So if you want to really make a difference to the world, there’s a few things you will need to do.
The first of course, is self awareness. Whay are you doing what you are doing? There’s an element of ego in all activism, and you need to be very aware of your motivations, so that they do not lead you off course.
I know some activists who are so wedded to a mode of protesting – be it rallys, petitions, flyers or campaign structures, that they literally cannot see any other way of doing things, and will structure their campaign around that model, even if it won’t work very well and hasn’t done for a number of years.
To step outside what you have always done is uncomfortable for many people. It puts you outside your comfort zone, and forges new pathways in the brain. Growth is always uncomfortable because a well-smoothed pathway is always easier. The possibility of failure looms large, and the ego wants to avoid failure at all costs.
To remove ego, you need to get very dispassionate about what you are doing. An outside moderator or group of other people can be very useful here.
First, you need to work out exactly what the end result is that you want.
Be very clear about it, and make sure it is realistic and achievable. In spite of the soppy stuff floating about the ether talking about aiming high, an unachievable aim is not good for anyone’s psychology. It turns people off. Start small and buld up.
Now a realistic end result is not to be framed in the terms of ‘organise a rally’, because that teleports you right back into the dominant paradigm again.
One of the little groups I am involved with had a 2 year goal of ‘make some noise’. We didn’t specify how to get there, we just experimented with a bunch of methods to achieve that aim. We tried a website, Facebook, face to face meetings, submissions, television appearances, radio, letters to the editor, letters to politicians and authorities. Using all of these methods allowed each person in the group to have something they felt they could do, which is how to engage people about your issue and keep your group vibrant and active.
So what is your end result? If it is too large, then break it right down into achievable chunks. If divestment of all banks from Fossil Fuels is the aim you want to reach for, then bring it down to something achievable this year – eg raise awareness in my town that my local bank invests in tar sands.
You could count that achieved with a couple of articles in the local paper, but don’t prescribe the method. Leave it wide open and let your members tell you what they would like to do.
This removes your self imposed limits and allows new energy into the system.
You want open questions not closed ones, an open system not a closed one.
In fact, in some ways you need to relinquish control of the issue. This is hard for the ego to do – to listen, not to speak, to be receptive, not prescriptive.
Give it a try – the results will surprise you.
Next Page: The Sacred Activist – Avoiding Burnout