7 Ways to be Active in Your Community In Times of Social Change
As the revolution in Lebanon continues, you may be asking yourself about various ways you can be active in your community. Being socially or politically active means something different to everyone, and knowing which way is best for you depends on your personality, your values, and your priorities.
So what are the best ways for you to get active in your community in times of social or political change? Here are seven peaceful, yet powerful, ideas.
Educate Yourself (and others) on the Issues
I truly believe that education is one of the most powerful forces at our disposal. It’s also one of the simplest and most important ways to be active in times of social change.
Education may seem simplistic when there are major events going on, but I recommend using it as a base for all your other activism. Get an in-depth idea of what you’re trying to achieve with the cause and how the current situation came to be. Understand what is going on in Lebanon right now so you can have detailed discussions, form logical arguments, and know exactly what you’re working towards.
Then, have discussions with your peers about these issues. Get their points of view, and offer up your own.
Join Local Activist Groups
Currently in Lebanon, there are many activist groups that are working hard to create change. Joining groups is a great way to meet like-minded people, get a greater understanding of the issues, and become more invested in your community. Research a few of the activist groups in your area, and then consider joining the one that most aligns with your values.
Activist groups can focus on anything from organizing meet-ups, think tanks, and demonstrations, to fundraising for programs or volunteering in clean-ups.
At the same time, no matter how politically involved you are in your community, it’s very important to take care of yourself as an activist. Check out these 7 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Times of Social Change.
Consumer Pressure and Boycotting
In the digital age, brands are built on reputation. Studies have shown that people are more willing to buy from companies they know and trust and, because of this, companies will go the extra mile to defend their reputations. As a result, companies are extremely receptive to consumer pressure.
Putting consumer pressure on companies by boycotting specific goods and spreading factual information about any wrongdoing is an incredibly powerful way to elicit change in your community. If you know of any companies in Lebanon that are donating against your interests or are engaging in behavior you don’t agree with, then stop purchasing from that company and spread the word.
If you’re wondering how consumer pressure and boycotting work, then check out these success stories from the Ethical Consumer.
Put Your Concerns Into Words
Depending on your government, contacting your local representatives — either through email or phone — can be an effective way to get their attention about important issues. In doing this, let them know where you stand, suggest alternatives to the status quo, and enlighten them on your perspective.
Granted, if you’re dealing with a specifically corrupt or bureaucratic government, it can be difficult to get through to your representatives, or have your voice heard at all. If this is the case, then consider writing open letters that you can publish on social media or send to your personal network, find alternative people to speak to, and be as persistent as possible.
Attend a Protest or Demonstration
Demonstrations and protests have been occurring every day in Lebanon, and they are excellent ways to make your voice, and cause, heard. As I’m sure you’ve experienced in this revolution, there is great strength in numbers, and this is especially true when it comes to being seen by (or inconveniencing) the right people.
However, when protesting, always stay vigilant when it comes to being peaceful and non-violent. Keep an eye out for any unruly behavior, and always keep your safety, and the safety of your fellow protesters, in mind.
Use Social Media
Social media is an extremely useful tool in times of social and political change. As a resource, it helps to spread information, bring people together, and plan events.
Without compromising your mental health, stay up to date on social media, engage when appropriate, and use it to see when various demonstrations or meetups will be happening. Just remember to fact check whatever information you share on social media, and use it in ways that make you feel good (this includes turning it off when you need to).
This article includes excellent tips for managing your social media use.
Donating to a local organization in need is a great way to be socially active. Especially so if you’re uncomfortable being visible in the revolution, or you simply don’t have the time or capability to be physically present.
Research a few organizations in your area and find out whether they need money, clothes, or other goods. There are always people in need, especially during the revolution, and donating is an excellent way of spreading good faith during times of unrest.
Thanks for reading these 7 ways to be active in your community during times of social change! What are some ways you’ve shown up for your community? Let us know in the comments!
As the author of this article, I’d like to note that although I’m not Lebanese, my heart is with the people of Lebanon during this time. This article was put together using my personal experiences, a variety of sources, and with the help and guidance of The Wellness Project team currently in Lebanon.