To Walk A Fine Line: Finding Balance In Activism

Sunday, July 19

By Aahana Chowdhuri

I present a phrase that is familiar to most: “to walk a fine line”. This phrase is used to denote the striking of a balance between two different sides, usually in the context of two thoroughly differing positions.  Now, more than ever, balance is an ideal we should strive for.

It goes without saying that we are currently living in a tense time. 

Our world is entangled in the complexities of a pandemic. Years of systemic racism and injustice have fueled intense emotions, and these emotions have reached a boiling point in the last few years. The media rolls stories after stories of inequality, hatred and brutality. We as a society have been tearing apart at the seams. The faults that we’ve tried to hide are now unveiled, and they only continue to grow deeper. We have to combat these divides head on: solely willing them away isn’t enough.  

But fighting these issues isn’t always straightforward. As it is with much of life, nothing is solely black or white.  

We are in a moment in history which requires us as allies to be active. In this time, silence is not golden: rather, it is a testament to our complacency. Many are aware of this and are quick to call out their peers who haven’t posted online. In some cases, this denunciation is justified: for instance, some people are reluctant to post resources in fear of disrupting their “brand image”.  However, speaking up and showing support doesn’t only mean being vocal on social media sites. Support comes in various forms and there can be many “behind the scenes” ways of supporting the movement. Education is one of them. To learn about history as well as keep tabs on current events enables one to confront racism in their own worlds. 

Here is where we need balance: we must learn to champion our ideas on the internet as well as in our own lives. Voicing our opinions online provides a visible show of support and can help reach wider audiences. At the same time, only posting online without enacting those changes in our own lives can be interpreted as a form of performative activism. To truly act, we need to take on the issues that we care about in our own neighborhoods. Before change can happen on a global scale, it must happen within our own families and communities. 

Social media is mired in conflicting narratives. It is difficult to formulate a true stance when the nuances of a social movement unfold by the hour. In this age of rapid and almost instantaneous information, viewpoints that have seemingly been rooted in the truth can be shattered in a single second. Those of us who consider ourselves to be allies must be open to the reformation of our stances. What can hold true one day may be disregarded the next. 

As important as it is to reform our own stances, it is also important to normalize others changing their stances after learning new information. Debasing people for their past beliefs when they have honestly altered their viewpoints detracts from focusing on the main movement. 

Again, balance comes into play: We must hold our beliefs firm, but we should be open to new information, including the changes of others. 

Perhaps most importantly, we must find a balance between intaking information and taking a break. Some people are reluctant because they are “uninterested in politics”. But for marginalized communities, their issues are not mere politics. It is a matter of life and death. There is no stepping out of the conversation for them. 

As allies, it is imperative that we keep the true message of each movement at the forefront of our minds, and to act in accordance with them. It is our duty to carry the lessons we have learnt in this time forward. 

So I will use my abilities for improvement.  I will aim to uphold, but not overshadow. I will keep fighting for equality, both in my own sphere and in the world. 

I will strike my balance.

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