What It Means To Be An Activist, by Emme Sang
Updated: Jan 13
When you think of the word “activist,” you think of someone emboldened and brazen. Someone who makes speeches, who posts passionately on social media, who spreads their cause far and wide to anyone who will listen. YouI think of people such as Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr, Greta Thumberg. Unreachable, daunting people, who operate at a standard that no “ordinary” person could meet.
At least, that’s how I’ve always thought of activists.
Daunting, brave individuals who are willing to take a stand. Courageous folk willing to scream into the void until someone listens. People who are, undoubtedly, not myself.
I do not consider myself to be an activist, at least in the mainstream sense. I’d rather work from behind the scenes, editing the newspaper articles, formatting the brochures, thinking of fundraising ideas. Even more preferred is going on a run or watching TV - nothing activist-like, in the least. The majority of the population might agree with me in that sense; most of us would rather stay away from the spotlight and let change occur organically.
Or, there might be a sense of knowing there’s something wrong with the world, something that we might want to change - but we have no idea how. Worse, we have no idea if anyone will listen. So we retreat back into our normal lives, pretend there isn’t a deep-seated issue in society that bothers us, that the world isn’t on fire.
Some might argue that to be a true activist, you have to go the whole nine yards - organize events, strikes, movements - but I, personally, don’t agree with that sentiment.
Activism can manifest in many different ways. Activism can be showing your family a video of water catching on fire from its high methane content, caused by fracking. Activism can be sharing an article on your couch and texting your friends how the Amazon is literally on fire. Activism can be dropping a dollar into a donation box.
Activism can be showing up to a strike just for one hour of your day, week, month, year.
So, go. Don’t let the daunting label of “activist” fool you. Because there are so many little things, after all, that constitute as activism - informing, sharing, marching - that aren’t huge tasks like giving a speech or organizing a strike.
Activism doesn’t have to feel like something impossible or mountainous.
It can just be showing up.