about making people want to continually choose the better option.
We don’t always have to be assertive, outspoken and frustrated to prove a point – being patient, tolerant and respectful can work wonders too!
I don’t have the strength to constantly be angry at everything that occurs around me (I recognize my privilege in this)… You can trust me when I say that there are many things that make me frustrated and mad, but instead of yelling at those who aren’t aware, I use that frustration as a way to better myself and the input that I have in the world.
For me, peaceful activism is all about standing up for what is right, but putting compassion first ♡
Over to you! Do you believe that peaceful activism or assertive activism is the most effective?
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