Fighting for a Cause: Get Angry or Get Inspired?

Photo via Time.com

The internet and social media are great. They give everyone the ability to spread information and join together  in support of a cause despite being all over the world. It’s easier than ever to put your name on a petition, make donations, and make your voice heard.  Movement leaders and cause supporters can spread information, research and news as fast as it is coming off the press.

This is all well and good, and I am all about positive change, but there is a not so positive aspect about all of this that really makes me disheartened.  The anger.  People are getting so ANGRY about the things they are passionate about.  So, my question is, how positive is this change really if people are enraged or guilt-tripped into taking action?

I agree that anger is a powerful driving force, but that doesn’t make it a positive one. It puts a dark shadow over good intentions. In my humble opinion.

One of my resolutions is to participate in the TakePart.com ’30 Ways in 30 Days’ project.  It’s about taking a little time out each day to make a positive change in the world, like signing a petition, doing something nice for someone in your community, dropping an environmentally unfriendly habit, and more.  I decided March would be the month.  Yesterday (the 1st) I pledged to end senior hunger by 2020 and put the gears in motion to volunteer for my local Meals on Wheels.  Today, the action was to take their monthly poll which just happened to be about food.

At the end of the poll there was a link to the Facebook for Food Inc. which I ‘liked’ because, well, I’ve seen the documentary and liked it. Also, because I support how positive and inspiring they are about how to take action against the “mechanized underbelly” of the food industry and Monsanto, like buying local, eating seasonal, etc. I respond well to that.

Monsanto is horrible. Yes. But, instead of dedicating themselves to inciting anger, the Food Inc. page promotes all of the positive ways that people can go against Monsanto without being consumed with toxic anger about the injustices the corporation is involved in. You’ll find an article every so often then will get people riled up, but for the most part, positive.

So, where is this positivity in other such movements? I sauntered over to the Peta2 page and sat a spell at the Occupy Wall St. page.  Both are movements/organizations that I strongly support, but I found that both, in stark comparison to Food Inc., were filled with content designed to incite anger or guilt.  They show graphic images of violence and injustice to innocent people. They are filled with comments with calls to radical action. Even though they have my full support, I didn’t feel empowered or inspired when I left, I just felt angry, a little defeated, and most of all like the problem was so big and gruesome that what the heck can I possibly do?

I know there’s plenty I can do, and there is hope, but I didn’t feel that way.

So I ask you…is there a way to put positivity back into a movement that’s about something so negative and horrific?  Or is it absolutely necessary to get people angry to get them to take action?

This isn’t to say that the truth should not be brought to light.  That people should ignore animal cruelty and class warfare because it doesn’t make them feel good, but is there a way to spin it with a positive and productive means for action?

Sound-off!

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5 thoughts on “Fighting for a Cause: Get Angry or Get Inspired?

  1. I hear what you’re saying, but your working against basic human wiring. As hunter/gatherer packs the value systems were basic: if there was danger to the pack it caused them to feel anger (thus a greater willingness to protect their crew). If things were fine it was important not to disturb the fragile bonds that most of these packs enjoyed (since being part of a group meant more food, safety, sex partners). Asking people to protest in a positive way, while it may feel good, doesn’t generally move people to action because why disturb the pack if there is no perceived danger. When you show people an enemy/predator in action it raises their hackles (literally AND figuratively) and moves them into an angry stance. This doesn’t equal violence, but anger is the driving force for every major social change we’ve ever been through. Small changes can happen personally in the happy mood, but to move the heard you need DANGER! Ibid.

  2. I suppose the problem is that in today’s world there is just so much that does go on that it seems like it doesn’t matter if you do, do something it wont affect anything. That means the only thing you can do is get mad, break down or scream.

    I believe that we need to teach people how to make opportunities to help, even just around their neighbourhoods. If we could give them the power to create a way to make a difference I think that it would go a long way to empower them and therefore make action possible.

  3. Interesting post! I think people who feel empowered don’t feel as angry as those who don’t. Food Inc. has already seen the impact that they have had on the nation. School lunches are changing, and people are more interested in local and organic foods. There is so much more work to be done, but the people of Food Inc. know they are slowly chipping away at the problems.

    The Occupy Wall St. movement has gotten so much press, but they have yet to see any changes as a result of their protests. I think once progress is made, you may see less anger and more positivity.

  4. That’s right…we need to do something! It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do what you do, as long as you do something that changes the world for the positive!

    Thank you for stoking the fire of activism!

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