What is activism?


What is the heart of activism? The heart of performance? Is it in the heart of ourselves?

I feel we all have our own answers for this. I'm still exploring mine. At this point I could say that for me it involves doing my best to live my truth which is an ever-evolving reflective process where I seek out what is real for me. How I move, act, perform, live, be, reflect that knowing, is also an ongoing challenging reflective and lively process.

In the words of Gabrielle Roth;

"It demands listening to the beat of your own heart; finding your own rhythm; singing your own blues; writing your own story; acting out your own fantasies; and seeing your own visions."
(Roth, 1989:26-27)

In the words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer;

"What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?"
(Oriah Mountain Dreamer, 2001: xii)

I can also describe activism in terms of it being a vision. You have a vision in mind and your practices work towards this vision. In some ways, you become that vision, you embody and experience it. That for me, in this moment, is the heart of activism - the embodiment.

How do you embody your truth? What does it feel like? How does it look?

In one respect, activism is action. Whether sitting, standing, shouting, it can all be seen as action. We are all act-ionists, we are all act-ivists. So, the bigger question is - what type of activist do you want to be?

"How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow that impulse, to just let go and dance?"
(Oriah Mountain Dreamer, 2001: xii)
"We're all artists, creating our lives and the worlds we live in, and the optimum choice is for the full palette of the emotional range. To befriend our feelings we can dance them, sing them, act them, write them, and paint them, we can creatively explore and celebrate them"
(Roth, 1989: 65).

A part of activism is also about honoring the impulse you feel inside. That gut feeling. That call within. That tingle. That desire. That excitement. All of these and ever more is what may allure you to create change in your world and the world of others.

People single me out for being an activist, but I always say that the impulse is inborn - it just needs to be nurtured. It starts when you're little, and you see some kids being unkind to another kid on the bus. Maybe you do something. Maybe you don't. But there was that little hint in your brain that something was wrong, that you weren't comfortable with the situation.
Throughout your life, you have the opportunity to learn from that experience, to react to that little voice inside of you that says something has crossed your moral bottom line, to ignore what others are telling you to do and honor your impulse. The very core of being an activist is being true to yourself.
- Susan Sarandon