“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I don’t know about you, but I loathe being a bystander. A little over a year ago, I started hating it so much that I invested a lot of time and energy into teaching myself how to become more civically engaged and actually take action to fight against the injustices that I was witnessing on what seemed like a daily basis (and this was pre-2020). You can read more detail about my civic engagement “curriculum” in my previous article, How Can You Become a More Active Citizen?.
Alas, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to not only motivate others to take action on their personal development goals, but also to take action to create change in the world. So as we celebrate the birthday of one of the most distinguished civil rights activists in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr., it’d only do him justice if I used my platform today to share some actionable strategies to fight for what is right, especially in a world where it feels like so much is… well, wrong.
Here are a few starting points for the person who is ready to stop simply preaching and start becoming a contributing part of the social justice movement, whether it’s racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice or the plethora of other extremely pertinent good fights to fight. In the words of John Lewis…
“Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.“
Rep. John Lewis
Research organizations that support a cause you care about and subscribe to them.
This is a small step, but it can be a significant one. If you’re angry about the lack of mental health resources in your community, find organizations that are already working to increase access to mental health care and sign up for their email updates. Follow them on social media.
Becoming more familiar with the issue – and learning what organizations out there are already doing the work to address it – will likely inspire you to get more involved. Check to see if they have volunteer opportunities available. Heck, see if they have job openings. Reach out to someone on the team just to learn more about what you can do to support them.
Often, these organizations will also provide legislative updates with links to contact your representatives (see below for more on that). By subscribing to organizations fighting for causes that you care about, you can stay up to date with what’s going on in Congress related to those issues without having to keep up with political agendas yourself. Speaking of…
Write to your representatives.
This. Is. So. IMPORTANT! I will shout from the mountaintops how incredibly powerful it is to communicate with your local, state and federal representatives. I’ve personally talked to so many people who cared about an issue, but never contacted their reps because they thought, “I’m just one person, my voice won’t make a difference”. But you VOTED didn’t you? It doesn’t matter if you are one person, your voice MATTERS.
Don’t know who your reps are? This website, myreps.datamade.us is a magical tool that shows you LITERALLY every human who represents you – and all you have to do is enter your address. Not only that – it provides links to their social media sites and their phone numbers and email addresses so you can follow & CONTACT them!
I’m using lots of caps here on purpose because it truly can make a difference to reach out to your reps. If you do contact them, get your friends involved! Post on social media! Tell your family! You’d really be surprised what can come of it.
Create change within your own environment, no matter how small.
Maybe you’re not storming the Capitol (too soon?) or delivering civil rights speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enact change within your own social circles, communities and environments.
For example, see if your company has an outdated FMLA policy – are women allowed much more time off after giving birth than men? Are company policies inclusive of members of the LGBTQ+ community? Do they even have a Diversity and Inclusion team or department? As every public transit likes to remind you – if you see something, say something. Maybe YOU are the one who speaks up about it to your supervisor, or to HR. Maybe YOU ask colleagues if they feel the company represents them and is inclusive – and if not, address it!
The same goes for schools, universities, volunteer sites, or virtually any organization or community of which you are apart. No matter what, there is likely some opportunity for improvement and positive change, and don’t forget that you can be the one to take the initiative.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I live by this Margaret Mead quote. If there’s anything I want you to take away from this article, it’s that you need to kill that “I’m just one person” voice in your head. That mindset is what is STOPPING you from doing anything at all. And I imagine if you’re reading this, your goal is to take action – not sit around contemplating what you could do.
Whether you follow the advice provided above or not, promise me this – you won’t ‘passively accept evil’ because you convinced yourself you were ‘just one person’.