By Emma Buchman
True activism is a powerful thing. If your passion is strong enough, one person can change everything. However, as with all things, making permanent and positive change can only be achieved through balance. Yes, you need conviction and authority in order to forward your cause. But being aggressive and overbearing not only prevents your cause from moving forward; it actually hurts it considerably.
There are so many great causes out there that promote equality: the feminist movement and the LGBT community, for example. Many of those involved with these causes do well to help promote the good things that they do and make it clear that these causes are not about one group being better than another; they are about everyone being equal and having an equal share in the opportunities that this world has to give.
But it only takes one wrong move to send a good name down in flames. One bad representative can turn off an innumerable number of people. And with social media today, it becomes so much more difficult to prevent people from making poor choices and hurting the cause. Everyone claims to know something or someone, and most times these claims are inaccurate. Internet sites like Tumblr are famous for these sorts of cases, as well as prominent feeding grounds for aggressive and verbally abusive debaters. Rather than have a healthy debate and know when to stop, many activists on the Internet will verbally beat down their opponents and insult them, even if their views are almost exactly the same. This discourages people with more moderate views from fully participating in the cause. More importantly, it reinforces the negative stereotypes that opponents may have and gives them the fuel they need to goals further from completion.
That is why I come with this warning. Being involved is a great thing. However, if all that you do is attack people in debates and give an organization a bad name, chances are said organization will not want you. Most people who are aggressively supporting a cause care very deeply about it. They just need a bit of help understanding that it is not only what you say, but how you say it. Be careful how you promote your charities and always know your own limitations. Defense always requires offense. However, sometimes offense means knowing when to stop pushing back.
Some examples of the Dos and Don’ts for positive cause promotion are below. Read them, cherish them. Love them.
Do: Be respectful.
Don’t: Yell at people who disagree with you. Just don’t do it. Ever.
Do: Conduct research on information about your cause, and as for the opinions of those directly involved with it. For example, if you want to be involved in the LGBT, talk to someone who is actually gay or transgender and ask what equality means to them.
Don’t: Use Tumblr to conduct this research. Or any research. Tumblr is for Supernatural gifs and pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch (see ad to the right). You would do well to learn that.
Do: Stay the course of your cause and prioritize which goals are the most important to you. Also try to prioritize which facts defend your cause to most, and which will most likely get your point across.
Don’t: Argue about your cause simply for the sake of arguing. It is very apparent when you do, and it gets very annoying, very quickly.
Do: Be kind and supportive to everyone who needs it, whether they are a part of your cause or not.
Don’t: Allow your views and the goals of the cause to blind you from someone standing right next to you that needs your help. You never know what may come back to you when you give out one act of kindness.