Learning how to adapt your activism to suit your needs and achieve the greatest impact
If you have followed the School of Gentle Protest over the last three weeks, you will know that activism doesn’t have to be loud and angry in order to be effective. There is no one true way of being an activist: in the end, it’s all about making a positive change, and we have a whole range of tools to do that, from loud and public to quiet and intimate. The key is to choose the right tool for the particular issue we want to tackle.
Sometimes, it will be most effective to get out on the streets with hundreds or thousands of people, while at other times a less public and more gentle form of activism will be the better choice. A handful of people can be enough to spark the change we want to see, and if done properly, even the smallest, almost invisible actions can have a massive impact – often more so than hours of shouting and holding up signs with angry slogans (regardless of the number of exclamation marks and capital letters used).
The reason for that is simple: when we are confronted with anger and opposition, we automatically switch into fight mode ourselves, or we just run away with our hands over our ears. When we are approached with respect and gentleness, though, it is much harder to do that. Just think about iconic peaceful activists like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, who changed the world with their gentle and courageous campaigns. We can follow their example by embracing a quiet, considerate form of activism. To show you how to add another beautiful and strong form of activism to your activist’s tool-kit, this week’s lesson at the School of Gentle Protest is all about Quiet Activism: what it is, how we can do it, and what it can do (spoiler: it might be much more than you might think!).
Headteacher Sarah Corbett is joined by guest professor Catherine Howarth, CEO of the charity ShareAction, who will explore the concept of shareholder activism as a form of quiet but extraordinarily powerful activism available to all of us. ShareAction’s goal is to create a sustainable, responsible investment systems which can act as a force for positive change in the world, and shareholder activism plays an important part in that, whether that means stitching handkerchiefs, writing letters or simply asking the right questions. It is the work done by organisations such as ShareAction that provides the structure and support to ensure that issues which are flagged up through the more mainstream methods of protest, continue to be addressed, rather than returning the shadows unresolved.
The words ‘CEO’, ‘investment’ and ‘shareholder’ can seem quite scary and daunting for people who don’t usually have them in their everyday life, but don’t worry: they are just words. You don’t have to be an expert in finance and economics for Quiet Activism, whether it’s shareholder activism or something different. All you need is a cause and the courage to take action.