The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Historically, before any major social and political changes occur, there are rallies, demonstrations, and uprisings. When people feel ignored, dismissed, or oppressed they reach a boiling point and find dramatic ways to get attention made to their plight or cause.
Consider The Boston Tea Party, Labor demonstrations and organizations, the march from Selma, Pride Parades, the Million Man March, the Native American Pipeline Protest, and the Women’s March. These are just a few in our U.S. history.
Whether you agree with their platforms or their choice of actions, one cannot disagree that these activists bold moves brought more attention to their movements and brought, at best, momentum for change and, at worst, started a conversation.
What if you believe in a cause but you aren’t very good at being squeaky?
Maybe you are introvert or shy away from loud crowds of people? What if your responsibilities keep you from participating? Perhaps your temperament would not be a good addition to the cause. What can you do?
You Can Still Let Your Voice Be Heard
There are things you can do to support the front lines and they need you!
Movements always need supporters or the leaders just appear to be crazy ranters. And things don’t truly change until people adopt different attitudes and habits.
You can be heard by:
- Signing petitions
- Writing your lawmakers/people in power (a good starting point is www.senate.gov or www.house.gov
- Sharing thoughtfully worded opinions by you or someone else on social media about your cause (Before sharing anything on social media, make sure it is factually correct, and that you are educated enough on the subject to have a thoughtful debate, and that you can do it without spewing vitriol or hate)
- Having an intelligent conversation or debate amongst those in your circle of influence. (Please note the word conversation, which is not the same as sermon and the same rules for social media apply here)
During this process, always be willing to listen to the other side before replying. This way you can learn from them and address any concerns they might have about your thought process. Or perhaps, in the midst of the back and forth, you may find a middle ground or a better approach to a problem (two heads are better than one).
Civilized conversation is also more persuasive than soapbox rants and name calling. While that would seem to be common sense, it would appear in this day and age it is not as common as it used to be. Treating or speaking to people in a dignified manner is the greater influencer.
You Can Be Behind the Scenes
There is an enormous amount of work that goes into social and political change. You can always work behind the scenes to do the non glamorous jobs.
There is never a shortage of grunt work or the need for specialized services. You may be a painfully shy agoraphobic accountant but that is ok, they still need someone to keep the books even if you are never seen in public.
If all you have is a couple of odd hours here and there, I am sure you can find some way to be useful. Just ask.
Money still talks. Money is still necessary to help accelerate a cause.
You can choose where you spend your money and what or who it supports. You can monetarily support the squeakers and the noisemakers. You can monetarily support programs already in place to help what you believe in.
You Can Be An Example
What do you believe in? Do your actions show it?
Good examples don’t need an introduction. They are walking the walk. They affect change without raising their voices or carrying banners.
They are the ones living their beliefs without the parades, the signs, or the bullhorns.
Pick a cause, any cause, and you can find many more people doing the groundwork than people bringing attention to it. The more people who are doing the important work instead of just talking about it, the faster and more likely you are to get sustainable results.
Being an example is also a great way to support many causes at once. You can support political affiliations, civil rights, and the environment all at the same time just by choosing the way you live your life.
As one who quietly supports my causes, I use all of the above strategies. Is there anything I left out? Do you have any other methods or approaches to being a quiet activist?
Your Turn: I seriously want to know…what do you do to be a quiet activist?