In trying to define activism, we constantly use the phrase “bringing about positive change or progress in a community.” But we needed to unpack this further.
Kicking the idea around a bit, we agreed that what we were really getting at when we said “positive,” was moral; bringing about good change. And unfortunately, it feels like general sentiment on morality shifts cyclically. Sometimes it’s clear and the world wants you to know—this over here is good, this over here is bad, there is no in-between. Other times, there is no polarity; everything is a baffling shade of gray, driven by religious preferences, upbringing, politics, what side of the bed you got up on, etc.
Honestly, neither one of these philosophies really makes sense, and unless you’re something of a zealot or a nihilist, also difficult to adhere to. What we find is that rather than stringent rules or paradigms we as humans put in place, which are then enforced by “higher powers” (be it God, Karma, String Theory or Alan Rickman), morality is really driven by context. Ever fluid and changing, a thing which can be seen as inherently good in one situation can be equally as problematic (or downright wrong) in another.
At the risk of being wishy-washy, where does that leave us? We set out to write this blog post with the intent of defining positive/moral/good change (LOL), and obviously about 45 seconds in we realized that it just wasn’t going to be possible.
So instead, we’ve written up a handy little guide called The 10 Suggestions, a list of concepts, ideas or actions that generally speaking, are going to move you in a “good” direction. That said, the list is neither comprehensive nor infallible, so if one of these entries doesn’t work for your specific context—boot it. Like we said, these are guidelines, not hard–and–fast rules.
The 10 Suggestions
- Strive to be present. “Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed.” – Corita Kent, nun and graphic designer.
- Consider the environment. Pick up litter. Plant a tree. “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” – Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States.
- Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. “A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.” – Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church.
- Try not to be hard on yourself or others. “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.” – Bob Ross, painter and TV personality.
- Try not to shame others. “We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.” – Brene Brown, author, researcher and professor.
- Be kind. “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” – Mister Rogers, TV personality.
- Forgive. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi, political leader.
- Learn something new. “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.” – Malala Yousafzai, activist and Nobel laureate.
- Treat others the way you’d like to be treated (but make sure you’re treating yourself well). “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” – Immanuel Kant, philosopher.
- Admit when you’re wrong. “It’s a rare occurrence, like a double rainbow. Or like someone on the internet saying, You know what? You’ve convinced me I was wrong.” – Michael, demon and fictional character from ‘The Good Place.’
Take our 10 Suggestions along with you as you navigate the moral high (and low) roads of the world that you inhabit and want to make a better place. Then join us as we during our yearlong . Regardless of what philosophical pathways you explore, giving a damn is better when it’s with you.