The Future of Activism and Building a Better World

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Theresa

In today’s world, swept with globalism, we are taught to survive in a toxic and corrupt system. Though we try to reason away our natural needs for basic human survival, the truth remains the same. That is, in a “dog eat dog” world, we have to fight and fend for ourselves if we ever want to move up out of the trenches where all the “shit that rolled down hill” went.

Naturally, we all want to live a life of relative ease. But we also know that we live in dire times and can’t afford to lose anymore time.

When we call ourselves activists, we are saying, in essence, that we advocate for a bigger cause than ourselves. This usually spans from small communities to globally. We are saying that we stand up for injustice that is being blatantly ignored for the sake of progress, greed, power, and oppression.

In recent years, and largely due to the connective powers of the internet, activism has taken a wild shift throughout the world. We have seen how social media has drastically connected and changed what activism is about and who can be involved. In many ways, this has been a good thing. More people are coming together than before and can work together on these causes. However, we’ve also created many bad things with it too. Activism has divided in many ways, and in others, has lost mass respect from audiences, peers, and other groups. Many groups of activists have created such bad names for themselves that they have totally pushed away the most precious thing in activism. Our numbers of people involved. We’ve pushed away our audiences.

Without numbers, activism is dead.

Without an audience and growing numbers to help us achieve our massive goals, we only end up preaching to the choir. Our own members, who are already on board with the message. While this is good, it is not enough to compensate and override the mass destruction going on around us. With some activist groups, people actually cringe when the name is brought up. I know because I’m one of them, but have also heard many others, offline and online, say the same thing. I remember when activism used to be about principles of not treating others like a number, including animals and the environment. There used to be more respect when people stood up for what is detrimentally and fundamentally wrong. I know there are many of you still out there somewhere, but a lot of that strength we had has evaporated for pissing contests on social media purely for pride. And the ones the suffer for the most for it, are the ones we’re trying to save. Because without numbers, we don’t have the power to change what’s in front of us.

But that’s exactly what we see going on all over social media and offline. Those that are not educated about the dire state of our planet also suffer, because instead of getting the friendship and role-modeling they need, they’re getting ridiculed, laughed at, scorned and judged for things they don’t understand. And just like the mass exodus of the churches many years ago, the same thing is happening with activism.

Some might say social media doesn’t matter. That it isn’t real. But the people who say this have underestimated and even failed to see just how powerful it is. Our competitors know though. They have have reached into people’s lives, and worse, their minds, and drastically changed how business is done. I’ll name Amazon as one, whose profits have skyrocketed over the years. That is partly due to convenience, but social media plays into it as well. We all know that Amazon contributes to environmental issues plus other problems, but still has managed to tap into our psyche’s and gave us something we couldn’t resist. Convenience, good prices, and a massive collection of items to choose from, all from the comfort and ease of our homes. We can literally shop 24 hours a day. And we’re all getting the Amazon ads all over our social media, apps, and other places.

We can see the total win it has been for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who doesn’t pay federal taxes (Amazon doesn’t) and now may be the richest man in the world. All this while activism has become a pecking order on social media. Another competitor has slipped through our fingers while we were too busy pulling power trips on Facebook posts that hurt our audiences.

“The future depends on what you do today.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

The truth of it is that activism isn’t making a big enough impact on the front lines to catch up to all the destruction and harm that’s being caused by globalism. Activists have lost their principles and values on a worldwide level. Everything has become too aggressive to win any hearts over to the back breaking, blood pouring cause of having a better world. If it did, we’d be seeing the changes we want to see at a much more massive level. Because we all know that the Amazon rainforest is on fire right now. We all know that the ice caps are melting. We all know that Human Trafficking is at an all time history high and pulling in more money than any of us will ever see. We all know that the political sectors don’t unite and drive policies to reverse the destruction, and in fact have actively rallied against it.

The very disease that pushes globalism along at an unprecedented rate is the same diseased mindset that has infiltrated activism. We are driven to be prideful and independent in order to mentally, physically, and emotionally survive on a daily basis. It’s not what any of us want to hear, and it’s not anything we can do by ourselves, but we must start fighting against that mindset if we want to see bigger changes take affect.

Even though the world looks stark, it doesn’t have to be this way. We have countless leaders, good and bad, to show us that when done right, the masses can be powerfully swayed towards a common goal. I’ll mention Amazon again, but also leaders like Gandhi, like him or not, shifted an entire country’s mind about who really owns that land and who really possess the power.

The people.

Gandhi, and Jeff Bezos both knew and know, that people have the power, especially en masse. One worked for bettering the world, the other works for globalism. But both tell us with the right persuasion, people will follow.

Our activism as a united whole could have this too. If we’d only learn how to be better leaders of ourselves first, and then also others. And because activism stands on the rock of a “better world” as its foundation, we all have to go through the same personal transformations that people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, and many others went through. We have to learn individually and collectively how to transform our traumas into empowerment to the point where we can stand side by side with people who may be radically different from us, but still fighting for the same cause,… a better world.

We have to learn how to develop boundaries and also learn who and how to trust. We have to let down our pride and our guard a little bit so we can begin conversations that empower ourselves and others to create positive change. And all the while, being there to support each other through it. Because what we need to do is vastly different from what we want to do. And what we need to do is tough, but they always say that anything worth doing is going to be hard. And we all know this is worth doing. We will be branded by fire and sifted like wheat within ourselves to test how much we really believe in this change.

We have to start getting on the same page with other people that aren’t always like-minded so we can start to bridge gaps in communication and repair the damage our hostilities with others have created. We have to stop listening to memes on Facebook that promote poor ideas about relating to other humans. Unless the person is actively harming your life, “We don’t need that kind of negativity…” is a toxic message that is derisive, exclusive, and cuts out the very people who need help and we need their help with contributing to a better world.

The Dangers of Triggers in Activism

All of us have come across others we deem toxic. But that is also our triggers making us believe things that aren’t always true. Triggers are tricky like that. Sometimes they are genuine, intuitive alerts telling us there is something oppressive happening, but other times you’re just triggered from your own past. Most people are triggered by something now days. How are we to discern the truth from the illusion if we never heal ourselves? And worse yet, how do we heal our world if we’re trying to force others to change, before we’ve even done the work in ourselves?

In any trauma education it’s known that one of the steps to healing is to work out of being in a victim state of mind. So long as you’re there, (blaming others is a trait), it is mentally impossible to heal, let alone emotionally. You have to decide and commit to healing. Also known in trauma studies, is that if you don’t heal, it gets worse over time. You then run the risk of becoming that toxic person to other people. Your quality of life and relationships starts to recede over the years, because you haven’t worked through what triggers are intuitive and which ones are flashbacks.

It’s also known that most activists were born into some kind of trauma. Or, have experienced or witnessed it to such a degree that they root for the underdog. But if not healed, we risk or have become, the oppressor to others somewhere in our lives, be it people, animals, environment, or even themselves, which is harmful on a different level.

The only way to this is through this.

If we want to drastically overhaul activism, we’re going to need to revolutionize how we relate to ourselves and thus others. We’ll need to learn how to overcome trauma and become relational leaders who can start helping others do the same. We will need to learn how to deal with the shitty in our lives, but still band together for a greater cause. And this is very possible to do, if we will only put our minds to it and see that until we change ourselves and how we’re doing activism, we’re going to watch our efforts slowly slip through our hands like sand in an hourglass. And we all know we’re at the 11th Hour.

If you would like to get started on personal transformation for Social Sustainability, here are 5 ways you can start to educate yourself.

  1. Emotional Intelligence and Trauma Recovery
  2. Nonviolent Communication
  3. Effective Communication
  4. Broadening Your Worldview
  5. Altruism
  6. Relational Leadership