Activist is a word that makes many of us cringe. A-c-t-i-v-i-s-t. There is something about that word that makes us feel uneasy, even attacked. The behaviour with which we characterize activism is one that occurs in public, loudly shoving reality in our faces, without care for how uncomfortable it makes us feel.
"I am an activist" is not a sentence that I would ever use when introducing myself to a stranger, or even something that I would use to describe myself to a close friend. Publicly and loudly are not descriptive of anything I do hence, not an activist.
Ironically, it has been the loud voices and public actions of family and friends that have brought me to the realization that there is such a thing as activism that is done passively. A few months past, when my brother volunteered to make toothpaste using coconut oil and baking soda, was the simple moment that made me realize that I am, in fact, an activist.
A Passive Activist
Passive activism is not to be confused with keyboard activism. Passive activism is actively embodying our perception of right, and promoting our values in our everyday behaviour, and not only doing so from behind a screen. Passive activism is standing by our beliefs, but learning to say "You know what, I hadn't considered that," and changing. Passive activism can mean going to a demonstration or town hall meeting, and then taking those learnings to share a conversation with those whom we might not share anything else.
Passive activism is a gentle nod and helping hand. It is ears that are ready to listen, and a heart ready to understand difference, and indifference.
It is the kind of activism that leads friends and family to become interested in rights other than their own, and in movements that they need not subscribe. It is the kind of activism that lead a close friend to seek out sustainable partners for her company, and near-strangers to reach out. It is the kind of activism that has challenged my own beliefs, and has lead me to say that "you know what, I hadn't considered that. Thank you."
Passive activism encourages conversation without requiring for anyone to raise a voice or poster. It empowers individuals and creates a snowball effect - one jar of toothpaste at a time.