Activating Action

Activism, photo by Nancy J Lang

A few days ago I woke up thinking about the word activist. What are they activating? Conscience, sympathy, compassion? Or how about outrage, anger, disgust? Activating action?

The other names that we use for this activity to promote change (or not) are interesting as well. Protester came to my mind first. Somewhat of a clunker because sometimes a protest is in favor of some action , not against it. Protestant, of course, was already taken… and this led me to thinking about the roots of these words and how the use of one or the other by the media, and us, can shape the way we view their causes. Some examples:

For/positive; supporter, advocate, promoter, lobbyist , champion, backer

Against/negative; agitator, radical, extremist, militant, zealot, partisan, anarchist

Neutral; activist, campaigner, organizer, demonstrator, reformer/ist

You can see that by subtle use of language you can be influenced, or influence others, to see a cause in a good or bad way. Don’t just consider the issue, consider how the issue is being defined in order to influence your perception of it. The photo above is an example of promoting positive change (gun legislation) against gun violence. Not protesting guns per se, but the damage that they do.