I wasn’t always an activist. In fact, when I was young I wouldn’t have spoken up much at all. I had received the message that I needed to do whatever I could to make people comfortable. I was taught to over-serve, over-own and over-deliver in the name of “not making waves”.
I was taught to always be compassionate and loving, never righteous or angry. That compassion lesson was a good one, but it took me decades to learn that compassion is not the absence of anger, righteousness or justice. These things can (and often should!) coexist if we want our activism to be effective and sustainable in the long run. But that can be hard to do in the face of injustice, lies and the deep self-reflection we have to do to uproot these things in ourselves.
The truth is that there is a right and wrong, but the difficulty is that we all believe different things about what is right and wrong. We all have a slightly different moral compass, and in society, we are often taught to override it in service of the patriarchy’s agenda and the sexist, racist systems that shape the world.
We are indoctrinated into perpetuating systems of injustice and inequality and pulled further from our own innate knowledge and core desires. We end up supporting & doing things that we know in our hearts aren’t aligned with our moral compass.
If you drill down to our core desires though, most of us just want safety, acceptance and love.
In the absence of safety, acceptance and love, we get distortions of right and wrong. We get indoctrinated by parents, churches, schools, workplaces and other institutions trying to create the feeling of safety, acceptance and love with distorted practices and ideas.
It takes work to move through those distortions and back to our own innate moral compass. That is the deep work that so many people avoid. It is also the first step to becoming an activist.
I see a lot of people claiming activism in the name of their distortions, not in the name of their moral compass.
I also see people who feel connected to their moral compass but struggle to step into their activism.
I have done a lot of work to move through my own distortions, and that work will never be done. But it has given me more access to my moral compass. I am able to feel what is right and wrong for me, and it makes me more likely to speak up when something in the world isn’t right.
Being an activist means that you are willing to stand up and do something about what you see as wrong. You are willing to put yourself out there for equity, rightness, fairness and justice. You are willing to actively work at making the world a better place.
Decades ago, I became aware of the inequity in the world. Being a woman, I often experienced first-hand the sexist systems built from patriarchal frameworks. Almost every system in the world is designed by and for men, and mostly white men at that. This is why I started to look at how women could redefine the world on their own terms.
My activism started with awareness and reflection, then imagination for what could be different, then speaking out in the world about what was wrong, and then actively taking steps toward change.
Everything I do is rooted in this activism. I have been actively fighting against sexism and gender inequality my whole career and more recently actively fighting against racism. I also am an activist for ethical marketing and transparency in business.
Activism has many shapes and sizes, but it is rooted in a commitment to change. It is being active in the name of something you believe in – not in service for yourself, but for justice.
I use my voice for my activism! I use it daily in everything from private conversations to my podcast.
We all have to start somewhere and I believe the first place to start is becoming more aligned and more aware of your moral compass. Forget what the world has told you is right. Your body knows when something is wrong. You just have to have the courage to trust it.