Am I Just Being a Slacktivist?
Have you heard that term before? "Slacktivist"?
It's the French flag over our Facebook profile pictures after the Paris attacks.
It's the #prayfortexas during the hurricanes.
It's the stickers slapped on our bumpers promoting causes.
It's checking in to Standing Rock on Facebook from our comfortable homes and lives.
It's a whole lot of talk and not a whole lot of action.
And I fear I've fallen prey to it all.
Because here's the thing: I care deeply about justice. I'm an Enneagram One and at my very core is this burning desire for things to be right and better and perfect and okay. I feel all the things, and get fired up easily, and weep just as easily when the headlines bring news of yet another tragedy.
I am angry about racism.
I am angry about guns taking innocent lives.
I am angry about babies in wombs not being given a chance at life.
I am angry about the police who abuse their power and aren't held accountable.
I am angry about talk of walls being built and Dreamers being kicked out and refugees being refused a home.
I am angry about whole cities without clean water. (My own frozen pipes taught me in 3 days how utterly disruptive and aggravating it can be to not have access to this basic need. It infuriated me, and it was just 3 short days.)
I am angry about how many precious children are stuck in a broken system without parents or caregivers to love them well.
I am angry about so-called leaders calling beautiful people ugly names and perpetuating hate.
I am angry.
I am grieved.
I am fired up.
What am I doing about it?
I fear I've become a slacktivist, too.
Sure, I give money to sponsor a child in El Salvador, and I write her letters often. Sure, I support Preemptive Love in efforts to make a difference around the world in the lives of refugees. Sure, I buy clothing and jewelry and gifts from organizations who are doing good in the world.
But really, what am I doing?
I'm tweeting and reposting and commenting online, but am I giving my time? I'm sending a few bucks out each month, but am I really investing? I'm talking the talk, but am I following it up with action? Am I getting my hands dirty doing the hard work of reconciliation and restoration? Or am I just retweeting empty words? I'm reading words from diverse authors, but am I having conversations across the table from people who don't look like me? When I look at my life and everyone looks like me (at church, in my Christian workplace, in my friend group and my family, etc) and believes basically what I believe, I realize I'm truly in a bubble I must actively work to step out of.
The giving is good. But it is not enough.
The praying is good. But it is not enough.
The reading is good. But it is not enough.
The awareness is good. But it is not enough.
There must be action.
There must be followthrough.
There must be commitment and involvement and movement and intentionality, and I have failed on all fronts.
This, I think, is step one. Admitting my own failure to follow through. This is not shaming (of myself, or of you) but a humble admission and a true repentance of my own lack. I have proclaimed to be a follower of Christ, and yet I've sat idly by, thinking my words would somehow be enough to meet the need all around me. I have passed the needy man on the side of the road, stuck in pride and selfishness, never stopping to be a good Samaritan. I have stayed so comfortable in my white privilege and my comfortable Christian circles, and I have stayed away from everything "other." I have not loved the least of these. I have not done enough. I have not looked like, lived like, or loved like Jesus Christ.
This is admitting I don't quite know how to do more. I'm not sure what it looks like to be a true activist in this world. I think the reading and following of diverse people is a step, and I'm being changed since taking it. But I don't think that's enough. I think sending money to organizations around the world is a step, and I'm better for taking it, but I don't think it's enough, either. Thoughts and prayers are great, but without actual action accompanying them, I think they fall short.
I think it has to get small.
It feels opposite and almost wrong at first to think smaller, but if I'm trying to solve every big problem in the world, I'll burn out in seconds and I'll help no one in the process. I am not God and my capabilities and capacities are not endless. But if I can zoom in a bit more, and focus my eyes on the need right in front of me, in my very community, on the very streets I drive to work, in the very neighborhood I call home, I think that will be a start. I think it will be a better start, and a better path to take.
The time has come for action. Real, true, committed, (scary and humbling and uncomfortable) action.
I don't have the game plan all mapped out.
But I am starting now, here, today.
I have a repentant, grieving heart. I have hands I'm opening to the Spirit's moving. I have the gifts and talents the Lord has given me, and I want to use them. I have time in my day, a little money in the budget, and a newfound willingness to get dirty doing the hard work of change. I have a flame within me that I pray the Lord will continue kindling into a greater fire for His Kingdom come on this earth.
Today, I'm starting here:
- Praying. What is the Lord saying to me? Where is the Spirit leading me? I want to listen to Him more and follow faithfully where I feel Him prompting.
- Doing research. What organizations are doing this work of justice and reconciliation and restoration in my community? What causes can I support? Where can I volunteer my time? How can I align my interests and giftings with needs around me?
- Asking questions. Who do I know that is already involved? Do they need my help? Do they know of others who are looking for support? Have they served somewhere, and can I join them?
- Diversifying my inputs. Where in my life have bubbles formed? How can I step out of comfort zones and echo chambers to let in new opinions, perspectives, wisdom, and knowledge? What voices am I hearing too much of? Not enough of? Where can I mix things up?
- Opening up. My heart (prayer, time in the Word), my mind (books, news sources, Twitter), my ears (podcasts, sermons), my hands and my calendar (volunteering, serving), my spirit (to The Spirit).
Will you join me?
Let us be activists, not slacktivists. Let us put our money where our mouths have been, and let's get dirty doing the work. Let us put our boots on the ground, our hands in the mud, our hearts on the line. Let's get serious.
It's time to start actually making a difference.
Let's talk about this, friends. What are you doing to be a true activist? How are you combatting slacktivism? How can we do more?
I'm already loving:
- Preemptive Love
- 20 Awesome Christian Women to Follow on Social Media (so many diverse women featured here that I'm glad to be listening to)
- The books I've read from diverse authors so far, and the many more that I'll be reading this year.
- This article: "Challenging “Slacktivism”: Activism On Social Media Is Not Enough"
- This book, specifically: The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege
- This statement from Richmond pastors after Charlottesville
- 4 Ways Anyone Can Fight for Justice on Darling Magazine
I've recently heard about and will be diving into:
- The New Activist podcast (heard about it on That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs)
- Be the Bridge with Latasha Morrison (heard about at IF:gathering last year)
- A few books: The New Jim Crow, Just Mercy, Tattoos on the Heart
- Truth. Racial Healing, and Transformation-Richmond