What is activism
Activism is the efforts to change society in some way, usually because of injustice, inequality, or oppression. Forms of activism include: writing letters, signing petitions, making art, running or contributing to a political campaign, rallies, marches, protests, strikes, sit-ins, boycotting, and civil disobedience. When collective action is purposeful, organized, and sustained over a period of time it becomes known as a social movement.
History is full of many examples of unfair treatments of certain groups, inequality in the law, or oppression and subjugation in tyrannical societies. Activists were necessary to bring about social change by raising awareness of important issues, and taking direct action to challenge the dominant paradigms.
Historical examples of activism
Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, was the movement to end slavery. There were attempts to end slavery by both Louis X of France in the 1300’s, and King Charles I of Spain in the 1500’s, but the most famous example of was the historic movement in the Americas and Western Europe to end the Atlantic slave trade, beginning the 1700s and ending in the 1800s. It ultimately culminated in the American Civil War, with estimates of 600,000 to 1 million casualties. By 1865 the U.S. had finally abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. constitution.
The Civil Rights movement in the United States began in 1954 and ended in 1968. The goal was for African-American people to gain equal rights under the law. It famously used non-violent protests and civil disobedience to achieve this goal. Strategies included boycotts, sit-ins, and protests marches. Occasionally they were attacked by the police and racists white people, but the activists chose to not fight back. Eventually the movement got political and financial support from labor unions, religious groups, and some white politicians, like Lyndon B. Johnson, and as a result, it helped to get federal laws and two amendments to the Constitution passed. If these activists had not taken action, and the movement had not formed, then African-American people would still be discriminated against under the law today.
Why it is important to be active
Every year there are still billions of animals being killed, tested on, exploited, caged, used for sport, and tortured for fun, and none of it is necessary anymore. Unfortunately, going vegan is no longer enough; we need to all become activists too, if we are going to improve things for animals.
In addition to the ethical arguments for veganism, the environmental and health arguments are also really important, and through activism we can raise further awareness of these issues.
There is an analogy to explain the importance of activism, which involves a man beating a dog with a stick, and another man who witnesses it has three options:
1) Join in and beat the dog together -> Nonveganism
2) Refuse to join in -> Veganism
3) Actively try to save the dog -> Vegan activism
This analogy is explained in further detail in Earthling Ed’s 2017 speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2igULtwaVA4&t=59s
In 2019 the moral baseline is vegan activism, and less than 1% of people have so far achieved this. Fortunately, this number is expected to grow in the coming years, possibly at an exponential rate.
Ways to be an activist
- Start a blog
- Write an article
- Make art (music, pictures, poems)
- Like and share videos
- Talk to others
- Make and share vegan recipes
- Create films/documentaries
- Go to demonstrations
- Go on marches
- Attend vigils
- Join protests
- Support sanctuaries
- Rescue animals
The Science of Social Change – www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWHqJpcgjk0
Dr Melanie Joy – Sustainable Vegan Activism – www.youtube.com/watch?v=36XFiTY3SAo
“What can I do as one small individual” Q&A with Philip Wollen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA3F4_KRL5M
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
“The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?” ~ Bob Marley
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” ~ Malcolm X
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.