A good friend started an entire blog just to give me a ribbing today. And that’s fine. That’s why he’s my friend. And like all good friends, he challenged me. My friend – let’s just call him Mr. Ed -basically asked, “What’s the point of wasting time and bytes arguing about stuff that may not directly affect you?”

If that were solely it, of course, I would say, “There is none. It’s a vanity. A chasing after the wind.”
But I like to believe that my words here and on Facebook are a sort of ministry – a furthering of my vocation. I learn and teach, that’s my lifelong goal and calling. And I believe, firmly, that teaching is a way of redeeming when it’s done correctly.
It allows people to ask questions of the world and the way it is: Is this how it should be? Is this how it can be? Is there something else? Is this right? If not, what could be right? How can you and I imagine a better world?
And it gets them in contact with resources they can use in order to answer and keep questioning and implore others and act themselves and then encourage others to act.

Case 1 in point: One of the friends of this blog, Kurt Willems, has been doing a series on non-violent resistance. This helps people like me because my environment – the physicality of it, the geographical mapping of shootings and gang turf wars, the robberies, the tv and movies that surround me, the ads, the reality of third world peoples that I come in contact with through one medium or another – is rooted in violence. It helps and inspires me to creatively ponder other ways of addressing problems in a creative, sustaining way.

Journalism computer labphoto © 2010 ASU Provost Comm Group | more info (via: Wylio)
Other blogs introduce me to ideas, perspectives, means, ends, problems, problem-solvers. And they make me laugh and smile and chuckle. And that is good for the soul.

Additionally, I have gained quite a few friends through the practice of blogging and social media. And for me getting to know them and their stories, pray for them, and even meet some of them (IRL) is tremendously impactful and good.

Case 2 in point: Being involved in politics allows some of us to care for the needs of “the least of us” – those who are disenfranchised, those who are marginalized, those who are not listened to.

And, through the miracles of social media, we can actually do something – even just a small thing such as add our name to an ongoing petition, to add to the voice and stir the conscience of our captains of industry. Take this recent letter sent by, for example:

We are blown away by the incredible impact members have made around the world by starting, joining, and winning dozens of meaningful campaigns over the past few weeks. So we wanted to drop you a quick note to say thank you. And congratulations. And let’s keep fighting.

Here are a few of the top victories and successes we’ve had together:

* Late last week, the largest florist in the world, 1-800-Flowers, responded to 54,000 members and agreed to begin selling Fair Trade flowers and insist on a strong code of conduct for all their suppliers to counteract the deplorable working conditions that thousands of female flower workers face in South America. They’ve promised to offer Fair Trade flowers in time for Mother’s Day, making 1-800-Flowers a leader in the industry.

* After a devastating clothing factory fire in Bangladesh took the lives of 27 workers, you asked seven clothing companies, including Abercrombie, the Gap, and Target to compensate the victims’ families and revamp safety standards in their affiliated factories. After 65,000 of us spoke up, a spokesperson from Target said this to us: “I want to understand what we have to do to get our brand off the petition … Tell me what we need to do, and we will try to do it.” All seven companies met your demands.

* An Ohio mom named Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to jail last month for sending her kids to a safer school in a neighboring district. Another mom in Massachusetts started a petition on her behalf – and the campaign gained wide notice in Time, USA Today, and on Good Morning America. We teamed up with grassroots groups Color of Change and MomsRising to deliver more than 165,000 signatures in person to the office of Ohio Governor John Kasich. Less than 24 hours later, Governor Kasich took an important step toward pardoning Kelley.

* After firing a lesbian soccer coach for having a child with her partner, Belmont University heard from 21,000 of us — including students, athletes, and alumni of the school — and has adopted a new policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. And although there’s still work to do to stop Chick-Fil-A from funding anti-gay groups, your activism made national news (including the New York Times!), and Chick-Fil-A’s CEO was forced to post a video responding to pressure from pro-equality advocates and members across the country.

* Kim Feil, a member from Arlington, Texas, has been successfully beating back the massive Chesapeake Energy Corporation from dangerously drilling for natural gas in her neighborhood, with the support of more than 8,000 members across the country. The Arlington city council has now twice delayed its decision — one member told the local Fox affiliate that the council has been overwhelmed by messages sent by members.

The list doesn’t stop there. You’ve made a jaw-dropping number of victories possible, from pushing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency to Sara Kruzan, to successfully calling on the South African Minister of Justice to meet with activists combating “corrective” rape, to getting Nashville’s housing authority to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

You can read more about these victories and many others here.

Each victory was only possible because an activist like you decided to start a petition to make change in their community, city, or country. If there’s something you want to change, you can start your own petition here:

We’re so proud to be working with you. Thanks for everything you do.

– Patrick and the team

In these days, when people are on the move for freedom throughout the Middle East and Midwest, we can align ourselves and support them in solidarity. It does make a difference.

Note: I want to clarify that I mean that activism – and that with risk – is in many ways more important than slactivism. Slactivism supports activism. So, if it’s at all possible, join a strike or a march, a boycott. Get involved with your community. Get out of the house and be about justice. If it’s not possible, however, support those who are able to do that in whatever way you see fit. No guilt. 😉

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