In the speech by Helen Zia, we are introduced to the power of activism in helping to bring relevant social issues to the attention of the general public and how through activism true and lasting change can be enacted. Ms. Zia spoke of the responsibility we all have in campaigning for not only our rights but the rights of others and how activism is a necessary tool to ensure that the freedoms and liberties we take for granted today are not arbitrarily taken away from us. While I do admit that activism is a necessity in the world today due to the many ways in which corporations and government entities have attempted to violate our rights, the fact remains that activism should not be considered an essential responsibility as Ms. Zia has phrased it, rather, activism should be thought of as a luxury available to a select few.
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One of the main problems I had with the lecture was that despite Ms. Zia elaborating on the positive impact activism has had and how it has helped to shape the world as we know it, the problem is that some people do not have the time to be activists. Activities such as caring for one’s family, having a job, making a living, and ensuring that there is food on the table all consume significant amounts of time and make an individual less inclined towards becoming an activist. Thus, from a certain perspective, activism is at times an activity that is entered into by individuals who have a sufficient amount of time and money on their hands. As such, it is not all that surprising that a large percentage of activist leaders and those who start particular activist movements are individuals with significant amounts of monetary resources.
It should also be noted that in countries such as Russia, China, and in several parts of the Middle East, activism has often resulted in the arrest, disappearance, and at times outright death of activists as a direct result of reprisals from the government. While such issues were covered, I believe that Ms. Zia failed to place a significant amount of emphasis on the dangers that activism could have on its participants with the potential for death and disappearance being a very real danger for any activist. This paper though is not a critique against activism at all; in fact, I would highly encourage people to enter into responsible and safe methods of activism. The only problem I have with what Ms. Zia stated was that she failed to give a sufficient delineation between the different types of activism out there and how certain types of activism could result in an individual’s death. Another factor that I would like to point out is that an insufficient level of elaboration was devoted to the power of online social media.
From my perspective, I believe that activism through various online social media tools and websites (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) is the “wave of the future” so to speak due to the way in which it enables particular groups to reach a vast number of people within a short period of time. Websites such as change.org have already shown how effective online social media efforts are in helping activists communicate and share their opinions with the general public. Ms. Zia should have elaborated more on this particular topic and how it can be a means for even people at home to become an activist for change.