How to Start

This page is about how to orient ourselves as compassionate activists – to consider how to proceed, both in thinking about ways to create effective change in the world, and in our ability to organize our efforts and support ourselves so that we can act effectively, build inertia, and not get burnt out.

This wonderful TEDx talk can inform us to how we can act skillfully and resist getting caught up in some of the common pitfalls that can stop activism in its tracks:

So much is happening so fast (Mr. Trump isn’t wasting any time) that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the all the information and our emotional responses to everything that is happening.  We can get so caught up in keeping caught up with all that is happening that there is little time for action, or feel paralyzed by all the information or emotion that we just give up.

Here’s a wonderful article on how to stay connected and active as an activist without becoming overwhelmed.

I think the way things happen are by design, by the way – they think that if they throw too much at us at once, it will overwhelm the resistance.  Don’t let it.  There’s a lot of information (or links to it) on this site, too…but it’s not intended to be read like a book.  Rather, it’s meant to provide options so that people can tailor their activism in a way that feels important to them.

Perhaps there’s no better example of what compassionate activism can look like than Dreamcorps…bringing people together around purposeful efforts to make life better for vulnerable people.

My advice would be to narrow your focus – spend some time reflecting on the issues that are most important to you, narrow your focus to those (few) issues, and consider what you could do that would be most helpful.  Maybe it’s a couple of phone calls per week, or joining a group that is devoted to addressing that issue.  The key is to find an issue or a couple that we really care about and to take small steps, so that we can build inertia rather than getting overwhelmed.

One thing that can help with this is to build connections with compassionate communities – like through joining the Charter for Compassion.

That’s also why we need to shelter ourselves – to take time away from news and social media to connect with those we care about and spend time in ways that build us back up.  Time in nature helps.  So does exercise, meditation, and real-world human interactions with people we care about, talking about things other than politics.  Think about the situations in your life in which you felt safe, peaceful, balanced, and connected.  Consider what you were doing, and what aspects of those situations helped you feel that way…and then bring those things into your life on a consistent basis. For example, I like listening to music, playing music, reading fantasy fiction, and spending time in nature with loved ones.  Fighting the good fight can wear us down, so we need to create space and experiences in our lives that can continually help to build us back up again.