I commit to working for justice, for free, on my personal time, with my personal means.
I commit to believe that good actions HAVE an impact, whether we see, feel or hear it afterwards, every action has a consequence, it's a law.
I commit to upgrade my hope for better conditions wherever I might work, volunteer or even recreate (leisure).
By why me?
Am I not better off working towards a private business domain to ensure a wealthy and stable income future myself and future family?
First of all, activism is not necessarily volunteering or being in an NGO. It's as simple as doing something good for someone/something else, for free or for less than it would usually cost, so as to make a situation closer to RESOLVED; as in NOT as problematic as it was initially.
Now let's get to MY why, it might resonate with you, it probably will since you're reading this on this plateform.
I've been in the civil society for 2 years now, volunteering time, effort and money for a better education in Tunisia. It sounds big, but in practice, it's less dramatically heroic as it sounds.
My NGO has a project which in plain simple, chronologically ordered steps consists of:
- Hiring 15/20 volunteers
- Training them on civic education
- Picking 3/5 local public schools (limited human/material capacities)
- Teaching a number up to 20-25 students per school civic education for 2h/Week (using a participative FUN approach through which they learn the basics of good citizen practices)
and that's it.
Not that complicated or intimidating as it sounds, right?
and yet, it's the beggining of what MIGHT be an educational revolution. Every good action starts small, then scales up.
Okay, what does that have to do with my introduction? This blog is about WHY I chose activism DESPITE its inconvenience to my personal wallet.
My personal experience throughout these 2 years, the negative side of activism is:
- Time consuming: Not less than 5h a week dedicated to this commitment.
- Frustrating: Working with diverse background/age/mindsets isn't always satisfying, it can put your patience under hard tests at times, because you're all volunteers, these people are literally working for/with you FOR FREE, it implies that the Human resource practices have to be way more flexible and soft, which results sometimes in un-finished work, un-respected deadlines and un-qualifiable 'livrables'. If you have a leading role within the project, it means you assume from the start a workload that is portrayed in this equation:
Your workload = Your individual workload * N members' individual workload.
N=each potentially non-competent volunteer.
- Exasperating: When you put so much efforts, and see how it boils down sometimes only to 20% of its expected results because of so many external variables, you feel like a sand builder. Being in the civil society also means being more in touch with the real problems of your local community/society, add that to you preminent 'Want to help' intial mindset that GOT YOU into the circle at first, it pains you to see all what can be fixed, but you are one person with 24h/day, resolving to your own limitations is be a hard self-talk and pragmatic surrender.
- Angering: Believe it or not, while you're out there busting your ass to do good, some asshole is sitting comfortably in their comfort zone, criticizing you for: Being corrupt (Foreign funding), Incompetence (Not palpable results), Arrogant (The hero-syndrome) and the list can goes on... Being an acitivist means that you have empathy towards stupidy and arrogance, and a firm unshakable belief that even these people deserve to be helped (hard to swallow, but very helpful).
With all that said, it is only HUMAN and NORMAL to feel like giving up sometimes, lose the activist hat and move on to corporate, private business or any domain that is more profitable and less stressful.
A lot of people make this choice from the start, does it mean they're wrong? Absolutely NOT. We need all of the work to make this world function.
However, problems are everywhere and anywhere you're ready to look and observe. Who is gonna fight back the injustices? Who will hold back the tyrants, corrupted and unjustly powerful forces in this world?
Someone who cares about justice not because they like to show off their heroism, because they get so friggin mad seeing the shit and not doing anything about it.
Someone who doesn't find meaning in his well-paid job and would like to practice the art of helping.
Someone who is fiersome and honest, because you need both to make a legitimate activist, fieresome with the evil, honest with himself and his cause.
Thinking that if you don't do it, someone else will.
Here's how this idea is both an antidote and a motivator.
- Antidote to Naricissism: Yes, we are over 8 Billion people on this planet Earth, it will NOT go out of service if YOUR humanitarian services aren't provided, that's just a good post-it to keep in the back of your head for humility's sake.
- Motivator: That sentence implies a question; How bad do you want to #Help/Fix/Better situations/people?
How bad does the economical corruption bothers you? How much of your time do you dedicate to understanding your ecosystem's problems? How do you feel after hearing good news about initiatives and reforms? Do you secretly wish you participated in that upgrade?
These are, to me, the kind of questions I ask myself to check if I'm doing this for the right reasons, you know, when I start to enjoy the occasional free coffee breaks and hotel stays a little more than I should (Honestly admitted).
Then, there is an even more decisive question I ask myself, especially at this time of my life, where my energy is more sollicited for work to ensure an income and becoming financially independent:
What are the accomplishements I'd be proud of if I die in a year?
I would absolutely not care whether I have 5dt or 100.000.000dt on my bank account, but I will surely have a well rested heart for putting a smile on 5 kids' faces, for helping creating a long-term income for 1 family, for re-writing a law that would've caused harm and unjusticies for even 20 people.
Luckily, your impact goes beyond that.
In the civil society, we have to work with reports and measure the indicators of a project's output.
It's erronous to assume that we can REALISTICALLY measure everything, and sticking to that cold-result-oriented procedure is demotivating.
If you do it with love, and this is really not a cheesy line I'm putting here to create a warm ending to this blog, it's proven, you know it, I know it, we all know it, we (we as humans) haven't agreed as to what to call it. Some call it love, energy, intention... the list goes on, but bottom line, you're doing this for free, so better be something you LOVE to do, something you CARE about and ENJOY seeing getting fixed. Even if it's for personal reasons, what's wrong with that? Nobody has been designated Morality Police over your intentions !
All in all. I commit to civil work, with love, for as long as I can, because If I don't, I'd hate myself for it.
So thank you I Watch Organization for bringing 1000 Tunisians with the same mindset in one place to remind me that:
- I'm not alone
- It matters
- It CAN get better, and with enough resilience, It WILL.
Until next blog,
be well fellow ACTIVIST, or fellow GOOD citizen !