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20 Ways to Be Just Another Bleeding-Heart Activist That Nobody Gives a Crap About

 

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An unsettling thought isn’t it?

You’re not going to have a street named after you this way, are you?  Not if you’re just a little, special-interest group standing in the cold shadow of the big boys like Relay for Life and Heart and Stroke. Compared to them, you’re small and outnumbered.

So what do you do?

Good question. The answer? That’s the problem; you don’t have the answer do you?

You’ve educated yourself, gone to events, bought t-shirts. Is it making a difference?

What works, you ask? What will free child-slaves on cocoa plantations, or kids in brothels? What about our own country’s vulnerable girls ?

You will.

In the early 90s there was one pamphlet on modern slavery. One. Now look around; headlines on human trafficking are ubiquitous. Superheroes are needed. And there you are—one person.

You won’t last long on your own though; you know this. If you are motivated by the fame of your favourite freedom-fighter, forget it. Most people who champion a cause don’t get celebrated. Get used to that because this isn’t about you. It’s about them, the enslaved. Besides, celebrated heroes are usually dead, and we’re here for the sake of the living. So don’t get dead yet.

Don’t kill yourself on start-up efforts that require more than you have to give. We could fill a graveyard with headstones marking failed humanitarian groups. Get smart and learn from proven fails that nobody gave a crap about.

20 Loser Approaches How many are you guilty of?

1. Be a bleeding heart—and annoy people. Like the activist who stands beside a hamster cage with a few mangled Barbies inside; it’s supposed to shine a light on modern slavery, extract sympathy and shock people into joining a campaign. But it’s annoying, desperate, and it weirds people out.

2. Get it right the first time. Wait to launch a local anti-slavery group until you have the clever name, domain, and dazzling social media presence. That’ll take a while. Don’t get stuck there. Chances are you will have to re-brand yourself at some point. It means adjusting. A lot. It’s called the creative process. Don’t stymie it by stubbornly picking one theme and refusing something better.

3. Love too much. Are you a rescuer? Careful. You cannot be a foster parent, community volunteer and a useful agent in the anti-slavery movement too. You’re just not that big. So give it up. And get on with doing one or two things really well.

4. Pause for a moment of stupid. Revisit the insecurity that you are too old, too young, too inexperienced to be a difference-maker; you’re better than that. Find out what has worked in other communities and try something. Take some risks to advance the cause. That’s the way all of us learn—the old, the young and the inexperienced.

5. Pander to perfectionism. Listen for the voice of your inner critic for course correction. You’ll get it, and then some. Perfectionism is a loud scoffer; challenge that voice. Join your team and try new, bold things and let your inner critic/perfectionist scream in protest.

6. Quit social justice work when dominating people have to stoop to name-calling in order to bring you back down to where you belong. They’ll do that. Call you names like, “bleeding heart”, or “derelict”, “off saving the world”. And you will question yourself. Go ahead. But don’t miss this question: Is the person doing the name-calling a dominating person? Caution: Dominators will try to trip your martyr reflex. Be objective. Or ask an objective person. If you don’t, you might go all martyr to appease a dominator and call it quits, and then actually feel good about sacrificing for them. We’re all a little codependent, aren’t we?

7. Be satisfied with incremental growth. This works great if you want to nap your way through life, because this energy-sucking strategy will put you to sleep. Instead, try this: BHAGs! Big Harry Audacious Goals. They are energy giving. BHAGs belong to teams that create the best energy.

8.  Offend no one.  This is a bad, and impossible, goal. How can we not offend people when all of us are complicit in the oppression of the poor for the manufacture of cheap goods?

9. Expect the kiss of gratitude. You could be waiting a while on that one because chances are you’re not helping people whose kids are enslaved on cocoa plantations—so you won’t be getting any heartfelt thank-you kisses. But you will have affirming neighbours slap you on the back for walking in circles all night long for cancer research. Why? We all know someone with cancer; we are emotionally wedded to that cause. Anti-slavery work doesn’t get gratitude kisses.

10.  Surround yourself with losers. Pick people who love meeting but hate working. Action people with a good attitude can accomplish great things together. Big talkers talk.

11.  Interpret exhausting challenges as loss of passion and quit. Passion leaks.  Emptiness happens. That’s what we call normal. You will find your mojo again. Trust me on this; if you rest between efforts and provide yourself the creative juice to dream again, your passion will get its pulse back. Think of it this way: Work grows from rest not, rest from work.

12. Avoid fun conferences and travel time. A more frugal use of time is to just hunker down and skip all that travel, chatting, networking and meet some real needs, right? Sort of.  You need friends and fun if you are going to last in this work. Sounds like crazy-talk doesn’t it? Confront human trafficking—kidnapping, rape, torture—and have fun! But it’s not crazy; it’s critical. Skip friends and fun, and you will fail.

13. Wait for an invitation. If you have something to contribute, wait for someone to coax it out of you. Wrong. Consider this work a course on assertiveness training. Be a conversation-starter on your team. And when you go out, wear those anti-slavery t-shirts you have piling up—to the gym, to the store, walking your dog—and you will have people asking you questions such as, what’s it like to have a passion? (It’s awesome!) Let them give you the talking practice you need.

14. Switch targets. There are other great causes out there; why not dabble? Are you tempted to join Rotary? Are they having more fun than you? Is it because you are on a team of talkers and not doers? If yes, then go ahead. Leave altogether.  It’s better to re-infuse yourself with fabulous people than waste your time on a non-productive team. So switch. Then take what you can get from fabulous groups and be a once-or-twice-a-year volunteer for [Free-Them], Alliance Against Modern Slavery, International Justice Mission, IJM.

15. Compare yourself with other organizations. Pick a group ten times your size and tell yourself you have a long way to go to match them. Big is not the only measure of success. If you have a sweet team you are a success. Don’t get blinded by bigger groups outshining you.  One small, solid group has staying power. The big ones have been known to grow fast and fail hard—another headstone. So don’t compare.

16. Interpret setbacks as turn-back signs. I know how this feels. I should have $3,000.00 set aside to sponsor two teens and two adults to go to Washington for IJM’s Global Prayer Gathering,  IJM GPG. We did the work to raise the funds. But, when the numbers were tallied we missed our target. Now what? Wait another year or move forward? This is when we need to have the what-would-it-take conversation. Ask your team, what would it take for us to raise ____ dollars? Create _____event? Sponsor _____ person? The subconscious mind seeks answers, and there is an answer, so dig for it with this starter: What would it take?

17.  Make decisions when forced by fatigue and frustration.  HALT—hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Think twice if any of the letters in this acronym are a part of your decision making, then do what the full caps say. HALT. Make big decisions when you are rested, fed, calm and in good company.

18Nix parties and celebrations that take hours to prepare. Take Warren Buffet’s advice and delegate nearly to abdication. So you have time to make the feel-good follow-up celebrations happen.

 19. Apologize for everything that goes wrong. It’s a heavy load but, whatever doesn’t kill you makes your stronger right? Nope. If you make it a habit to be responsible for everything that goes wrong, guess what? You get the blame for everything that goes wrong. And chances are, everything that goes wrong isn’t your fault. So pause. Before your helper reflex kicks in, wait. You will get clearer on what went wrong and in the process get that blame habit in check.

20. Just Give. Our aid doesn’t help, it hurts. Africa has received 1 trillion dollars in donations since 1950. Literacy has gone down, and corruption has gone up. So stop that. Give to organizations that stop the predatory violence associated with poverty and slavery—the ones that establish rule of law so the poor, enslaved and or exploited can live in freedom with the same protection you and I enjoy. It’s like giving dignity instead of handouts.

Speaking of hand outs, when I was a kid, my dad used to scoff at those send-aid commercials on TV. Seriously, he called those activists bleeding hearts. Then he said if you send money to corrupt countries, corrupt governments will take your money and turn it into weapons and then put those weapons in the hands of the poor kids you want to help. And that those armed kids would turn around and point their guns at his kids. That’s what my dad said.

He was right about one thing.

He was ahead of his time my dad was. He spoke his mind on charity giving and the corruption of the human heart. It’s bad business, charity and corruption. My dad saw this corruption first hand in WWII. When soldiers were forced to go without the much-needed provision sent to them. Why? Because the best food rations—beer and cigarettes—were sold for profit by corrupt middle people who knowingly denied food and comfort to soldiers who were sacrificing their lives, freezing in trenches, inadequately dressed and fed. Suffering loss of life and limb to protect their fellow countrymen who were ripping them off for profit!

My dad scoffed at aid commercials, so as a kid, I figured it was best not help out people in far-off places. When I was 25, I moved to far-off Africa. I saw food shelves with cans marked “relief, not for sale”. There were price tags stuck on top of the words relief and aid. The poor were being exploited by their own people.

You were right dad. Handouts don’t help.

They make things worse.

In the developing world the poor are ravaged by predatory violence— gender violence, police corruption and enslavement are the big three. We need to confront predatory violence against the poor, and we need to do it right.

When we do it right, the days of being just another bleeding-heart activist that nobody gives a crap about, will be over.

No more.

We can confront the predatory nature of evil. We can provide justice for the poor and vulnerable. We can end modern slavery!

Let’s get started!

Abolition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Marilyn Luinstra

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