No matter where you place yourself on the political spectrum, one thing is clear: we are currently at a crossroads between progressiveness and conservatism.
When I studied business, I always had a problem with my courses and teachers. They talked about business and trade like if they were from another universe, completely separated from world events and political developments. As entrepreneurs, we are often told not to pick sides. We’d loose a market! And customers!
I’ve always disagreed with that statement. Nowadays, I do not believe in staying neutral. Just this week-end, reading the world news made me feel incredibly scared. But apathy and fear aren’t the solutions, which is why I am pushing for everyone to become more politically active.
1/ Learn from others
We all have a set of political opinions and personal values drawn from our experiences and our place in this world. Naturally, we surround ourselves with people that hold similar beliefs. We read newspapers closest to our political orientation. We follow social media celebrities that represent everything we trust and support.
Sometimes, the Internet really seems to have become this “echo chamber” that everyone writes about. However, contrary to popular beliefs, we now hear more diverse voices than ever before. Thanks to blogging platforms and social media, it is now possible to read and learn from different mindsets and opinions.
Here are a few ways to learn, stay educated and keep an open-mind:
– Beware online “filter bubbles”: powerful TED talk by Eli Pariser on the importance of getting exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview.
– BBC’s Global News Podcast: a daily 30-minutes podcast summarizing the news from all around the world. I love to listen to this one on my commute to university. It helps me understand world politics and how interconnected we really are.
– How to talk about politics constructively: great article written by TED speaker and journalist Celeste Headlee. Discussing politics with your family and friends is never easy, however it can be incredibly beneficial to help you understand each other.
2/ Create something
Of course, political opinions are not as gentle and simple as picking an item from a restaurant’s menu or choosing what color to wear in the morning. In our world today, it’s hard to remain neutral on a topic. Our opinions are born and raised from our own anger, sadness and fear. These negative emotions can affect our everyday lives.
Learning, reading and becoming aware of the world around you isn’t enough. To become politically active, here’s an healthy advice: channel your anger, and create something out of it.
– Write: it has never been easier to write. Buy a notebook and write. Create a blog and write. Sign up for Medium or WordPress or Tumblr and write. If you are unsure what to write about, here are 200 writing prompts curated by the New York Times.
– Draw: if you don’t know how to, it doesn’t matter. Take a sheet of paper and draw whatever you want. Call it your “I’m angry and I don’t know what else to do” piece of art, then frame it and put it on your walls. If you want to learn how to draw, there’s a great online course on Udemy. If you are interested in watercolor painting (as I am!), there are great tutorials on YouTube.
3/ Get involved and take action
As an individual, look around you: which local organisation is active in the particular topic you are so passionate about? Reach out to them and ask what you can do to help. Consider donating if you are lacking time.
If you are an entrepreneur, think about the ways your company could be more politically and socially active. Here’s a great MIT article on “How to become a sustainable company“. Ask yourself what environmental changes your start-up could implement. Consider giving your employees some training on discrimination and sexual harassment.
Of course, it’s up to you to decide how political you want to be. However, I believe that we live in a world where being neutral is dangerous. Let’s stand up for our beliefs. Let’s vote. Let’s reach out to activists. Let’s work hard to make this world more progressive, open and safe for everyone.
I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. More than ever, we need to open the dialogue. Personally, I have a lot to learn! How do you stay politically active? Which organisation are you involved with? What do you do to help them? Have you ever consider donating money?