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Beyond Hashtag Activism: Kindness, Solidarity, and Advocacy this Holiday Season

Yes, many of us are still stuck at home. Most states have received government mandates regarding COVID19 restrictions including prohibitions of indoor gatherings, limited outside visits, closed bars and restaurants with limited takeaway opportunities, and other limitations on worship, sports, and community functions. Yet as we honor current recommendations to socially distance, there remain plenty of opportunities to engage constructively in our communities and to advocate for justice and equality in our own back yards! 

Our social justice advocacy must move beyond the limits of likes, sharing, and click rates.

For many of us, our days are full of Zoom meetings, managing children and students taking classes on-line, and other tasks that have our faces glued to the screen of a computer. In addition to work and other online responsibilities, hashtag activism continues as millions around the world engage on the internet to express opinions, stand in solidarity on certain issues, and show support for causes they care about via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other venues. Hashtag activism is a great place to start, but our social justice advocacy must move beyond the limits of likes, sharing, and click rates. As the year 2020 comes to an end and many of us celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and other year-end holidays there are still plenty of ways we can engage in kindness, solidarity, and advocacy beyond social media activism.   

As we socially distance, we may not safely be able to have our neighbors over to dinner. That doesn’t mean we can’t engage in acts of kindness to show marginalized communities like the elderly that we care. Call your neighborhood community centers to find out if there are items needed like food for local pantries, care packages for seniors in assisted living, children whose parents may not have the means to provide holiday presents this year. Adopt a letter from the US Postal Service for their Operation Santa and respond to a letter from a child to help make their Christmas wishes come true. If there are parents in your local community, offer to host a holiday on-line craft session. Many parents are overwhelmed keeping children up-to-speed during online schooling and constructively occupied when they are working from home. On-line crafts can be a way to offer support from a distance to family and friends and others in the community. 

Gather a handful of voters from your Congressional district and request a meeting

Highlight an issue you care about by providing educational opportunities (yes, online!) and take active steps to respond to matters you care about. For example, I live on San Juan Island and have been grateful for the incredible resources provided by The Whale Museum, The Center for Whale Research, and Orca Network - all great organizations that provide ideas for how to save and protect our Southern Resident Killer Whales. Ideas include things like calling your local restaurants and asking them not to serve King Salmon (the primary diet for Southern Residents), shopping locally, and decreasing your use of plastics. If you have children, your family could make drawings of wildlife they care about and would like to protect and can send those messages to your elected officials.   

Political advocacy opportunities abound in these weeks and months of meetings via Zoom. Gather a handful of voters from your Congressional district and request a meeting with your members of Congress to talk about domestic concerns and foreign policy issues you care about. Many members are having more meetings with groups of constituents because of the accessibility of being able to connect via Zoom. If your members are in a lame-duck session, it’s important to reach out to your newly elected officials to share with them about issues you care about such as poverty, racism, environmental issues, to advocating for peace and an end to violence around the world. 

These are just a few ideas to get us started, more can be found in my new book Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age. As we engage in constructive community activism, may you and yours have a healthy and safe end to 2020! 

Picture permission from Canva.  

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

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