Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless


I was reading a blog recently that mentioned micro-activism. This caught my eye, and my thoughts.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing when it comes to activism. I go through this fairly often. What is activism?

Sometimes it is obvious. Leafletting, giving a talk on veganism, setting up a display at the library, etc…these things are clear and obvious. But I rarely do any of those obvious things.

I don’t even talk about veganism that often, mostly because the majority of my interactions with people are at work, where we are reminded every week (literally) to not discuss anything that others might not agree with, or at the sanctuary, where we all pretty much are on the same page already.

So what do I do? What do I have time to do?

I don’t even blog that often, not that I’ve ever thought my blog was much in the way of activism, as it mostly seems to be my random thoughts…like now.

One of the reasons I don’t have much time during the week is because 2.5 hours of each day is spent on my bike commute.

And that means that one of the reasons I don’t have much time for even writing letters during the week is because I’m actually pretty busy living my beliefs.

Is that activism?

I think it is, in a way. It is important, regardless. So when I read someone’s thoughts on micro-activism, I paid attention. This, finally, was something I was comfortable applying to “what I do” in my daily life.

Living our beliefs is incredibly important, setting that example can speak louder than any of our logical words. Sometimes it takes a fierce will, or a lot of effort, to accomplish that. Taking care of ourselves really should be part of that. Eating tasty things at work might be part of that. Looking healthy, having energy, these are (like it or not) important non-verbal ways to help convince people to think about veganism. Or bike commuting. Or both.

Am I an activist? Or am I just going beyond what many do in order to live my beliefs? Do I have to get arrested to be an activist?

Do I care about these labels?

Not so much.

But it is nice to have a term that ties together how-I-live-my-life with the advocacy that I try to fit in, when I have time and feel up to the task.

3 responses to “micro-activism

  1. Gary September 23, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Great topic. Other types of micro-activism that come to mind are being friendly / engaging / funny / helpful / understanding / etc. (which may cultivate positive associations and extend circles of direct influence) and buying ethical products, which in addition to being non-exploitative can set an example as well as affect the economy.

  2. Deb September 23, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Yes, it does seem like we have to be the good representors, just in case we’re forming people’s ideas of what The Vegans are like at any given moment.

  3. J. Willie Williams October 27, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I am a sixties-seventies activist that has been arrested twice and will be leafleting this Saturday in my village in rural Wisconsin. But it is my sense that this is not particularly useful activism, just the kinds that I am used to.
    I have taken a look at how the blue collar right wing is active in promoting or at least maintaining their ideologies and think they could teach us lefties some things. Their activism is not that different from the activism of the post-war Civil Rights movement.
    They are ‘micro-activists’ in the sense that they often are the ones sitting on the village and county’s many volunteer boards and in less formal leadership positions. These positions would seem to have no impact on issues lefties care about: global warming, racism, sexism, etc. But it is wise to look under the hood. The volunteer coach for the middle school wrestling team can reinforce or voice disagreement with the sexist or racist things his students may utter. His opinions also resonate with the parents of the children he coaches. He may even have a say over whether they purchase gear made in sweatshops or more fairly-traded items. If you happen to love wrestling, you would probably generate as much change in this position as being out protesting or other traditional activist activities. And if you had the energy to do both – wow – your creds as the wrestling coach would increase your traditional activist impact!

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