Everyday activism is the habit of working socially conscious choices into our everyday lives. It could be described as "changing the world one habit at a time." One advantage to this approach to activism is that it does not require large lifestyle changes of people. As such it is often contrasted with the activist lifestyle.
Everyday activism has become much more common among post-modern social movements like the Environmental Movement and the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement. Modern movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, relied on a higher level of organization among movement members.
The philosophy behind everyday activism is that small changes made by large numbers of people can have very large effects. It may be difficult for everyday activism to lead to the kind of immediate, large-scale changes that come from more organized social action. On the other hand, protests and elections happen infrequently, so the potential for participation is limited. People spend money every single day, so using even a small percentage of that money in a socially conscious way can make big differences.
What is everyday activism all about? Edit
The primary realization behind the choice to engage in everyday activism is that all of our actions have social effects, even if we do not notice those effects. Everyday choices such as our purchases, commuting habits, electricity usage, and pass-times can have effects on a wide range of social issues.
Once we realize this, we can change our actions, even if only in small ways, which has effects on the rest of society.
What tools does the everyday activist need? Edit
- Critical thought! This cannot be stressed enough. What is critical thought? Critical thought is the evaluation of an idea. Instead of accepting every idea that is passed our way, we can evaluate for its value to our lives, to the lives of those around us and the life of the Earth. By evaluating all ideas which are passed our way we open the way for a new way of thought. It may take practice, if you have never thought critically before, but be patient with yourself.
- An inquiring mind! Research! Look at all viewpoints before you make your final decision about an issue. Apply critical thought to all the information that you research. Beware of false information (especially on the internet) and advertisements. These present false/biased views.
- Communication! The most effective way to spread your viewpoint is through deep, insightful, compassionate conversation. Be open to new points of view. Communication allows us to hear other points of view and gives us the opportunity to defend and refine our own viewpoints. Communication also allows us to spread our ideas. If you come up with, or hear of, an idea that you think makes a difference, the best way to make it happen is to inform others of what you're doing and why. In this way, everyday activism becomes more effective: the more people who participate, the larger the difference that is made.
- An open mind! Remember that many things we encounter on our sojourns into acitivsm are contrary to those we've been raised on. Try to accept all ideas as valid, don’t dismiss something just because it seems impossible in your realm. Use the tools above to judge whether or not something is worth doing.
- Commitment! This is not a scary word. It means being committed to making positive change within yourself, your community, your government, your society and your planet. If you break your commitment, don't feel bad, just start back up again.
- Positive outlook! This one can be hard for some people. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly desolate state of the world. However, maintaining a positive outlook will help you maintain your commitment. It will also help inspire others towards positive change. Instead of getting angry when someone is doing something that is environmentally/socially/politically damaging, try to use that energy to make something positive.
What everday activism is NOT: Edit
- The be-all-end-all of activism. It is a personal thing and should be judged accordingly.
- Someone telling you how to live your life. You make the choices of what you do.
- Condemnation of other ways of life. If someone doesn't follow your viewpoint, it doesn't mean their way of living is not valid. It may not be understandable, or even positive, but condemning them and spreading negativity and hatred will only make things worse.
How can you get involved? Edit
- Participate in this wiki! If you have a great idea that you want to share, by all means, share it!! If there's something you don't agree with, let us know! We grow by challenging and sharing what we've learned.
- Follow one or many of the tips posted here. Start small and work your way up. Follow the ideas that work in your level of comfort.
- Spread the good word! By telling others about the things you are doing (or sending them to this wiki) we create a larger community of individuals who will effect change, share ideas and help us refine our views.
- Going at your own pace. Everyday activism can seem overwhelming. But the good news is, it's for everyone to do at their own pace. We are all human and have different levels of comfort and limitations. Start with one simple habit, say: changing from tissue to hankerchiefs. This is a small step, but you will immediately notice the change in the amount of money you save and the waste you generate.
- Not beating yourself up. We will sometimes, in everyday activism, decide to do something, say: use hankerchiefs instead of tissues, and then not do it for a time. Often, we get down on ourselves for not following through on our decisions. Everyday activism advises against this. It promotes negative feelings which can sway you from the path of activism. So don't feel guilty, don't get mad that we're not perfect. We're all human. If you have stopped following an everyday action that you had been, then just start up again.