ACTIVISM 101 (The 12 Commandments of Activism)
I. THOU SHALT NOT COMPROMISE THE TRUTH
As an activist your best friend is THE TRUTH. Never abandon your best friend and your best friend will never abandon you. The universe is built on truth, and as long as you speak and stand on truth you have the support of immutable universal laws that reign supreme over all other laws.
II. THOU SHALT MAINTAIN THY SINCERITY
Most activists, like politicians, start out sincere and end up being corrupted by vanity and the intoxicating effect of power and popularity. Sincerity must be protected by constantly reminding yourself that the people you serve are greater than yourself. Your Power to be effective and attractive will be found in your sincerity. For power is given to man for only one purpose, and that is to SERVE OTHERS.
III. THOU SHALT NOT COMPROMISE THY CHARACTER
Never compromise righteous principles for the attainment of personal goals or otherwise. Fight like hell to maintain your character, because if your voice becomes one of influence YOU WILL BE TESTED.
IV. THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS
If you wish to become an accomplished advocate of your people, you must be willing to STUDY. Do not be so quick to jump into a battle without knowledge of the facts. This takes great discipline and it takes patience, because activists like to get “active.” However, if you go to war as an uninformed warrior you will not be effective. And if we are not being effective, we may as well stay home. I cannot stress enough the importance of study.
V. THOU MUST HAVE PASSION
You must have a strong desire to see right prevail over wrong. As painful as it is to see people suffer you must learn to LOVE the work of activism or it will burn you out. It is desire that will feed your will to keep fighting.
VI. THOU SHALT NOT NEGLECT SELF AND FAMILY
The rabbit runs faster, but the turtle lives longer. This is no excuse to be slow-moving. As Watchmen in our community we must be quick-thinking and fast-moving. However, do not spend your life helping everyone else’s children, yet neglecting your own. Minister Farrakhan teaches us that healing must precede service. Do the work that you were born to do, but don’t neglect yourself and your family in the process. Develop and maintain BALANCE.
VII. HUMBLE THYSELF or STUMBLE THYSELF
The more humble you are, the more long-suffering you will be with those whom you serve. Don’t get carried away with yourself, lest you become just like the very oppressors that you claim to be protecting your people from.
VIII. THOU MUST BE WILLING TO SACRIFICE
Activism requires late nights, early mornings and impromptu responses to community emergencies. IT NEVER STOPS. If you develop a reputation as a Watchman in your neighborhood, the community sees you as their property.
IX. THOU SHALT ORGANIZE
Being organized is key in the life of an activist. I’ve learned this “the hard way.” Minister Farrakhan teaches us that an organized lie is more effective that disorganized truth. So it is with disorganized sincerity. There have been times when I had good intentions to help someone, but I just failed to write down my good intentions and got overwhelmed and it slipped my mind. I had to learn that there is a difference between an ACTIVIST and an ORGANIZER. I am striving to be proficient at both.
X. THOU SHALT BUILD A STRONG TEAM
You will be amazed at what you can do by yourself, but you will be astounded by what you cannot do by yourself. God will not give you an assignment without giving you all that you need to accomplish that assignment. If the work you are doing is His work then he will send you help. Accept help. You will need it.
XI. THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
All great works need resources in order to do greater works. The greatest resource is knowledge. Other resources include helpers, strategic alliances, finances, etc. YOU MUST BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS. Any resources acquired should be allocated with integrity, obtained legally and handled ethically in a way that does not undermine the very principles that you uphold as a voice of truth and justice. Do not allow your need for resources to turn you into a “sell-out.”
XII. THOU SHALT HAVE TESTICULAR FORTITUDE
Freedom, like fortune, favors the BOLD. There will come a time when you will have to just swing the axe of truth at the tree of circumstance and “let the the chips fall where they may.” When you do you will have what they all a “sputnik moment”. You will see how well it works every time and you may become addicted. When you do boldly say and do what is right you are always on the right side of history. Speak the truth regardless of circimstances or consequences.
Mr. Muhammad is an accomplished Houston-based Activist/Organizer who addresses issues on Social Justice, Black Male Development, Police Brutality, Racial Inequality and a host of other critical topics.
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Visit me online at www.dericmuhammad.com