Activism is a huge idea and often times scary for the individual. We look back at history and see the marches for civil rights, the sit ins for peace, and the demonstrations for freedom and it call all be too much to process. You get swept up in the current thinking how you can help effect a change or even if you could. Suddenly, your daily life filters in. You have work obligations, rent that has to be paid, family to take care of, and on and on. You get frustrated and you turn away thinking there is nothing else you can do. That is where the misconception comes from, you still have a voice and can still make a difference.
This country has experiences dark times, in its history, and even more dark times in our recent history. We see a president that is embroiled in sex scandals, horrendous view on minorities, and seems to only want to increase the socio-economic divide between our people. The voice of the people screams out for change, but the problems is on a national level and seems to big, there is no way your small voice can make a difference, can it? The answer is yes, it still can make a difference. I am going to share with you seven small steps you can take to help effect change and most of which take very little time. Where you start is what makes the difference. Don’t think so large scale, in fact focus on what’s right in front of you and stay local. It is like the ripple effect, small changes locally have a large, grander impact once they are noticed. Chances are there are local chapters of much larger organization that you can get connected with and start working inside of your community. And that’s where these steps come in handy, so let’s take a look.
What drives you, what topics get you most emotional? What are things you really want to see changed? These could be as large as equal access to health care for all LGBTQ people or as small as trans people in your community having equal access to public restrooms. When you think about these things, you may even find a specific situation or person that becomes the focus of your charge. That can become the drive that sustains your passion.
After you know what you change you may want to effect, start learning as much as possible about that situation. Don’t just look at it from the outside. If you are dealing with a community idea, get out and talk to the people that it affects. Ask them about what kind of change they would like to see and what ideas they have to help. Volunteer with local organizations, this gets you involved to see the steps that are already being taken to make progress and allow you to see them through a fresh set of eyes.
Small Steps Matter
Every journey start with stepping outside your door. This is as simple as supporting business that also support your cause. Don’t spend money with groups who do not. Which banks you allow to handle our money, the kind of car you drive, and even the things you vote on. Social change is about what you choose to do every day, we all cannot be Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, or Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Sometimes just taking action is enough to start effecting change. We do have the LGBT Center of the Greater Cleveland that is always looking for volunteers. Prime example here is Chick-Fil-A. This is a company who still to this day actively donates to Anti-LGBTQ organizations. If you shop here, you are helping perpetuate. hatred and bigotry
Have A Big Vision
Not all of our efforts can be or should be wrapped up quickly. Many will take years to fully achieve and that is ok. These should not dissuade us from taking action, instead we should be more emboldened that we are planting a seed for the future generations to carry on. You build the change you want, and people will gravitate to it and help see it carried through to the future. So, “think globally and act locally.”
Find Like Minded People
Showing up to events that are being held about the topic you are passionate about, will help. This will align you with people who share you vision and your passion. It becomes the community you will draw and lend strength. As your numbers grow, you will find other resources that you will have access to and help grow your cause. This can be done from local contacts or even doing Google searches for organizations close by that share your views
Believe You Can Make A Difference
This one can be a bit harder, especially starting out. We don’t have the luxury of sitting by the wayside any longer and thinking that our small efforts wont help. For the changes we need to happen under this administration, it is going to take each and every one of us making those small steps, whatever they are. We cannot afford disillusionment. Finding a community support structure will help with this more that you can imagine. Be mindful that your actions may/will inspire someone else to take action and then from there the change can snowball quickly. Sharing your passions with others will help you reaffirm your beliefs and also show others.
This cannot be stressed enough. Each and every one of us should be out voting for each and every election there is. Each election or bill can have far reaching implications and if you are not educated on the implication you will miss why it is important to take action. Encourage your family and friends to vote, you don’t have to agree on who or what, it is important that each person votes and helps others be able to make their votes as well. Elections, historically, sway to Republican outcomes when fewer people turn out to vote. Want to make sure that Trump doesn’t get a re-election, then get out there and vote and encourage anyone you can to vote as well. Even drive them to the polls, if you need to.
These are just a few small things you can do to become more active, all with the mindset of not taking up a lot of time. Together, these can have a much larger impact on your local community and then into the larger community. And, realistically, our own neighborhoods are overlooked when it comes to social justice issues. Working to correct what is closer to home has a much larger impact on the social welfare of the people. Activism doesn’t always have to be on a global level ora major life changing event. Work where you feel comfortable.