What does it mean to be an activist, or to live your life by engaging in conscious activism? You don’t need to storm offices or gather by the thousands with picket signs if that’s not your thing. There are plenty of ways for all of us to engage in our world and make it a better place.
The Earthways Foundation defines conscious activism as “engagement in the world that expresses and reveals our most profound understanding of the nature of reality.”
Lila Watson, an Australian Aboriginal and activist, was a proponent for conscious activism and believed it can be sustainable, effective, and joyful. “It takes the approach of support for self in service of continued sustainable engagement in social change work,” Watson said. “We believe that truly conscious action starts within, and comes from radical self- awareness which asks us to know our passion and strength as well as our wounds, limitations, privilege and bias. Without self-awareness or work in the world risks being an unconscious playing out of unhealthy dynamics such as a savior/ saved or colonizer/ oppressed dichotomies. We define conscious activism and service as coming from a place of solidarity, mutuality and respect.”
To engage in this service, there are several means for beginners. Here are five ways to get involved in conscious activism – no protesting necessary:
1. Support organizations that engage in conscious activism
Lend your support, be it financially or through sharing the campaign with friends and educating others, via the EarthWays Foundation, which has Conscious Activism Centers. You can also find a local chapter of an animal rights or food security activism organization. Reach out to the group of your choice and ask how you can lend a hand.
2. Don’t eat animal products
It’s hard to remain a meat eater after you’ve seen video footage of animal slaughter and the conditions in factory farms. It’s also difficult to keep eating meat knowing just how unhealthy so much of it can be, and how healthfully life could be without it as well. Most of us have a journey behind choosing our plant-based diet, something that gave us awareness. Knowing the truth behind how your food is produced is a great way to get into conscious activism, and use your knowledge to help others as well.
3. Avoid circuses and SeaWorld
Don’t support businesses that make a profit by exploiting animals, keeping them in captivity, and forcing them to do tricks for entertainment. Though the animals may seem like they love performing just as much as the humans love watching, there’s nothing fun about the conditions animals face while being held captive. If a family member or friend suggests taking a vacation to SeaWorld, or going for an afternoon show at a circus, take the opportunity to explain why we shouldn’t support those practices. Other countries have banned wild animals in circuses, and it’s time we follow suit.
4. Switch to sustainable clothing
Do you know how many gallons of water it took to produce your t-shirt? Do you have any idea how much energy the factory uses to print the design on your clothes, or to dye them a certain color? One way to practice conscious activism is to take a look at how you get your clothes and if you could be more sustainable about the process. For example, instead of buying a standard polyester shirt from a big-box retailer, try bringing your old clothes to a clothing swap so you’re not purchasing new material, but recycling an old one. Also, check out this guide to buying sustainable, fair-trade, and cruelty-free clothing.
5. Re-consider where you shop
That large-scale, national grocery chain may have everything you need as a plant-based eater. Many large stores now have a natural foods section, organic produce, and vegan snacks. However, try supporting the smallest, more local venture, if you can, such as your local farmer’s market, a family-owned café, or a co-op. Keeping your money within the local community is a great way to help your neighborhood or city thrive and flourish.
With these tips, you will begin to see that you, too, can be an activist!
Image source: UnicornsandPopsicles / Creative Commons