There are certain people you get really excited about meeting. One of those people for me was Geoff Livingston. A couple of weeks ago, I finally got the chance to meet him in person. During our conversation, he referenced me as an activist.
This was another first for me. I know Geoff said it with love, but no one has ever called me that, and I found myself pondering: Do I consider myself an activist? So, I let it marinate. And I came to three conclusions:
1. I do consider myself an activist. But then comes the question, what am I advocating for? I feel the answer to this question will continue to morph, evolve, and develop with time. For the longest time and presently, I am an advocate for a cure to multiple sclerosis. I’m also an advocate for my family, for human rights, for literacy and for social good. It may be cliche, but the quote, “Stand for something, otherwise you stand for nothing.”
Well, when my name is called, I want to feel confident about where I’m standing and why. This blog helps document my approach to activism as it’s deeply rooted in the belief I have in the process of social marketing and behavior change.
2. Being considered an activist is a good thing. I consider it a badge of honor. I know the word “activist” itself carries with it many ideas and immediate connotations from a variety of people, which is all great and dandy. However, what I realized was more important, was what it meant to me. I started thinking of others that I would deem “activists.” Maybe I’m just a little too on the optimistic side, but I first thought of those like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Lurther King Jr., Nelson Mandella, and my family.
You see, I feel like I come from a lineage of activists so to speak. One, my grandfather of about five generations ago was a Cherokee Indian Chief. Another super great uncle was an abolitionist with John Brown and was actually hung with him as documented in the book Man on Fire. Though I know that one is a bit extreme, there was my great-grandpa Russel who was a teacher…A teacher who lost his job because he didn’t believe in the segregation of his classroom. To carry on the torch and encourage others to join, well, to me, that’s a good thing.
3. This, inherently, implies action. The word itself carries the word “act” in it. Are there “activists” that you don’t agree with? Yes. Are there activists with bad intentions? Yes. Are there activites who use approaches you don’t agree with? Yes. But, then, if that’s the case, act on it. =) Being an activist is what you make of it.
Find your voice. Channel your purpose….and I think you’ll find that you will want to ACT on whatever you feel called or led to do more than ever. Are you with me?
(*I hesitated writing this post, because I thought the word “activist” might lend itself to be controversial. But then I thought, hey, SB readers are pretty smart folks. They’ll have some good insights to stretch me even further on this. I’m counting on it. In the meantime, thanks Geoff for the compliment!)
flickr credit: RockChalk Jayhawk, John Rover