FILMS FOR ACTION
FILMS FOR ACTION NEEDS YOUR HELP
We don't run on ads. We run on donations. Please help us by committing $5 a month.

What Social Change Activists Can Too Easily Forget

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
Jan 30, 2015
8
What Social Change Activists Can Too Easily Forget

I often think about this quote from Malcolm X. It's a point that really can't be made too often.

Having become socially conscious to a certain degree, it can be easy to fall into the trap of condemning or judging those who aren't as awakened as we are, forgetting that there was a time when we weren't as informed as we are today.

I've also found that shaming people for their lack of knowledge or perspective doesn't work. It may offer personal catharsis, but yelling on street corners or via social media things like "wake up America!" doesn't help wake people up.

Thinking of the masses as unthinking sheeple too stupid or lazy to know better cuts off the part of our brain that can look deeply and empathize with the deeper environmental circumstances that have created the mass-awareness crisis that our civilization faces.

In my experience, it was by random luck that I was born into a family that encouraged me to think freely and didn't teach me that there was only one true source of knowledge and all other sources are heresy. It was by random chance that I was exposed to books and magazines like Adbusters outside the mainstream consensus that sent me on a new path of learning. It was by chance that I grew up and met certain people that exposed me to alternative ways of seeing the world.

So from this vantage point I have a lot of compassion for the children that were born into situations that weren't so lucky. They grew up in a more rigid religious family, went to schools where the teachers and students are raised in similar environments, exposed to the same white-washed versions of history and social perspective, exposed to the same corporate media which homogenizes thought. And of course the mass media, which imparts a selective status-quo point of view to millions of people, is itself a product of the miseducation of our youth by an educational system which was also itself designed by people who were miseducated with the often subtle or not-so-subtle racist, sexist, nationalist, capitalist, religious views of the dominant culture.

People growing up in this society need our compassion and empathy, not more condemnation.

The point for me is that creating a relationship with someone from a place of empathy vs a place of judgement will create two different relationships and two different outcomes. From my experience, adults, like children, learn and grow better when the relationship is built on the former.

There are certainly a lot of adults who are 'too far gone' - indoctrinated into the cultural views of their environment - to be able to transform. I'm thinking of people like Bill O'Reilly, or maybe one of our older family members.

And when I think of the 5 year old Bill O-Reilly, before he was taught to be filled with so much hatred for others, I have a lot of compassion for the loving child that was long ago killed by the world he grew up in. I don't know what to say about adults like this, other than to find ways to minimize their harm to others.

Most of my energies I want to put towards those who are still on their journey, who still have an open mind, and haven't been so damaged by our world that change is impossible.

Focusing on media and education for the youth of the world is possibly our best chance to transform and break the cycle of miseducation. Because if we don't do anything, in 20 years time, we will have more wounded souls perpetuating the wounds they inherited from our society.

Trending Videos
Principles to Guide Our Activism
Grow Food Not Lawns!
Culture In Decline
Featured Documentaries

Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world.

Founded in 2006, our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

  • To dive in, click the Explore button above. You can filter by subject and category at the same time, and sort by newest, most viewed and top-rated.
  • Help us keep the quality of the site high by rating content 1-5 stars.
  • Add videos to our library! Half of our best content was added by members.
  • Have a question or suggestion? Feel free to get in touch.
  • Want to support us and watch some great films in the process? Our $5/mo Patrons get access to 15 of our favorite documentaries.

 

Why join Films For Action?

Goal: To rapidly transition to a just, ecologically sustainable, holistic way of living as fast as possible.

We believe the first step to achieve this goal should be an information delivery network that can amplify the impacts of all our efforts 1000 fold. 

Although Films For Action is centered around film - its true objective is the transformation of the world. This means moving away from the unsustainable paradigm we have now to a regenerative paradigm, as fast as humanly possible.  

Film is the medium of delivery -- the catalyst, the metabolizing agent to speed up, amplify and multiply the effects of every transition movement on the planet. And of course, "transition" contains it all - social justice, ecological regeneration, true democracy, egalitarian economics, universal empathy, less cultural insanity and more happiness and well-being.

All of these movements need a media ecosystem that supports this transition, rather than the media we have today which marginalizes it, ignores it, sanitizes it, suppresses it, or actively fights it. There is certainly good coverage across many different news outlets, and the quality and depth varies, but in terms of volume, the good stuff is easily lost in the deluge of superficial concerns.

Watch any network TV channel for 24 hours or read the newspaper for a week, and you will see what we mean. The dominant narratives which drive the national debate and become "common knowledge" is more often superficial, focused on symptoms rather than root causes, and reinforces the conventional "two sides" within the status quo. The lies and spin promoted by figures in power become well known, while voices that challenge and expand the range of debate rarely get heard. But most importantly, the level of repetition and volume of coverage is what counts. What gets covered day after day, and what gets covered once and is forgotten, or not covered at all? That's why we need a media movement that's dedicated to elevating the voices that aren't getting heard. We need media alternatives that make social change its primary focus. That's why Films For Action exists.

Ultimately, we're just one star in this growing constellation of new media, but we aim to do our part by cultivating the best video library dedicated to transition online, and we hope you'll join us