It takes more than a single action to make a movement. And, who’s to say YOU won’t launch, organize, and carry out a series of effective nonviolent actions that build into a set of powerful campaigns that form the arc of a world-changing movement? Find a couple friends, dust off your strategic thinking caps, and start to discuss and plan how to make change in a deliberate way.
Many of us are stuck in the same old ruts of showing up at one protest after another, wondering if what we’re doing makes any difference. We look to heads of organizations, hoping they’ll come up with a plan of action that makes sense. Too often, we see the same worn-out “call your senators” routine, or the usual tactics of protesting. We forget that movements are made up of the stepping-stones of campaigns, which use a whole series of actions to achieve their goals.
As Robert Swan said, “The greatest danger to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” This is true not only for the planet, but also for our communities, our families, and all of the social justice issues we face. With hindsight, we look at our heroes of nonviolent history and they loom like giants in our minds. Little do we know that M.K. Gandhi was once an awkward and shy lawyer who trembled at the thought of public speaking. He took a step, and then another, followed by a thousand more, and along that path a movement was built. We can also take the first step in our own situations.
Sit down and think about the problem or injustice you face. What keeps it in place? What supports its existence? Who are the people who lend their time, skills, hands, work, labor, experience, power, clout, and brains to keeping that injustice going? How might you use nonviolent action to remove the support of your friends, neighbors, community, coworkers from the injustice? How might you use protest and persuasion and outreach to connect with wider circles of people who perpetuate the problem? How might you interrupt and intervene in the business-as-usual attitude of the injustice that you face?
These are the questions we can all ask as we begin to address the problems we face with strategy and attention. Take heart! Across the country and around the world, thousands of ordinary, extraordinary people like you are sitting down in kitchens, living rooms, coffee shops, backyards, pool halls, common rooms, and churches to work on these same questions. The nonviolent movements for change are growing in size, strength, and strategic wisdom. You are a part of this change.
Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is a trainer and social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. www.riverasun.com