Social activism: the good, the bad and the ugly[quote]“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Gandhi[/quote]
I’m a big fan of peaceful social activism. Having marched in the 1970s in opposition to the Vietnam War, I’m proud that my generation helped end it.
We have even more opportunity today, with the advent of online petitions that are getting lots of results, fast.
Ugly social activism
But there is also un-social activism that causes me concern. I’m thinking specifically of Spike Lee’s ill-advised re-tweet of the supposed address of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Lee re-tweeted someone else’s tweet of the address. But it was the wrong address, and an innocent couple who resided there had to flee their home and move to a hotel. It is fortunate that no vigilantes fired shots into their home.
What was Lee thinking? Apparently he wasn’t thinking. Even if the address was correct, his reckless act could not have led to anything good. He was promoting the exact type of vigilantism that Zimmerman is accused of. Lee ended up apologizing and compensating the couple. But, whew, that was close.
After Lee’s re-tweet, Roseanne Barr tweeted the correct address of Zimmerman’s parents, and still makes no apologies for it.
All these actions do is create confusion and bad energy. There is enough of that going around. Celebrities have an obligation not to add to it.
Good social activism
Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing. So I would say, act responsibly or don’t act at all. Remember the guideline that before you speak [or email or tweet], ask yourself it it’s true, kind and necessary.
And before you forward someone else’s tweet or email, verify its accuracy. Probably 90% of the forwarded emails we get these days are inaccurate. You can check them out first at snopes.com — the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.
The greatest forces for positive change in the last century have been the peacemakers:
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Mother Theresa,
- Nelson Mandela, and
are prime examples.
They have made an enormous impact on the world through peaceful means. None of them would have tweeted someone’s home address unless it was to send them flowers.
The wonderful tools at our disposal
Change.org is an online petition site founded in February 2007. In its short history, it has accomplished a great deal. Here are the results just a few of their petitions have achieved:
- Bank of America cancelled its plans to institute a $5 monthly debit card fee
- Verizon dropped its online payment fee
- Stopped the foreclosure on the home of Helen Bailey, 78-year old grandmother and former civil rights activist
- Persuaded Major League Baseball teams to make anti-homophobia videos
- 1-800 flowers now offers fair trade blooms
- Universal Studios incorporated environmental messages on its The Lorax website
- USDA will now offer school districts a choice of beef with or without “pink slime”
- South African Parliament agreed to establish a National Task Team to end “corrective rape”
- Bank of America opposed a North Carolina amendment on the ballot to ban gay marriage
And so much more. You can search their site by topic to find petitions you would like to support.
If you log on to sign a petition, I advise you create an account and set your email notification settings within change.org to avoid getting inundated with emails.
Signing their petitions can give you a powerful voice, and is so much easier than driving across the state to join a march as I did in the 1970s.
Thank you for being
In the Seneca language there is a phrase used as a greeting; “Nyah Weh Skenno.” As a follower of my blog, I would like to greet you with that phrase. Here is the translation:[quote] “Thank you for being alive in the here and the now and not adding to the confusion of the world.”[/quote]
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Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com