Activism with compassion

posted by Branden Ran


Last night was wonderful. We had a party in support of RAN’s work at the home of Nina Rothschild Utne in lovely, Spring is Springing, Minneapolis. The overall feeling was really special.

Folks here really want to help RAN. They want to get out into the grocery stores to find palm oil-laced products. They want to help the Rainforest Ag campaign harry Cargill executives while they vacation. They want to help organize folks here in Cargill’s home town. They want to help.

Standing room only. Great, donated food and drink – really delish nibblies – made for a festive start that carried through the evening. And it wasn’t just a crowd of concerned folks looking for appropriate recipients for their financial support – so many folks are engaged in their own programs of change and of action. A wonderful woman who’s going beyond diversity training and is actively helping organizations diversify. Another terrific woman who started a program of putting volunteer observers in courtrooms with clipboards to provide witnesses to the process. The President of Dads and Daughters. Our favorite union rabblerouser in this neck of the woods. And more – many more – with unique and terrific stories about the actions they’re taking in their own lives to make a valuable difference in the areas of environmental and social justice – or just to make the world a better place. Folks didn’t really finally clear out ’til 11. Good night.

And the thing that struck me as most significant was just how engaged, how excited everyone was. So much enthusiasm for our work, for our campaigns, for our tactics.

And for our compassion. One of the things that folks really resonated with is that we do our work with a passion that also includes compassion and love. We don’t come out of the block fighting and antagonizing – we constantly strive, from the beginning to the end, for communication and engagement with the human beings involved with the egregious practices we fight to stop, the problems we seek to transform. We employ a variety of strategies to connect with the humanity that lies behind the destruction and to connect with it in a way that is meaningful, and effective. It’s the people we touch that eventually has such enormous impact. It’s the people inside the corporations who are the ones who eventually make the decision to do the right thing.

And whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re really good people when we’re out there rabblerousing. We are passionately good. It’s one of the reasons we’re so remarkably effective. It’s one of the reasons it’s so great to be a part of RAN.

And this is what was reflected back to me on the night as we told RAN’s stories. RAN does it’s work with compassion and love.