“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
“In the most literal of terms, ‘armchair activism‘ is any sort of activist message, cause, or effort you publicly put forward and support…from your couch/bed/comfort of your own home without having to physically leave your space to advocate and get involved” Dylan Manderlink “Twenty Something Living”
The advent of social media has meant that we have an ever-growing army of armchair activists. You only have to scroll through the endless posts (rants actually) condemning to an eternal misery in hell those who let off New Year’s Eve fireworks to get an idea of what I mean. Everyone had an opinion on the matter, yes, even me!
It’s a new year. The Silly Season is fast coming to an end and we are once again faced with the “reality” of life. The shops already filled with “Back to School” advertising as our Matrics are hopefully celebrating the culmination of 12 years of school, ready to move onto the next chapter in their lives and many wonder how they are going to get through what feels like the longest month of the year with pay-day very far away!
Mahatma Gandhi’s quotation is a well-known, often used one. Be the change you want to see in the world. The reality is the change does start with us, but it needs to be practical, active change, not rants, threats, curses, racial slurs and worse across social media.
I refer to myself as a change agent. A social entrepreneur. At the beginning of 2014 I set the intention that I wanted to make a difference to the future of South Africa. Because my reality is I am not going anywhere. I love it here. I love this town I call home. So I set about change in my own small way. Mentoring small groups of black youth, having a group of them at my home for a 2-day retreat. Working on an idea for an app that will help the informal contractors in our town. Nobody pays me to do this. I do what I can with what I have. I am not waiting for the big funding, the sponsorship, the financial support. Just like the Gogos and the Mamas in the townships who, out of their own pockets, ensure that the vulnerable and orphaned children have some kind of daily meal. The founders of We Are White River who care enough about their community to work at building connections. Bridging racial and social divides. Empowering local businesses. The Penny Bodens who work tirelessly at collecting knitted squares to be made into warm blankets and various other initiatives to help those less fortunate. Nick Ndlovu from Nick Inspires and Creo Nthali of Power Break who are passionate about youth upliftment. There are many others. All change agents in their own unique ways, making a difference.
My passion is the youth. Yours may be animals, noise control, litter, the elderly, the poor, the vulnerable and orphaned, creating job opportunities, empowering or mentoring others. Whatever it is, just take that first step. One small step. An enquiry, a phone call, pitching an idea, putting it out there, brainstorming. A practical action that may lead who knows where.
May this be your year of being brave, of being the change. Many small drops will eventually create an; ocean. We are the change. The buck stops with us.
May 2018 be filled with purpose, joy and adventure for you and yours. Let’s leave those armchairs behind.