Here are some ideas to consider that may be helpful for radical organizing or for surviving a Thanksgiving dinner with your family, humbly offered by some of the Slingshot Scoundrels (Hear emoji)
Do Research. Issues are multifaceted. Often we don’t invest the time to look into the arguments opposing what we are advocating. It doesn’t hurt to understand these views! And sometimes they are substantial because shit is complicated. The issues on our radar today most likely predate our own existence. There are people already working on solving any given problem. Find them.
Know your enemies. Know your friends. Respect for where people are coming from is a rarity. Maintaining genuine curiosity about other’s perspectives can be hard work! When we get lazy and make assumptions, we often create unproductive conflict and misunderstandings. Not everyone knows what you know and sees what you see. Understanding is an ongoing process for all of us, a direction we head in, and not a final destination we arrive at.
Treat everyone as a potential ally. It’s not easy to set aside our strident views long enough to engage with people who think differently from us. Making change usually means organizing with others, so relationships and connections are key. Alienating people from our work is the quickest way to assure failure. That is to say, patience and humility are essential features of successful organizing.
Don’t Get Caught. Avoid making mistakes that will get you snarled in the legal system. This applies to things done in the heat of the moment as well as much later when things have cooled down. It’s not worth it to get bragging rights or revel in past achievements. Don’t talk about illegal activity. Don’t write about it in emails, texts. Don’t post videos or photos of illegal acts.
Know Your Enemy Pt.2. When you hear “Don’t support corporations,” this also means in the insidious way we become reliant on corporations that try and shape social reality. “Google it” has become synonymous with “look it up”. Challenging them is not only about withholding our money; let’s not hand them our energy, attention, our creative endeavors either. Ask yourself: How else are we giving away our agency and independence to those ugly corporations? How do we use the tools available without unwittingly becoming tools in the hands of capitalists? And most important, what networks & resources out there that are not corporate that need uplifting?
Don’t burn out. Don’t get bitter. Don’t be afraid to act. DON’T GIVE UP.
Make your resistance sustainable — one-legged stools don’t work. Pace yourself and make sure to keep your life outside of activism healthy. That might look like spending time & energy with family, friends, and the other facets of your world instead of being committed 150% to solving society’s issues. It’s not useful to think in slogans. They may be a good rallying cry, but they make people of conscience seem wooden and two dimensional in actual conversations. That said, this thought does have some currency: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
This slogan references the martyr complex that seeks to go at it alone and not work with others to solve the issues of the day. Find allies, build trust, practice solidarity and commitment to each others growth as thinkers and doers.
The social issues we engage with can change us in good and bad ways. A lifetime of struggling against an oppressor may make us part of what we struggle against. In some ways, our resistance feeds these beasts. We can over-identify with challenging the status quo and forget that creating something better takes even more effort and insight. This is why wise activists direct some of their energy towards creating what we are FOR. We likely won’t reach that ideal place we are advocating for, and the horizon may seem forever just out of reach, but by being engaged, we can keep walking toward a new reality.