Posted by Mickey Martin on February 18th, 2011
This story first ran in West Coast Cannabis magazine in 2009, but is a good resource for ANY DAY….
10 Things YOU Can Do To Be a Better Activist
by Mickey Martin
Activism is alive and well here in America. With the recent election of Barack Obama we saw firsthand the power that grassroots organizing and activism can have on our world. The following are ten easy things you can do to get fired up and ready to go. Now let’s go change the world.
1. Get Educated: Nothing is more disturbing than an activist who has no idea what they are talking about. I am reminded of the P.U.M.A. uprising that happened after Hillary lost the Democratic primary. All over the news were these ill informed “activists” who were torn to shreds, as they could not provide any reasonable answers to obvious questions. Although funny to watch, it was disturbing to know that these poor folks marched blindly into battle armed with untruth and misinformation. They simply had not done their homework.
Cannabis activism is no different than normal politics. We must be armed with the truth and be knowledgeable about the facts to make our message clear. We need to know the history of our cause to know how to approach the future. We should all educate ourselves on the cannabis plant, current affairs, and the legal and social issues that surround cannabis. There are many good books written on the subject and innumerable sites dedicated to cannabis studies and activism. Do some reading. The Governor of California has just publicly stated that we should be open to a public debate about cannabis. Are you ready for the debate?
2. Talk to People. They Want to Listen: The time has never been better for cannabis discussions. The media is ripe with coverage on the subject, community leaders are more vocal than ever on the topic, and there is a certain buzz to the discussion. Whether it is a friend, a co-worker, or a mother on your child’s baseball team there is always an opportunity to win over the hearts and minds of others. The only way to combat decades of misinformation is to dispel the myths about cannabis one conversation at a time. Never fear having an educated discussion about something you are passionate about. Activism begins with those you are closest too. If we all discussed openly our beliefs and values surrounding cannabis use with those we interact with regularly, there would be a much greater understanding in society.
3. Join A Group Already: There is no shortage of organizations dedicated to cannabis activism. Being a part of a group of like-minded individuals is empowering and we grow as individuals by these experiences. Groups such as ASA, NORML, MPP, SSDP, and the multitudes of community based activist and policy groups provide a forum to be a part of a larger vision for change. No matter what your passion is, whether social, political, environmental, or economic, there is most likely a group working towards that. If there is not an established group working on your personal vision, then start one. Seek out people to share your experiences and values with. A group of committed people will always be more powerful than the most committed individual, so get involved.
4. Organize Your Peeps: Taking the time to organize the people in your life to best help your activist goals is imperative. People have individual skills and assets that they can bring to your experience. Organizing these folks to be ready when a need arises helps to create a more fluid activist response. Identifying who may be able and willing to help with art, planning, or public speaking can make even the most harried demonstrations into professional and effective actions. Our human resources are the most valuable tools in the activist toolbox, so learn to use them wisely.
5. Understand Both Sides of the Argument: The only way an activist can make an effective statement with their actions is to understand completely the view of the opposition. When we can see the world through the eyes of our enemies we are able to undermine their fears and aggressions with a message that makes sense. Understanding more clearly where adversity is coming from allows us to make calculated steps in how to create opportunities for change. Learn to think like those who oppose you and you can begin to find methods of changing that way of thinking.
6. Learn From Past Successes and Failures: Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” When planning activist actions it is helpful to look back at what worked in the past, and what did not, to strategize effectively. Throughout history there have been many activist movements that produced desired results. Using these lessons to our advantage can help us to make the progress we seek in our movement.
7. Put Your Money (or Time) Where Your Mouth Is: Quit talking about activism like it is someone else’s responsibility. It is easy for people to complain about what is not being done, but committing time and resources is the only way to really get things done. If we all gave a small percentage to this cause we would be miles a head of the game. Buy an eighth that is five bucks cheaper and put the change in the ASA jar. Buy some stamps and spend an afternoon writing letters to community leaders. Donate a day of your life to helping spread the word about cannabis freedom. It doesn’t really matter what you do to help, as long as you are doing something.
8. Networking, Networking, And Networking: In this digital age it has never been easier to network with people. Whether you Twitter, Facebook, or belong to email lists, it is important to get the message out to all of our various networks. Action planning begins with an idea that is spread from network to network and eventually there is a large contingency of support for the cause. Post a link. Text message your entire contacts list. Call people that can help us realize our ultimate goal. We are the ones we have been waiting for and it is up to us to network our message effectively.
9. Get Off Your Couch: With wireless Internet and cell phones that can do amazing things there is a great deal of activist work that can be done from the couch. But sometimes nothing beats feet on the ground and looking people in the eye to ask for their support. Get out to a rally or protest. Hand out flyers at a farmers market. Organize a local bike ride to raise awareness. Attend a city council meeting. Getting out into the community to directly spread our activist message is necessary and effective. Plus, people like to see your smiling face, so get going.
10. Teach Others: One activist creates another. Taking the time to make sure those around you understand the importance of their actions and the importance of the movement creates a community of educated and responsible citizens that are capable of changing the world. Take a person under your wing and share your knowledge and experiences with them. In this way we nurture the future of community activism and ensure that the people will always have a voice in the process. Our movement is growing rapidly and we must ensure that all members are given the right tools to help in the effort. The apprentice shall one day become the master.
Activism takes courage and dedication. These are some things that we can all do to become better activists and continue our journey towards justice, morality, and freedom. Our individual actions have the ability to make the world a better place. No matter to what degree activism is a part of your life, taking the necessary steps can be essential to your actions being effective. Please do your part to help us fix the world and help us to restore order to the universe. You are an activist the moment you begin to be active. Is this your moment?