Kudos for civic activism and social justice: you are a born communicator!

May 21, 2016 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

As we stroll along the transitory journey of life, it is only natural to progressively focus first and foremost on our education, acquiring skills, career aspirations, and perhaps marriage so as to form our family and raise children, and to attend to our elders’ needs. Along such a path of endeavors in life however, and as we feel more comfortable with or move beyond our sustenance priorities, a tantalizing sense of reciprocating to our immediate community, society at-large, humanity, and mother nature with the ultimate aim of yearning for justice leading to tranquility and peace in mind, gradually overwhelm us. Altruism, Humanism, Philanthropy and Volunteerism (AHPV) are the four hallmarks for effectuating transformations thereby contributing to justice and peace that humanity has yearned for since the dawn of history. And if you assume you are alone and hence cannot effectuate reforms and serve justice at any level, think again!

It is in that spirit that we should each carefully identify social ills, injustices, inequalities, exploitations of human and natural resources and then reach deeply into our own conscience and in tandem with the like-minded, decide which ones we empathize with the most. We should then pivot our actions and intellectual and financial resources through one or more of AHPV hallmarks. This should in turn contribute toward a policy shift, empowerment paradigm, etc. to ultimately serve justice and peace. Whereas one might solely focus on issues faced by the self-community of residence, others may also give credence to help bring about justice, equality and peace in their respective country of origin. In doing so, the more affluent may donate funds as benefactors, while others may provide intellectual or expertise input, or simply serve as the foot soldiers for a cause to broaden the grassroots’ base or to educate or exert persuasion on the policy makers. ”One of the simplest modes to serve justice is to articulate and communicate your well flushed out thoughts on an impending issue, proactively when possible, and to propose solutions. This may entail you giving a talk in a public setting such as a library, a college or simply your child’s school, in a symposium, visiting or at least calling your senator or congressperson to register your concerns on specific issues whereby you respectfully corroborate your stance with facts firmly but “short and sweet”, and then close with your proposed solution or expectations to the impending issue.

Everyone concurs that the pen is mightier than sword! (Replace keyboard strokes nowadays for pen). With the ubiquitous proliferation of communication devices and online social media, websites, blogs, Facebook, twitter, and actual internet based magazines alongside classical print media, expressing your views in writing has become as easy as a few key strokes from your cell phone or iPad anywhere and anytime. This could entail, writing a letter to the editor, an op-ed, an essay or prose, a fully researched article or manuscript, or simply commenting on a recently published article. You could preferably use your real name and affiliation, or, alternatively, resort to a penname if so desired.

In order to maximize your chances to get your write up/opus published, you first have to carefully review the specific editorial policy of the medium/paper/website you are aiming at, understand their underlying ideology (mission and vision), and their criteria for submission. For instance, whereas a letter to the editor is limited to 150 to 300 words, op-eds or short articles are 750-1200 words in length. You then devise your writing within such frameworks. You should also use the appropriate writing style, be it business style, satirical, humorous, sarcastic, etc. If you write a letter to the editor, then ensure to refer to a recently published piece or a timely topic and provide a statement in support of the said article, or present a counterview and back it up with rational facts and a logical constructive alternative. Although you may or may not follow a certain coalescing consensus on advancing a policy or societal issue, do make sure to remain along a virtual path in commonality, solidarity or comradery with your peers who think and/or act alike. Never make personal attacks or resort to smear or defamation campaigns, as it is counterproductive, you lose getting your point across and you may even be held legally liable. Always let us remember, the main point is NOT for us to feel great about ourselves or our ego, but rather for a community driven topic to be advanced. And last, do share your draft with a few peers for feedback before you ultimately submit it for publication.

Simply put, between a messenger and the message, it is that latter that is deemed meritorious to share when it helps moving a constructive agenda forward. To sum it up, what are you exactly waiting for now? If you have and continue tackling any of the above, and only based on your own conscience with no pre-judgement by any peers, Kudos be upon thee! And if you have NOT yet, then get on with it now. And if and when you embark upon carrying forward a certain community cause, do not expect all others to drop what they may be doing and follow your “crusade.” And if they did not, do not neglect, discount or denigrate what they do at their own discretion. Above all, do not presume simply because you may rightly be doing a specific community activity gratis that everyone else should follow and line up on your path or be doomed when they might well be pursuing other noble causes.
Again, whether or not you undertake a community endeavor, do not expect others to follow in your leads, as there are ample other community causes they may or may not be actively pursuing; and simply because you feel you do your fair (over-)share, do not become arrogant, self-righteous, self-indulgent, or megalomaniac giving yourself the right to make [misguided] judgements upon others.

Once again writing skills, attending community advancement events, calling your senator, congressperson or the White House switch board to express your concerns and propose alternative solutions, or simply making donations to cause(s) as you deem meritorious, are the least steps one could successfully pursue. Advancing humanity, justice and peace, and/or preserving the mother-earth with much humility, are the best rewards which would help one’s spirit ascend to new heights and levels of consciousness and develop a clear sense of purpose in life.

For example, look back at the pivotal impact the legendary life of Ralph Nader has had on consumer safety, political and civic activism, and the role of citizenry in American life and beyond. You may even read his latest book, Breaking Through Power, and attend a four day national conference on the same subject: A Historic Civil Mobilization to be held in Washington DC May 22-26.

Epitomizing, as to most people, the glass is always half full. As to a small cohort, the glass is always half empty. However, to very few enlightened special selects, naturalists among others, the glass is always filled to the rim, half with water and the other with [invisible] air, two of the four essential elements of life (the others being fire and earth). And to top that off and to a Universalist, a glass in the vacuum of space is still filled with dark matter and dark energy according to first law of thermodynamics.

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This post was written by David Rahni

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