Saturday, March 2, 2013

Slacktivism (the art of doing nothing and feeling good about it)

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Great Commission. As Christians, we know it...we've probably memorized it in small group or VBS. Some of us live it out and others claim to not "be called" but the reality is we are all called to it to one degree or other. We are all called to make Christ known. We are called to proclaim freedom to the oppressed, to take care of widows and orphans, to show the love of Christ to the world.

I'm not saying that everyone give up their jobs and go into missions or that everyone must devote 24/7 to the cause of social justice but I am saying that everyone has to do something. And something requires action...Christ says we are to teach so that people know to obey...not just so they know. The knowledge compels-demands-action. 

We live in an unprecedented time of knowledge and I'm afraid that somehow we feel that just by knowing something, we have fulfilled our obligation or responsibility. Relevant magazine recently wrote an article on "slacktivism" (a combination of the word "slack" or "slacker" and "activism"). I highly suggested it as a read and you can find it here:

The idea is that by knowing something and using social media to "like" a page or read an article or that by retweeting a tweet or link from a local non-profit, we have somehow done our part.

Don't get me wrong, knowledge is incredibly powerful and social media is a huge part in that. I use it, my friends and favorite organizations use it. It's fantastic! But if that is all we do, it's only part of it. The Bible tells us that if we tell a hungry person "I'll pray for you" but don't give them food, we have not done as we ought. The same goes for passive aggressive activism. If you "like" Not For Sale on Facebook and then do nothing to change your buying habits, what have you accomplished? Have you made a difference in the lives of the estimated 27 million slaves in the world today? No. My daughter tells me there is a meme of a hungry child holding an empty bowl and the caption reads "Don't worry, I liked your page on Facebook" This is disturbing but an unconscious attitude so many have these days. 

I realize the issues are huge and the tasks are daunting. The reality is the impact you make is most likely going to be a small one. But it is an impact. And if everyone made a small impact the change would be amazing to see. Remember the story about the star fish? Two guys walking on the beach, one guy stopping to throw starfish back into the ocean...the one guy tells the other guy not to bother because he can't help them all and the guy replies as he throws another starfish back into the water "helped that one" Imagine what happens if the entire community goes out there and throws one, two or three starfish back into the water! The more people making an effort, the more that can be done...even if it is a small effort!

So here are three small ways to save a starfish. I'd encourage you to start with at least one of them. And make a commitment with three of your friends, your small group, your book club to do something at least once a month to put knowledge and love into action for the greater good.

1) Project Live Love
Project Live Love exists to influence culture by showing love. They have quarterly service projects as well as a project called "Three Oh We Go" where they pass out blankets to the homeless any time the temperature goes below freezing. I challenge you to participate in one of the service projects or even do a blanket drive for them.

2) Polaris Project and International Justice Mission both have e-blasts you can sign up for to receive important information and action alerts when important legislation is being discussed in Congress. Sign up for one and the next time they ask you to contact your Representative or Senator, do it! (Make sure you are signed up to vote before doing so.) The reason the Violence Against Women's Act passed with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as an amendment last week was because of the number of voters who let their elected officials know it was an important issue to them. You have a voice, use it.

3) Be aware of what you buy. A deal is a deal and we all need to save money. But what if that item is so cheap because the cost of labor was so little? A great way to know what the supply chain for an item looks like is the "Free 2 Work" app. Download it. Use it. Find more info and the app at

There are so many other things you can do...and feel free to share them if you have ideas. I'd also love to hear stories of things you and your friends do or have done.

Knowledge is power. So learn more. And don't trust everything you read on social media. Do your research and listen to people with opposing view points. Then use that knowledge to affect good and change.We can accomplish much...but not by being slacktivists.

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