Targets of Activism

Activism can be directed toward three interrelated components: ideas, people, and systems. Ideas represent both unique expressions and the collective zeitgeist. People may include individuals and various kinds of groups (families, special interest clubs, neighborhoods, etc.). Systems are the political, social, and economic structures through which people interact.

In activism practice, these three mechanisms are sometimes confounded. We often blame people without thoroughly investigating the structures and ideas that guide them. Sometimes we talk of changing the system without reconstructing the ideas that support them and without fully appreciating the ripple effects on the people who are involved at all levels. And if we attempt to change ideas without involving people or systems, they will remain disconnected from reality and immobilized.

Because ideas, people, and systems intersect and interact, activism should strategically target and integrate all three in order to be effective.

Alpha-Omega Testing

You may have heard of beta testing. This is when software companies share their most recent developments with a select audience to uncover bugs so that they can be fixed before the product’s full release. At this stage, a team of developers has likely already invested a great deal of time conceptualizing, planning, creating, and refining the software. In a wolf pack, the omega wolf is the one who is most often hurt and excluded yet creates harmony within the group; she or he is submissive and may stray from the pack.

I like to think of this blog as an alpha test for ideas. This is a space where I share my somewhat moderated thoughts and ideas so that they can be collectively thought through and tested. I do so with an omega spirit. Opening up myself in such a way requires humility, vulnerability, and risk of ridicule.