It, however, did lead to a deeper conversation with myself.
And, even if on a minute level, a deeper appreciation for people
who stand up for what they believe.
Slacktivism references a “low-cost substitute for substantive actions.” Hitting a “like” or “heart” button. Maybe inserting a GIF. Or a tiring and impact-diluting string of # symbols and associated words.
I’ve done it. (Though, I do my best to avoid multiple distracting hashtag phrases.) It can be a way of sharing a feeling or recognizing that someone has captured my feelings about a subject. It might lead to a deeper dive into a subject, increased understanding, and clear vision. Or it can just create a warm feeling without really taking a stand.
Whatever the reason or depth of “involvement” it does not replace front-line action. It does not come close to understanding or appreciating what the people involved in a movement experience or feel. This came through to me in a jolting moment of self-awareness last week.
My wife and I spent a day touring various civil rights museums and locations in Montgomery, Alabama. Every stop proved to be sobering and powerful on many levels. One of our first stops was the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial. Among the exhibits, we found the Wall of Tolerance.
The Wall (20 feet by 40 feet) has a constant stream of names cascading down like a waterfall. Each person had placed her/his name on the wall to show commitment to the following pledge:
By placing my name on the Wall of Tolerance,
I pledge to take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance.
I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights – the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.
At the base of the wall, a keyboard waited for us to type our names and add them to the wall. So, there I was set to type my name. For some, this may seem like a bit of slacktivism. For others, a way to show (in a small way) solidarity with a greater number of people for a greater cause. That was my thought as I stood there. I believed in the words I read.
My moment of self-awareness came when I paused. My fingers poised over the keyboard but not immediately inputting my name. Not sure what was stopping me. On one level, I heard an internal voice questioning why I would want to place my name on this wall for all to see. Outside, the SPLC is constantly under guard, we were told, due to death threats. I felt a bit of trepidation.
And then I had to talk to myself. If I felt a hesitation, what in the world did the protestors who marched in the civil rights demonstrations feel as they came face-to-face with hatred and violence? All I had to do was type my name in the comfort of a room and onto a wall with more than 500,000 other names. No threat to me. Imagine what the protestors confronted.
I typed my name. Slacktivism for me? Maybe. It, however, did lead to a deeper conversation with myself. And, even if on a minute level, a deeper appreciation for people who stand up for what they believe. Despite the opposition. Typing my name allowed me to show support. Their actions displayed courage. It is up to me to show action in my day-to-day life to support the pledge.
Video Recommendation for the Week
A few years back, on a visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the Little Rock Nine. Minnie Jean Brown-Trickey speaks about facing a mob and its impact on her.
Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (February 2019) adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®