On Activism

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Written for the Against All Odds Student Group in 12th Grade, 2009

People in authority often have good intentions. In most cases, but not all, they know what is going on; it just falls off their desk or they have some strong objections they need to clear up. Providing pressure helps projects along. Work with them.

When that does not work, it is time to use more tactics, such as petitions and pointed opinion pieces in the Fordian. But only if warranted. In most cases, they will want to work with you. Criticizing them or working to undermine their position or fighting for power will make them less likely to support your cause. Work with them first; then, if needed, go public and dig in to fight.

Sometimes people will disagree with you. When you criticize people, they will have a strong opinion. This is ok, For example, Harvard university is currently cutting their budget 10%. Read some of the civil arguments going back and forth: http://www.thecrimson.com/opinion_page.aspx?section=0 This is high stakes. People will lose their jobs. Those who up for losing their job are fighting like no tomorrow. In particular look at this article: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=528235 It advocates that several, certain administrators be fired. Read the 8th comment which is from someone named to be on the chopping block. Now read the other comments... They go both ways. Somehow, someone, something, will be cut. Not everyone will be happy. This is not as extreme as what we advocated for.

Lastly, I want to point out the people at Sea Sheppard, a "radical" environmental organization. They are best chronicled in the Animal Planet show Whale Wars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_Wars Season 1 aired last year. Season 2 starts June 5. I highly recommend you watch how these activists put their lives on the line for their beliefs - when nothing else has worked. Stick with your position even if people disagree with you or become angry that you are advocating your position.

It is awesome that you are concerned with the direction of the school. Keep it up. Remember what the superintendent talked about civility. Work with people openly to discuss issues. This is the best way to get things done. Only if that fails, then stay strong by advocating and defending your position.