Tell it to SunStar: What does it mean to be an activist?

IN 1915, the word “activist” or “activism” was first known to be used in a political sense as an approach to getting things done with choice and vitality to improve social conditions.

According to Brian Martin, activism is the act of will on behalf of a cause, an action that is intended to make progress of the concept of justice in society and to educate individuals on the importance of social change.

Since Martin was a little vague, I would prefer to present my own meaning of what I think activism resembles and what I feel it does not resemble.

An activist does not have to advocate for a significant cause.

They are the persons who acknowledge everybody despite their differences. The activist is an individual who considers others’ torment as their own. Each fight and battle of an activist is a call for them to act and to accomplish something, regardless of whether it’s big or small.

A great example of this is students of the University of San Carlos who protested against martial law with the hashtag, #Neveragain. The students wore black shirts to raise awareness about their cause, and they also had a martial law commemoration at the University of the Philippines, Cebu.

The students in this example primarily focused on the awareness of having a dictator and to never repeat the same again. Their efforts to wear black were small, but not any less important than “bigger” causes. It does not signify whether or not you’re an activist. The steps you take to change your surroundings and accomplish your goals are what make the difference.

Another example is the Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg who received worldwide recognition for the movement to bring awareness to climate change.

An activist is someone ready to embrace the whole universe.

Most of us cannot take a risk in attending protests, rallies, or demonstrations and getting detained. Nevertheless, it does not mean we are not activists. You just need to make sense of how that will work best for you. You may join people on the street demonstrating. The best thing that you could do is vote or help others to vote for what’s best for society.

Activism ought to exist in states like ours, where some people and institutions commit the unlawful act without any check and balance.

According to Micah White, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power to find a substitution for it. Yes, violence may indeed occur in a protest, but it does not mean that all activists are violent. We should never generalize them. We should remember that an activist is an essential figure in society. Let’s take a moment to realize that we need more activists, not less, to confront the status quo when the government is not appropriately tending to or subsidizing endeavors.

Tweeny Fe Perales

USC student


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