By Carla Gozo
In the age of the Keyboard Warriors, our generation has grown accustomed to reacting to the world as fast as it takes to type out and send a tweet. We often forget that discussing causes should also mean acting on them. Or perhaps we know that we need to do something about these issues, but we don’t know how.
If you want to go beyond your social media rantings, here are five things you can do to take your advocacies offline:
1. Know what your avenues for action are.
Join protests, school organizations, and NGOs. In short, get involved. Being immersed in a group that upholds the same beliefs as you is the best way to figure out what course of action you should take. It’s the same principle as taking an internship: you enter a field of work from the bottom so you can get a feel of how employees work, and learn from those with more experience than you. Unlike in online forums, what’s nice about being physically present in gatherings is that there’s a stronger sense of legitimacy and accountability. The people in charge are screened and qualified so chances are when you ask someone, “What should we do?” you’ll get the right answers.
2. Give and take perspectives.
Along with immersing yourself in groups that share your views, you should also be immersing yourself in groups that don’t. One of the biggest misconceptions about advocating is that it’s about winning every argument you get into. You are not always right, but you won’t know this unless you expose yourself and listen to someone else’s reality. Maybe you’re pro-abortion, but you've never met anyone with a tragic abortion experience. Maybe you think the war on drugs is a good idea because you’ve never known anyone who was wrongfully accused and killed because of it.
Wherever you are on the political spectrum, you should never be unswayable. On the other hand, if you manage to enlighten someone else’s perspective, be gracious about it. Be happy for whoever’s mind you changed because your discussion helped them grow, and now you both understand how to better proceed with your advocacies.
3. Remember that the law and your rights are there to aid you.
In reality, rights and rules must go hand in hand for any state to progress. In this way, exercising your rights becomes a duty to justice. Do you want a say in how the government should be run? Exercise your right to vote. Do you want to change an enacted policy? Exercise your right to petition. Sometimes you don’t even need to go through the government at all to uphold just laws. It can be as easy as picking up trash you see on the ground and disposing of it properly or abiding by driving regulations. Before jumping to the conclusion that you have to fight the system to fix it, don’t forget to try using it to your advantage first.
4. Live by principle.
There's a lot of people who speak so passionately about justice and equality, and then they just turn out to be the biggest bigots behind smoke and mirrors. It’s simple: Practice what you preach. If a friend of yours says something sexist, call them out. If you think a certain company is corrupt, boycott them. When you find yourself in a position of power, treat your subordinates justly and with respect. Always use your moral compass as a guide for your actions.
5. Don't lose faith.
Let’s face it, living your advocacies out in real life can get exhausting when your attempts to fight for what’s right are overpowered by unethical billion dollar corporations or prevailing traditional social norms. When you think of yourself as one person in a sea of injustice, it is easy to get disheartened and give up. But don’t. If you lose faith in humanity then there is no longer any point in trying. Big change happens slowly and always takes way more than one generation to complete. Celebrate the small stuff because it means we’ll get somewhere eventually.
We must acknowledge that keeping an issue trending for a few days is not where it ends. It will take grit and determination. It will take blood, sweat, and tears. But for a generation with a battle cry as loud as ours? The fight is just beginning.
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