Guiding Light: Activism

Today, if we look at the media it appears that everyone wants to be a social activist. People post about environmental issues blaming the government, industry or any other group for all the environmental problems. They believe that they have done their jobs.

Most of these posts are reactive in nature. A young teenage girl poses in front of the media and screams in anger at what the older generation has done with the environment. Overnight she is an international celebrity – an activist and an expert on the environment.

I respect the freedom of all these people to do that though I may not hold their actions with much respect. That respect I reserve for the semi-literate man from Chennai who has single-handedly planted 30000 trees or another person who has reforested 3000 acres of land or a well known Yoga guru who is trying to revitalize the Cauvery river by planting trees on the riverbanks from the source to the sea.

These are the people who have been doing solid work with respect to the environment. These are the people whom society should be respecting and celebrating. Just because we post things on social media does not mean that our job is over.

That does not make us environmental activists especially when the posts are filled with anger and disdain for everyone else. Rather I would like society to emulate these unsung heroes who do great work in real-life situations in the real world. They deserve our respect and emulation. It is not enough to just comment on issues that we really believe in.

Although I have mentioned environmental activism the same is true with respect to activism on any other issue. It is also important for the activist to be creative and proactive and not just reactive and be filled with anger and hatred against people who have a different view on the same issue.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at

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