The Return of Activism?

As most of you probably know, I am a huge fan of Russell Brand. Huge. It’s the main reason I moved to London actually, to track him down and make him fall in love with me………

Anyway, Russell Brand has a new(ish) YouTube series called The Trews(True News) which I discovered a few months ago in which he analyses newspapers and news broadcasts and sheds some light on the political and economic agendas behind the mainstream media and urges his viewers to question the information they are given. Kind of like Karl Pilkington’s “Bullshit Man”. The most recent episode of The Trews is what inspired me to write this post. In a few of the more recent episodes of The Trews, Russell has called for people to become more active in their communities and to go out and demand that the people in power do better. In today’s episode, Russell meets with a group of women who have been made homeless and as a result decided to occupy perfectly habitable houses which have just been abandoned. When they were made homeless, these London women were told there was housing available for them in cities like Manchester and Birmingham- miles away from their homes and families. Rather that accept this, they have begun to protest and speak out against what they call “social cleansing”. One woman, Jo, put it perfectly when she said “I think that it’s a basic human right that we have social housing and affordable housing. Why should we be pushed out of the area because it’s become gentrified and trendy?”

You can watch the whole thing here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAjCiXwP46w

The media and government would like to have you believe that many working class people are apathetic towards politics, and that lack of education means they are ignorant. These women prove that is not only untrue but also a very unfair assumption. They were being treated unjustly and unfairly and decided to do something about it. Why doesn’t this happen more often? In recent news though, we are seeing a rise in stories where civilians are becoming more active the issues in their communities. In Ferguson, the riots after the murder of Michael Brown. In Taiwan, the amazing Sunflower Student Movement, which I was lucky enough to witness. And of course, most recently The Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong.

So, it got me thinking about activism in general. It is something I have come across a few times recently while reading articles online and searching for a new job in London. What do you think of when you think about activists? My mind usually conjures up images of suffragettes, students in the 70’s with flowers in their hair, Greenpeace and PETA and people like Martin Luther King. But perhaps a more local and small scale view makes more sense!

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis.

Volunteering is just one way to get involved in your community, activism is a whole other ball game.

This might seem like somewhat of a random post, but I do think that activism and volunteerism are related. You see something in your, or someone else’s community, and you want to do something about it. Just my thoughts and I am interested to hear yours!