THE BLOG

Here's How You Can Be An Active Citizen

Whether you are a casual South African citizen or not, you can achieve effective change in the spaces that you occupy.

29/09/2017 03:56 SAST | Updated 29/09/2017 03:56 SAST
Joshua Lott/ Reuters
People march day after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017.

Injustices, corruption and dysfunctional leadership have been taking place for many years and it does not seem to be getting any better. With Trump causing chaos in the US, to the rise of Nazism and hate around the world, it is about time that we, the people, rise up and take action against those who seek to divide and harm the people and morals in society.

In order to raise awareness and partake in an action that will hold political leaders accountable, it is important to be aware of various methods and activities, albeit some of them being conventional, that can play a role in you and others being successful active citizens. Whether you are a casual South African citizen or not, you can achieve effective change in the spaces that you occupy.

Joining an organisation:

Joining any social justice, human rights, civil rights or political is always an easy way of being informed of various events and activities that are taking place in your area and around the world. Organisations usually keep their members up to date with issues that are taking place and you can definitely learn a lot from being a member of an organisation as they often mentor, teach and assist its members about various topics.

Starting a petition:

Whether it is online or on paper, petitions have still been quite successful in convincing political leaders and organisation leaders to change their stances or decisions on particular issues. If you decide to start or support a petition, ensure that the motivation for it is well written, to the point and that your target market agrees with it too.

Lobbying:

Despite the stereotype of only top business people being able to do this, any citizen has the ability to lobby with political leaders and organisations to make a decision. Simply phoning, emailing or visiting your representative in parliament, the Senate, city council etc can make a difference.

Launch or participate in a campaign:

Whether this is an online or offline campaign, you can play a role by simply promoting it and launching discussions. Remember, that if the campaign is about empowering an oppressed or marginalized group that you are not a part of, allow that group to have a space to lead and do not dominate the space.

It's important to give oppressed groups a space to be empowered and not use a serious march for fame or popularity.

Take part in a protest or march:

Protests and marches have taken many shapes, forms and ways. From sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement to shutting down university campuses, these protests and marches are often linked to a campaign for social justice or political change. Remember to give oppressed groups a space to be empowered and do not use a serious march for fame or popularity. Be genuinely involved for the right reasons.

Organise or take part in educational indabas:

An important part of learning about the issues in society is to attend events that are aimed at teaching and educating the community about various issues. Issues such as rape culture, white privilege and homophobia can easily be discussed and taught at these events. Remember, it is up to you to learn and care about those who are different to you.

Donate to causes:

Money is a problem these days. We all feel it. However, so do many organisations and groups that fight for equality and take care of people who are less fortunate. Saving money and donating it to these organisations can make a big difference regardless of the amount.

I think it is wise to advise any active citizen that it is perfectly fine to make mistakes along the way; we all learn and grow as we unite in movements and organisations to make society a better place. Furthermore, if you do wish to protest violently, I advise you to do it at your own risk due to the fact that you can potentially be arrested and held criminally liable for vandalism.

In addition to this, if you feel that police or security forces are not dealing with a protest in a manner that they should be, then you must be vigilant and report this to make others aware of any form of brutality. Moreover, go into these movements, protests and discussions with an open mind and learn from others.

Remember that change begins with you and it is what you do that can make a difference for the generations to come.