Monday, July 30, 2007

Social Change For Real

If you poke around the internet, a bookstore, or even your church bulletin looking for social justice activities, what you'll really find, most of the time, is charity activities. I've written about this a lot -and not just here- but you might look here for a pretty typical Andrea-rant on the subject: Needy Among Them. As with so many undertakings, the prevailing belief seems to be that people want the quick "feel good" project. And sometimes we unapologetically do.

These projects tend to go like this: you donate money, you call your elected officials, or you do a quick little trip to the food pantry with your extra food (or whatever). I do these things, and they need to be done. But I can't pretend to myself that they change the world.

To do that we need to think a little more globally. We need to examine and reflect upon the society we have. We need to challenge it where it's not meeting people's needs or the needs of the planet. And then we need to fundamentally change ourselves and our own actions. And then, at long last, we need to model these changes for other people to see. It wears me out a little to notice that most writers and organizers believe that people only want the easy route.

Get yourself on a board of a non-profit. Challenge committees/groups you're already in to adopt non-hierarchical models of governance. Make sure there are leaders of those groups coming up behind you. Mentor people from "the community of need" to assume leadership roles within the organizations. Challenge sexist and racist and homophobic language. Community supported agriculture? Use some new technology that without a doubt I don't understand to build community, to report news, to offer alternative perspectives, to exert some control over what we hear about and how we hear about it?

The thing is, we have to look at everything. What is the next right thing that I can do to make the world better? The questioning ought never stop. The people who write "1000 Easy Activities for Social Change" do important work. But even they underestimate us.

So what are you doing today? Why that? I really want to know.

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