Collateral benefits of activism

In an excellent The Guardian longread dubbed Protest and persist: why giving up hope is not an option, Rebecca Solnits considers the collateral benefits of activism. Solnits warns not fall into despair when your actions don’t make an immediate difference. In the article, she demonstrates how many so-called ‘failed’ protest movements built structures which were later used by their more successful successors.

Those earlier movements, although they didn’t achieve their immediate goal, inspired future groups and people to keep on fighting for their ideals. ”Ideas are contagious, emotions are contagious and courage is contagious,” Solnits elaborates. A recurring theme in all of my own readings and interviews is the idea of persistence. All these fights have a history, and are being fought by multiple generations, whether we are talking about the climate movement, the feminist movement or the Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s important to see yourself as a part of these narratives, instead of just focussing on the difference you can make on your own. Find out what you can add to the momentum of existing movements instead. For me, that would mean I have to ask myself: how can I use my skills – chiefly, filmmaking – to support the movements which I think fit into a longer tradition of solidarity and equality?