The Red Cross movement is in 191 or more countries because they don’t climb on a soapbox. They are able to improve conditions and effect incremental change by quietly presenting a case.
When persuasion is the only tool, it is largely ineffective. When it is combined with the myth of neutrality, it is dangerous and complicit with the aggressor. Persuasion is useful as part of a sales process or a coaching regime because the nudge is followed by another nudge and another and another. In the face of oppression, disaster, conflict, injustice, poverty, hunger or an array of social and environmental issues, it leaves the issue perpetually bringing angst, agony, and acrimony.
If you are reticent about taking a provocative action, I encourage you to write a ‘sandwich’ letter to an official as an easy start to activism. Start the letter with congratulations and cordial greetings and end it with a collegial salutation. In between, fill it with a meaty, well-reasoned position and appeal for change.
What did you see in the last 24 hours that caused you concern? Who can you write an email or a letter to? Will you?
Over the past fifty years, I have found myself vigorously and rigorously denouncing public policy, corporate action, charitable practices and individuals from my private and in my public life. I lean towards respectful and evidence-based criticism but have found myself speaking in hyperbole and passionate posturing. Respectful denunciation is a much better and more effective approach.
In a world where injustice, prejudice, environmental degradation, inequity, and violence raises their head in every corner, there is much to denounce. This can be down without standing on a soapbox railing at authorities; Condemnation can look like standing arm-in-arm with the oppressed (physically or metaphorically). It can manifest as a silent vigil in solidarity with a cause or an impacted population. It may be a letter to the editor or an open letter to your mayor, expressing your concern and consternation about a decision or nondecision.
Denunciation is one bookend in the continuum of protest and is valuable and necessary in almost every circumstance. Amnesty International and Greenpeace place a strong boundary on the edge of the situation, and even when it inflames resistance, it nudges the middle to take a well-reasoned position and action. Social, justice or environment wrongdoing needs the point of the needle poking and prodding so that less aggressive forms have space to rise up.
I do appreciate the camaraderie and passionate position of denouncers and could easily find myself standing on a dais with a bullhorn raised in a demonstration of my objections.
Whatever your tendency, consider how far you are willing to go to help and then consider if you will raise your voice, your hand, a sign, your influence to hold those in authority to account.
Power to the people,