It is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of issues our world currently faces: climate change; gender inequality; race inequality; disparity in the distribution of wealth, to name just a few. Therefore, it is easy to feel that either you are never doing enough, or even become so nihilistic as to feel there is no use in you doing anything.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a common problem: the shaming of those who do “just a little bit” for not doing “enough”. In my experience it has either been people who do not partake in activism at all or disengage from these issues entirely in their own life, or those who have strongly committed to one issue, that are the most critical of the people in the middle.
It is incredibly important we do not shame those people who are doing their little bit for the world. We must also not shame ourselves for not doing everything – we must be considerate of the realities and responsibilities of our daily lives. One of the best things you can do is support those who are doing their bit, encourage those who are trying to be involved, and educate those who are inactive.
There may be a myriad of reasons why any individual is unable to commit their lives to campaigning against any of the prevailing problems, or to make the lifestyle changes that fierce campaigners urge.
For example, those who wish to combat climate change but may be unable to go vegan, perhaps due to health issues such as IBS, being underweight, having intolerances or allergies, should not be shamed. Those who are feminists but are unable to attend every march, sign every petition, or sometimes slip in to patriarchal thinking (because for many it has been engrained since birth), should not be shamed.
I have a friend who has committed herself to running a campaign to make street harassment illegal (check out Our Streets Now). However the campaign has suffered criticism for not addressing other feminist or safety issues. This type of criticism is deeply unhelpful as not every campaign can cover every issue. In the same way, one individual cannot take on all the world’s problems. To criticise corporations may be a bit more productive! If we share the load, together we can make progress.
It is important to consider that many problems are interlinked to others. So, while you may be directly helping one cause, you may inadvertently be aiding another. For example, tackling climate change is also a feminist act: the sixth Global Environment Outlook released that millions are killed due climate change each year, but that women and girls, who comprise 70% of the world’s poor, are at the greatest risk.
In March 2019, a study by the National Academy of Sciences deduced that climate change effects people of colour to a greater extent, with white people being responsible for the majority of pollutants in the US, and people of colour experiencing the largest exposure to these pollutants.
I do not seek to alarm you; I want to draw attention to the intersectionality of many global issues so as to assure you that doing your little bit can have benefits across multiple problem areas.
Some small changes you can make in your own life for the world can be in a step-by-step approach, starting with one or two changes and gradually adding. This way we may not be so overwhelmed as gradually habits change.
So, if you are only doing a few things now, that’s ok because it’s definitely better than nothing! For the environment you could be to using reusable bags, a keep cup and a water bottle, and of course recycling!
For feminism, the UN for Women suggests that we support other women and educate others – using your voice can be your feminist action!
Remember that doing your bit and supporting each other has great value, because if we all do something there won’t be so much to do!