Home / Op-Ed / Activism should be local first

Activism should be local first

author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief

Credit: Bartheard via flickr

Here’s the thing: there’s a lot to be angry about. I know it can get exhausting, but I don’t think we focus enough in our daily conversations – and forget the mainstream media – about the problems faced on our soil.

Everyone I talk to is terrified of the healthcare bill that is, by political extension, the work of Mr. Donald Trump. While I agree that we should take note of the challenges being presented by our neighbors, I’ve found that our rush to denounce healthcare cuts for the red white and blue has insulated us from fighting against cuts in our province, not even our country.

These examples are anecdotal evidence, but I’ve seen an uptick of my friends who are posting on websites like GoFundMe to encourage others to help them pick up their healthcare tab. Where’s the outrage when disability funding for those with next to nothing is cut once again? Why should someone have to ask complete strangers to help them cover homecare costs or the price of transportation? Now, this is not to say that you can’t be angry with both. You can. I am. But, we’ve decided to go to one extreme over another.

Here’s the thing: there’s a lot to be angry about. I know it can get exhausting, but I don’t think we focus enough in our daily conversations – and forget the mainstream media – about the problems faced on our soil. It’s a lot easier to fight for something that you have much less control over. A sense of control means ownership; it means taking on much bigger challenges than lobbying an overseas authority. Across the world, we still institutionalize disabled people, we still go for the cheaper healthcare solution over the best one for the patient, we still have drugs that cost far more than they should, and we still have insurance systems that do not function as blissfully as we (sometimes) think they do. Our mental health supports are suffering from a lack of access; many Canadian cities have a homelessness problem (the concept of homelessness, not the people, of course), and all of these issues, both on a micro and macro level, have an effect on the people of Regina.

These very issues are why movements like Students Marching Against Cuts (SMAC) are so important. This is why protestors standing outside of the STC Depot are important. It’s why making art as a call-to-action is important. We need to remember that change begins at home. Change starts with our smaller conversations, our inclusionary practices, our protests, and our work. There is no substitute for hard work.

I think that’s why I’m frustrated with some people, exhausted as they may be, substituting these hard-to-have conversations with signing change.org petitions and posturing, thinking that it creates the same amount of influence. As someone who lives with a disability, I can tell you that there is no substitute for hard work regarding advocating for yourself and/or others. Now, I am empathetic to the fact that every person who fights for social justice needs a break every once in a while, but it’s better to take a break than to muddy the waters of your activism. Stay involved, but step away a little bit. Read a book, write some poems, or maybe create a podcast. I haven’t been able to attend very many protest-like events because of my recent energy levels – believe it or not, being a creative professional saps away energy rather quickly – but I can still make change through art. It is all about finding your venue, finding your stride, focusing locally, and making a difference, a difference that has little to do (at least on a day-to-day micro level) with the political firestorm south of the border.

About John Loeppky

I am an athlete with a writing problem, or a writer with a sports problem, you decide. When I’m not editing, playing wheelchair sports, or advocating for the disabled, you can find me de-stressing with friends.