STRESSING THE HOPE: AN ACTIVIST’S TOOLKIT
First let me share some activist ideas and strategies, then I will provide links (with brief summaries about each link) to articles of various topics, pro-active tips and ideas, etc. to comprise an activist’s toolkit.
What can we do when clouds cover the sun and hope is blocked from our vision? The thing to do is to always remember that the sun burns through clouds like they never even existed, and that the sun is always there no matter what. Storms and clouds are temporary things, blowing away with the winds and evaporating in the presence of the sun.
Our work as activists is always to tout the hope. Because hope motivates and inspires proactivity. Depression disables our masses, so we must break through it. That’s part of our work.
Let’s also not forget that it is not only facts themselves, but personal impressions which lead to people believing in or rejecting our statements. When we present ourselves in a way which is friendly, approachable, non-pushy, non-positional; when we “hear people out“ yet also are armed with the facts to respond to what people have to say, that is when we have our success. When we “Come on strong” like a fundamentalist religious person on a mission to convert people, we will only turn others off. And if our analyses of the facts are such that people believe them to be “paranoid”, then that too will be rejected by the people, no matter how absolutely accurate we are. To be understated is probably more effective than anything we can do. Last but not least, when we are understandably heated by what is going on and become rude in our manner, we lose credibility, no matter how accurate our facts may be. So let us always remember: The greatest key to our success as activists is not only to know our facts, but especially to present ourselves----with that “Self” as the primary source of our credibility-----in a kindly and believable way.
Another key to smart activism taught to me by a brilliant activist, is to identify and rebut commonly-held assumptions in the public mind. Examples: “Just let them wiretap me: I have done nothing wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide”. “As long as they keep me safe I am happy”. “If we write Congress it won’t make a bit of difference” etc….when we know what is on peoples’ minds and what informs their beliefs, we can create change by providing correct and fact-based information, based on which they can form their own new beliefs. Beliefs and assumptions are what motivate or demotivate people, so to work with assumptions and beliefs is key to spawning proactivity.
VERY IMPORTANT: In order for us to have a good Congress, it is terribly important to help to keep the *good* people in office. To do that, they need our encouragement. Struggling against great pressures and overwhelming odds, the discouragement must be so overwhelming as to tempt many of our good Congresspeople to give up, leave office, compromise, etc. To stay in touch with them and offer them cards of appreciation, praise, support, and to write letters to the editor praising their work (which gets word out and enlists the attention/empowerment through hope from the public) is key. You can even send the Congress member a praise-filled letter to the editor which you wrote.
In order to keep hope alive, it would be important for us all to focus our energies on getting good people elected rather than "being against" any one cause (which is to fight many battles and win them but also to lose the war. Winning the war means practicing the solution: Getting good people in public office).
The idea that Congress won’t care if we write to them is at times right and probably most of the times wrong. Crooked Congressmembers don’t care: That’s true. But others gain strength and credibility on the Congress floor by waving signatures and letters in front of their colleagues’ faces. Our input, especially in great numbers, can prevent compromise from happening, help passage of an unwanted bill to be halted, etc. Note also how many politicians are resigning to avoid scandal: Obviously our opinions do matter and our voice does count, or they wouldn’t be dodging the public disgrace! Truth is powerful and we must always remember that.
Last but not least, let us also remember that one powerful way to pack a punch into the world of proactivity is to hit corporations right where it counts: The pocketbook. Even if the day comes that we go so far as to lose our free speech, boycotting is the way we can definitely win. The time to start is now: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Write to your grassroots organizations, using the “contact us” button on their website, to organize boycotts, to ask for petitions about any particular matter to go around, to offer a new point of view, etc and there’s your power! The grassroots is stronger than ever, and therein lies our hope. Let’s use it to our advantage!
ARTICLES ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO ARE LINKED AND BRIEFLY SUMMARIZED BELOW
Here is a marvelous website of quotes, quotes and more quotes from our founding fathers, politicians et al, which are helpful in writing letters to the editor and talking to people: