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Writers Can and Do Make A Difference

Updated on June 1, 2013


Many of us ask ourselves "How can I make a difference in this life; in the world I live in?" and really, it's never been easier. The Internet has opened the door to the world for writers who are passionate about justice, the environment, health, children, human rights, animals, or a host of other issues. Never in history has it been easier to reach thousands (or more) of people with a message of hope for a better world. Through platforms such as, we can cross the borders of States and Countries. We can speak to the issues we care about across the dividing lines of race, gender, class, or, attitude.

Have you ever watched a spider spin her web? That beautiful, intricate piece of architecture begins with a single thread of silk being cast to the wind. When the loose end catches on some stationary object, the web has begun. One thread of silk after another is added and eventually the web reaches across seemingly impossible distances.

Likewise, a writer casts their words to the wind when they write with passion and publish on the Internet. One person after another reads the words and shares them with another. Soon, those words have reached unimaginable distances. The opportunity to make a difference is limitless and all we really need is passion, time, and the desire to make a difference.

Demonstrations sometime require the accommodation of both humans and animals. It is a tough job.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Demonstration in Washington, DCDemonstration in Charlottesville, VAPOW/MIA Rally in Lynchburg, VADemonstration, New York CityDemonstration, Washington DC
Demonstration in Washington, DC
Demonstration in Washington, DC | Source
Demonstration in Charlottesville, VA
Demonstration in Charlottesville, VA | Source
POW/MIA Rally in Lynchburg, VA
POW/MIA Rally in Lynchburg, VA | Source
Demonstration, New York City
Demonstration, New York City | Source
Demonstration, Washington DC
Demonstration, Washington DC | Source

Demonstrations and protests are not the answer.

During the 60's and 70's, protests or demonstrations were the tool for activists. As an organizer of some of those demonstrations, I can tell you that they made little difference. Usually, the people who show up for a demonstration are the ones who can least afford to do so. Organizing a demonstration sounds easy enough, doesn't it? It isn't. There are many things to consider when organizing a demonstration.

  • Permits: Do you want or need one, or not? How much time do you have to get the permit and use it? What happens if you don't get one?
  • Media: How will you get the attention of the media? Will you call, write, issue a press release, or trust they will come?
  • Site selection: Is parking available? Public transportation? Can you load and unload equipment nearby?
  • Emergencies: Will you have medical experts on hand? Supplies?
  • Security: Will you hire security or trust that you won't need them and depend on local law enforcement?
  • Weather: Is there a contingency plan for inclement weather?
  • Signage: Will you provide it or will participants be responsible for their own?

I speak from the voice of experience. As an organizer up through the 90's, I can speak to the difficulty of organizing. Organizers learn to expect the unexpected and they must be ready to deal with it. No, organizing is not easy and that's why the Internet is such a perfect tool for an activist. On a good day, a demonstration might reach a few hundred people but the written word on the Internet is limitless. A well written argument can reach millions of people over an extended period of time.

So what is activism and what is an activist?

Let's look at some definitions.

The Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines activism as "a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue".

The Oxford Dictionary defines activism as "the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change".

Notable Authors Who Are Making A Difference

Throughout history, writers have been exercising their voice and freedom of speech to call attention to issues affecting people, the environment, justice, and animals. Most did not have the power of a tool like HubPages where you can write about anything you care about and in a few or as many words as you feel are needed to communicate your point. Let's take a look at some of them.

Civil Rights

Myrlie Evers-Williams: Born in 1933 in Mississippi, she loved learning and attended A&M College, one of the only colleges in the state to accept African American students. There, she met her husband, Medgar Evers who would become the Mississippi Field Secretary for the NAACP. In 1963 Medger Evers was shot to death by a white supremacist. Myrtie turned her grief into activism becoming a voice in the Civil Rights Movement as chairperson of the NAACP. She published her autobiography entitled Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be, and served as editor on The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches.

Nikki Giovanni: Born in 1943 in Tennessee, Nikki Giovanni is best known as a poet and for establishing the first Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her self-published collection of poetry titled Black Feeling, Black Talk tells it like it was - growing up black and poor. She puts a face on the hardship of being black in the 60's and 70'sNikki Giovanni is beloved as a poet and a champion for civil rights. She has been nicknamed the Warrior Poet. After reading her Chant Poem during the convocation service after the massacre at Virginia Tech, it was said that Nikki Giovanni spoke to the soul of the world.

Women's Rights

Betty Friedan: Born in 1921 in Peoria, Illinois, Betty Friedan was no stranger to the things she wrote about. She lived through an unhappy marriage and it's sometimes violent manifestation. She made her mark on the women's rights movement as a feminist journalist, speaking for women, about women in her book The Feminine Mystique and, as co-founder of NOW (National Organization For Women).

Asra Nomani: Born in 1965 in Bombay, India, Asra and raised in New Jersey and West Virginia, Asra has known what it means to be a Muslim woman in the free world and it hasn't been easy. Abandoned as an unwed mother by the man who was to marry her. She endured the criticism of other Muslims. When she challenged a rule in her mosque that permitted women to only enter by a back door, she was banished. Asra turned her experience into action and has written for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Time magazine. She is a champion for the rights of Muslim women to choose their marriage partner and for their rights in the mosque.

Native American Rights

Russell Means: Born in 1939 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Russell Means has been tireless and fearless in his fight for Indian sovereignty, treaty rights, land trusts, and justice for Indigenous People. For most of his life, he was too busy standing on the front lines of the Wounded Knee Occupation or the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, DC, or, organizing for the American Indian Movement that he co-founded, to write. But as he aged, he needed to tell his story so that future generations would be inspired to continue the fight for what is right. His autobiography, Where White Men Fear To Tread tells the story of his life fighting racism, oppression, environmental destruction, and social injustice for his People.

Winona LaDuke: She is Anishinaabe by birth, an American Indian, and she is a force to be reckoned with. As the founder of Honor the Earth, an advocacy organization promoting awareness for Native American environmental issues. Winona LaDuke has become an internationally acclaimed author on the subjects of on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, food systems and environmental justice.

Anti-War/Political Activists

Maxine Hong Kingston: Born in 1940 in Stockton, California, Maxin Hong Kingston rocked the literary world when she published The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among the Ghosts. Its success did not slow here down as she continues to write about the effect of war and is a strong anti-war voice in the world of the written word.

Noam Chomsky: Chomsky probably needs no introduction as he has made quite the name for himself in the world of anti-war and political activists. Born in 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he lived in the shadows of the Depression. Chomsky has a brilliant mind and has been widely published. He continues to lecture and write, leaving a lingering impact on his audiences around the world.

Wrap Up

There is a reason you have been drug through a list of authors who care. It was not intended to be painful, but more to introduce you to some accomplished authors who - were once like you. It's true. They all begin with the same gift that you have in your possession - the desire to write. Some f them write books, some magazine articles, some poetry, and some write blogs. There are others not showcased that write screen plays,song lyrics limerics, and prose. And, some tease us with recipes we only wish we could prepare. None of them have anything that the writer here on HP doesn't have - desire to write well and make a difference.

There is one difference. Although most of these writers are still publishing, when they began writing, they did not have the toolbox that we now have with HubPages, blogs, and the Internet. Most of them had to pound the keyboard until a book was finished and then find a publisher. Some self-published, it's true. But none of them had it as easy as the writers here on HP. We not only have an extensive audience, but we have an audience of our peers who will offer a critique to help us grow our skills.

So, we have a gift, we have a platform, we have an audience, there is nothing, nothing to stop us from answering the question - how can I make a difference? All we have to do is write with passion and cast our words to the wind like that little spider casts that first thread of silk.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.


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