5 reasons we should stop “fighting for a cause”

It is in the nature of human beings to want to stand up for something.

Nation, patriotism, justice, equality — something.

Not many of us have spent time understanding ourselves, and often we are not clear about which cause we should commit ourselves to.

So we go with flow.

We form human chains if we find an Anna Hazare inspiring. We take to streets being infuriated by what happened to Nirbhaya. And if nothing else, we take to facebook to beat the crap out of any racist, jerk, misogynist, politician, traitor..

Now there is a problem with this kind of “fighting for a cause”. And the problem is come Monday morning, we are back to the humdrum of life, and the ‘cause’ gets relegated to the 100th place of priority way below telephone bills, presentation to the client and office politics.

So here is what I am suggesting;

Let us stop fighting for a cause; any cause.

For the following 5 reasons:

#1) There is no specific call for action

Pop quiz: Anna Hazare movement happened in 2011. Just 6 years after that, do we remember the specific outcomes the movement was trying to achieve?

Sure it was to fight corruption. But what about outcomes? Did we want all babus to stop taking bribes? Did we want the public to stop giving bribes? What about “corruption” did we want to change?

This is just an example, but very typical. It is definitely a noble gesture to take to the street and raise our voice.

But what next?

I think we are interested in concrete change.

Concrete change requires specific call for action.

#2) It fizzles out

Gandhiji’s methods worked, for two reasons.

One was non-violence, we know that one.

The other was persistence.

Infact, I suspect that the non-violence must have been a way to preserve energy for the long-haul.

No change that is significant and long lasting can come from a few days of slogan shouting, breaking shop windows and jamming traffic.

No matter how good the intentions are, that is just the nature of change.

No matter how infuriated we were about Nirbhaya, what happened after a fortnight? How many people had the stamina to keep the pressure on the city administration to take concrete steps to improve safety for women in atleast one city?

We huffed and puffed, and ranted, either on streets or on facebook.

But what next?

#3) Those in-charge just wait for the “noise” to die down

This is the outcome of point #2. People in power and in-charge know just too well that this happens.

Public fury rises like mercury, and dies down.

All they need to do is wait for all the “noise” to die down, take some token actions, do some lip-service, and just wait.

Are they at fault?

I guess they are just smart.

We, are predictable.

And naive, to think that we can bring about change overnight, without patience, persistence and long-term commitment.

#4) “Fighting for a cause” works like charity

You know how charity works. As human beings we are wired to be do-gooders. But doing good is hard work. So we have found ways to trick our minds.

So every once in a while, we give away old stuff and money to the poor, make donations and feel good about having done something for someone.

There is nothing wrong with charity per se. Except when it is an excuse to not do more.

That is what this kind of ‘fighting for a cause’ sometimes does. Going to the street, shouting slogans, writing some tweets — all of that is good.

Except when it makes us think we have done enough.

We no longer even feel guilty like the non-fighting crowd- because hey! we fought for a cause..

#5) Throwing a stone feels fun, building the bridge is all sweat

How about we observed a no-bribe week. That would mean we have to follow all traffic rules, and if we get caught we pay the full fine with proper reciept.

Tough, huh.

It’s more fun to form a human chain, shout anti-corruption slogans.

How about we started a civilian vigilante program in our area, where we take turns in groups to make our areas safe, by personally giving time, working with local authorities.

A looooot of work.

Better to shout slogans and give views on safety for women on facebook.

Throwing stones is fun. Fighting against someone, in a group and non-committal way -that’s thrilling.

But people who bring change, find a solution. They don’t merely raise a storm.

Which brings me to, if we should not fight for a cause, what is it that we should do if we want to be a part of some change.

I think the human need to be a part of something bigger, some change, is one of the beautiful instincts that the universe has blessed us with.

And to harness it, is our responsibility.

Here is what I think are ways to do it…

#1) Commit to one or two causes — not every flavor of the month

Sure there are tons of things happening in the world. There is climate change, water shortage, population, poverty, Trump.

But what do you care for most? What is closest to your value system?

Pick one, or two and focus on it.

This requires thinking through, for clarity.

After you commit, just stick to it until you have done something concrete in that area.

#2) Don’t “fight against” — “work for”

The thing with fighting against something is, you don’t know who you are fighting against. Say you are fighting against climate change.

Who are you appealing to? United States? United Nations? Iron Man?

Where there is no clear accountability, there is no change.

It helps to rephrase the problem we are fighting and define it in terms of the solution we are working towards.

E.g.

Fighting against crime-against-women

V/S

a) Working to ensure-safety-for-women-working-at-night

OR

b) Working to help women learn self-defense techniques

OR

c) Working to make legal help easily available to women suffering domestic abuse

You see, when we start looking at it from the framework of solution, we become more specific and have higher chances of making a concrete change.

My favorite example of this is the Ugly Indian. Their site itself says — “we are a part of the problem, and only we can solve it”. They didn’t go shouting slogans on the street. Concept is simple. You find a dirty area in your city, get a group of friends or colleagues together, clean up the mess, paint the wall and share your story.

You should visit their facebook page.

I will take that broom-wielding any day to the facebook activism, no matter how eloquent.

#3) “You are not Buddha” — define your scope

Someone once told me — “You can’t change everything, you are not Buddha”. I think there is some wisdom in those words.

Some of us actually may be destined to be Buddha (metaphorically speaking) or some sort of leaders. If that is your thing, then go ahead and make changes at that scale.

But if not, still we can make a change. If crime against women is your concern, can you atleast help the 2 housekeeping ladies you do know, who get beaten up by their alcoholic husbands — can you atleast make a difference to their lives? Doable?

Can you organize some martial arts classes for 10 under-privileged girls in your area, and make sure they are at it, till they have reached a level. Doable?

I have come to believe in the power of small actions.

Define your scale. Even if — one or two things. Do it with all you heart.

Do it, and then share your story with others.

True leadership is leading by example.

And btw, I am totally for the bad guys being bashed up, taking to the streets when needed. I am even slightly a bigger fan of Bhagat Singh and Netaji, and I totally like the Avengers saving the day.

But alas, I have come to realize long term change takes patience and time.

Bringing change may or may not need loud fighting, but it sure does need the quiet adamance of taking small actions everyday towards building that bridge, one brick at a time.

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Swati Jena is a writer and entrepreneur. She is the founder of GhostWritersWorld (www.ghostwritersworld.com); @writingspells on twitter

To connect with Swati and read her other blogs, use this link to Medium blogspot.

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