From Endless Protests to Positive Progress: The Case for Measured Activism

people protesting on the street

In our complex world, there’s no denying that activism plays a critical role in instigating societal change. Activists, often passionate and driven, amplify the voices of those often unheard, shining light on critical issues and leading the fight against various forms of injustice.

Prominent examples include the Civil Rights Movement, environmental activism such as the recent Global Climate Strikes, or the #MeToo movement addressing sexual harassment and assault.

However, a worrying trend seems to be emerging: the chronic shifting of the activist goal post. Is activism increasingly fostering more pessimism and creating a more negative environment than necessary?

a close up shot of letter dice on an open notebook
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

Activism, by its very nature, seeks to challenge the status quo and inspire change, yet its efficacy can be compromised when the initial goal is reached or nearly achieved, and activists move on to another issue without due acknowledgement or celebration of the progress made.

This continuous pursuit of new objectives, often with little pause or recognition for the positive strides taken, risks creating a narrative of perpetual dissatisfaction, feeding a more pessimistic outlook on society’s potential for change.

Take for instance the push for gender equality. While we’ve made significant strides with women’s suffrage, equal rights amendments, and greater workplace equality, new issues are often raised without adequate celebration of the victories won. This risks overshadowing progress, creating an image of an unbridgeable gender gap.

anonymous activist showing placard with anti violence inscription
Photo by Anete Lusina on

While activism is instrumental in highlighting problems, it is crucial to remember that constant opposition is not always the most productive or inspirational way forward.

An endless cycle of protest, without the crucial step of recognizing and appreciating positive changes, can lead to a society overwhelmed with perceived negativity, distorting the view of how far we’ve actually come.

It’s imperative, therefore, to establish a balance. Activism in the right quantities is not just important but necessary.

However, once the initial goal is achieved, it’s essential to pause, acknowledge, and celebrate the change.

clear glass museum during golden hour
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Activists and the communities they serve would greatly benefit from absorbing the progress made before moving on to tackle the next challenge.

A positive example here is the reaction of some environmental activists to the Paris Climate Agreement. While recognizing it as a crucial first step, they celebrated this international commitment to climate action before continuing their efforts for further progress.

Furthermore, the shift from a protest-focused approach to a more collaborative one would be conducive to a healthier and more constructive societal atmosphere. Instead of the ‘activist versus opponent’ dynamic, fostering partnerships between different sectors of society can lead to innovative solutions.

The collective brainpower of activists, policy makers, business leaders, academics, and citizens, focused on solution-oriented discussions, can achieve substantial progress.

people doing group hand cheer
Photo by Dio Hasbi Saniskoro on

In conclusion, activism’s role in societal change is indisputable.

However, it’s essential to ensure that it serves as a catalyst for optimism and constructive change rather than breeding an atmosphere of constant dissatisfaction.

Let’s embrace measured activism: vigorous in its pursuit of justice, appreciative of the victories won, and collaborative in its quest for a better future.

NOTE: I create some of these posts using GPT4, asking the right question until I get the response that matches what I wanted to say. And all posts created using GPT4 will carry a message like this one at the end. So, FYI please.

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