It’s one of the most common questions I receive on this site: What can I do to help? A lot of people want to be activists, but they don’t know where to start. What do you do if you don’t have a platform or political connections, but you are passionate about causes involving science, reason, and non-religion?
Dan Arel has written a book answering that question. It’s called The Secular Activist: A How-to Manual for Protecting the Wall between Church and State (Pitchstone Publishing, 2016).
In the excerpt below, Arel introduces a section on the ways people can fight for a cause by reminding us that there’s no “right” way to do it:
Activism is not a one-size-fits-all activity. If there is one thing I hate, it’s when one type of activist puts down other activists who are not doing things “the right way,” “the proper way,” etc. We should all realize activists fit very different molds, have very different skill sets, and have varying amounts of time they can contribute. It is hard to criticize a parent who works full time to support a family and who spends much of their free time with their family for only being able to post status updates or attend protests once in a blue moon. Yet, activists who devote their lives to a cause often struggle to understand why others don’t care as much as they do, without realizing others do care as much, if not more, but often have personal restraints on how much they can do. Not everyone can give up their job, or find a job fighting for the causes they care about. Even for those who make a living as activists, they too must juggle life, family, and friends with their activism.
It is up to each individual to decide for themselves their level of involvement. To this end, every activist should ask themselves two questions:
• Are you doing as much as you want for your cause?
• Are you doing as much as you can for your cause?
If you answer yes to both, you’re doing great. If you answer no to one or the other, maybe it is worth considering whether you might support the cause in other ways that better match your passion, skills, and time. It is also okay to realize you just don’t want to make activism a priority. Even assuming you have the time, not everyone is cut out or has the passion for such work. But if you realize you want to be doing more and can, then do it! Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. Go out and give your all. Again, this could mean you donate money, you donate time, or you do other things for the cause that are better suited to you and your personal situation. This will mean many different things to many different people.
In this chapter I highlight some of the ways that you can help promote secularism, along with some of the secular groups you can work with to accomplish even more. This should not be seen as a be-all-end-all list but rather as a resource to help facilitate your journey as a secular activist.
The Secular Activist is now available on Amazon.