Friday, May 6, 2016

The Paradox of Procelytizing

So, you're a convert to a particular activist pursuit that feeds into The Millennium Vision.  Maybe it's pursuing a vegan lifestyle for humane and environmental reasons, maybe it's bicycling whenever possible to reduce carbon emissions and increase personal health, or maybe you think purple and red tie dye military uniforms are the answer to demilitarizing the globe toward an era of greater peace.

Spin your wheels colorfully and effectively!
Whatever your conviction, you'll need to consider your approach to being an effective activist.  The practical options range from permitting your behavior to advertise itself to actively spreading the word to pursuing enforceable, progressive legal policies.

Take care! Even the gentlest encouragement of mindful behavior can be perceived as jerk-style proselytizing.  You may find yourself losing friends that disagree with your lifestyle choices; you may find your closest friends judging you as being judgmental to con
sider alternative behaviors; and occasionally you may even find your passion for implementing a rational solution becoming irrational and overly emotive.

Leading the life of an activist isn't easy.  Tweaking your persuasive skills over time and at a moment's notice can enable you to capture people's interest more effectively.  Certainly, presenting just enough logic and science alongside your intriguing anecdotes can help others see your arguments as rational rather than the latest pseudoscience fad.  Perhaps, most importantly you need to lower expectations of changing individual's behavior in the short term; instead, if you can successfully plant a seed of critical questioning in their minds you run the highest probability of inspiring thoughtful people to research the topic on their own to inform their personal journey.

Of course, people are complex and there are plenty who dial their cognitive dissonance up to 11 at times.  Choosing ones battles is a difficult lesson to learn.  Sometimes if we care about someone who is either apathetic to a cause or simply hold on to irrational premises, we may need things go, and pursue a live and let live attitude.  At other times, you may find yourself feeling especially strong about a progressive issue, and may have to consider ending the relationship for the sake of sanity. Certainly, refocusing ones energy on connecting with other progressive people can in the end accomplish more than trying to overcome stubborn inertia.

Sharing progressive ideas on social media is yet another way to reach out and inspire others. Whether retweeting contemplative ideas, posting volunteering and progressive event links to volunteer opportunities on Facebook, or sharing inspiring photos on instagram, we can have an impact by spreading positive energy within our circles. Perhaps even a weekly blog can have success. ;-)

Perhaps the most effective way to effect change is to pursue a career either directly or indirectly involved with ones ideals.  Numerous non-profits, government funded programs and even corporations have progressive goals that require dedicated personnel.  Actually working in a job that supports a component of global, sustainable long-term vision has both the benefit of committing sizable effort to activism and earning ones living.

In the end, proselytizing doesn't need to be absolutist, uncaring or irrational.  On the contrary, successfully winning people over to a cause with gradual expectations alongside a sense of humor and mindfulness can make all the difference for future goodness.  

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