By Anthony Martinelli, Sensible Washington
Activism is a broad term. Activism is meaningful action towards bettering what’s harmful to society.
A must for those who desire a boldly improved future.
Activism has a lot of history in its meaning, and in those who have embodied it: whether as a habit, or in most cases, a way of life. It’s been of considerable importance throughout our history.
Often the term activism promotes extremely personal, and immediate reactions, tending towards thoughts of what that individual is most passionate towards. Whether it’s an intense pining to find a break-through in bettering our education system, or whether someone’s eyes twitch at the thought of privatized prisons, the ideals and preliminaries of activism is deeply embedded in all of us. It’s whether or not we convert that into outward action and influence that makes all the difference, and decides whether we effect change.
This is where that step is taken, from the idea of activism, to being an activist.
An “activist” is of course just a word, an idea. But to those who spend their lives, their time, their personal capitol to actively work towards positive (and ofttimes controversial) change, it’s consistently a term that is spoken of proudly, and with importance.
And, making sure ego is put aside, it is important. Take cannabis prohibition for example; as with most all civil rights disasters, these scenarios of inhumane conditions continue for years on the back of intensely false information, followed by the public’s silence. It’s when a few, then many, stand up and speak loudly against tyranny and unruly policies that the issue begins to reach mainstream consciousnesses, and change can begin to occur.
With cannabis prohibition, the pure force that was put into the government’s will to dissolve cannabis use, and a none-the-wiser audience buying into it, has meant a continuation of one of the most corrupt social, political and legal policies of the modern era.
But, cannabis prohibition is also a shining example of why activism is so important. A laughable (if not sickening) amount of money has been put into the continuation of cannabis prohibition, and the incarceration of anyone who dares to ignore or live their lives despite it. Despite this, and despite our drug war on a national level at its absolutely height, cannabis legalization is, by far, supported by more people in this country than in the history of prohibition.
If you think that this isn’t in large part due to activism (from Jack Herer’s work towards reform, to Seattle Hempfest volunteers forming one of the largest free speech events in the world), you likely haven’t been following the impact the cannabis culture has had on modern public opinion. Of course, modern science and reasoning has also played a large part; but in 1996, when the nation’s support for legalizing cannabis was at just 25% (according to Gallup), and medical cannabis was unheard of by most, it was activism and personal testimony (simultaneous in most cases) that helped legalize medical cannabis with 56% on the general election ballot in California, starting a trend that has led to over a third of America passing medical cannabis legalization measures since.
The reason activism is so vital is that the mainstream public is apathetic. What isn’t on their mind, what isn’t of their immediate interest, doesn’t tend to concern them. If they don’t currently consume cannabis, and don’t care enough to look into the facts of the matter, it’s not rare that they’ll tend to side with the propaganda that’s more ever-present in their conscious than the truth.
But, the more they begin to see active work towards reform, the more they see their friends and neighbors take a stand, the more they begin to question what they may have seen as common-knowledge. In the case of cannabis prohibition, the more the people question, the better. Cannabis prohibition is heinous policy, and it doesn’t take much looking to realize that. Getting the public to pay attention to and examine the issue holds just as much importance as educating them on the reasons we need a change.
This being said, the importance of personal activism can’t be overstated. As we progress in knowledge and technology, and the quicker information becomes available and obtainable, the more important and effective it will become (and is becoming) to continue bringing to light issues, such as cannabis prohibition, that so desperately need to be changed.
Spending time telling your friends, family and colleagues about the need to end prohibition, for example, is a simple yet great form of activism. So is writing letters to the editors, contacting elected officials, attending peaceful protests/rallies, etc.. Spending time researching and spreading information tends to make it grow on you, and increases the likelihood that you’ll be active in bringing change.
This, in turn, benefits everyone.