“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller
Activism in general is an important catalyst for positive social change in the world. The rising of people all over the world has influenced socio-political policies, shifts in cultural practices and norms, and much more. However, much of the activism that we see around us is a kind of “angry activism”, incited by hate, rage and anger. This kind of activism, although sometimes effective in the short-term, is less sustainable and effective in the long-term.
Adolescence is generally a time of disillusionment for most of us; when we, crudely speaking, wake up to find out how shitty the world really is and how little we can do about it (or so we think…). Empowering young people to rise up to activism, means cultivating together the power to become more and more a cause and creator rather than effect or victim of our life situation. It means to take control into our own hands, first on the personal level and then on the social and even global level.
The importance of Youth Activism is, therefore, twofold: catalyzing positive changes in the young people’s lives and societies, and also redirecting the youth’s passionate and sometimes angry energies caused by disillusionment into a positive channel.
In the NCT program, we propose an approach of Positive Activism (which can also be called Constructive Activism), which we define as the practice of “being the change we want to see in the world”, as Gandhi phrased it so beautifully. Though this is arguably Gandhi’s most famous quote – what does that actually mean?
First it means that we cannot “wash blood with blood” – we cannot seek peace while cultivating more hate and separation. We do this in many forms: by seeing others as “bad” or “not like us”, by judging others, hating, seeking revenge, blaming, shaming and more.
Positive Activism is deeply rooted in nonviolence and compassion. It recognizes that there are no bad people – only people who have had bad things done to them. Therefore, for example, the corporation owner/politician that I am demonstrating against and the police officer trying to arrest me are not my enemies. They are a part of me. I can always identify “another myself” in them.
When we practice Positive Activism, we become less occupied with fighting against the existing structure, but more focused on offering positive alternatives.
You can read more about Positive Activism in the Background Information Sheets section of the full NCT program.
“Light will not prevail over darkness, as long as we ignore the simple truth that instead of fighting the darkness we need to increase the light.”
|Exercise for Facilitators: What is it that you would most want to change in the world? Try to narrow it down to a particular trait or traits such as: racism, hate, violence, greed etc. Now close your eyes and look deeply within yourself: where do you recognize these traits in yourself? When have you acted this way, either presently or in the past? Be gentle, the point is not to denigrate ourselves for what we see inside, but merely to shed a light on some of our shadow parts. Once you have recognized a few of these traits in yourself, breathe in deeply and say to yourself “I forgive myself for having these traits in me. I love myself as I am, there is no need to change a thing”The point of this exercise is to shift from a fear perspective to a loving perspective – we are so used to hating things in ourselves, wishing we could only change them; we are afraid that if we love ourselves as we are, we will never change. In fact the opposite is true: only love changes everything, because it doesn’t try to change a thing.|