UCC SU Deputy President James Upton provides the first installment of his weekly column, ‘Be Just, and Fear Not‘.
No of course you can’t. You don’t stand a chance making a change. Why would you – look at you sitting there reading this, no drive to get behind the megaphone!
Every great movement has stemmed from a leader who wanted to get behind a megaphone and scream and shout – you’re right! Actually, no, having that opinion highlights the very narrow vision we have developed for activists. Some activists of all time aren’t even labelled activists because they didn’t fly the megaphone banner. Rosa Parks sat on a bus seat, Harvey Milk opened a camera shop, men printed papers in the Irish War of independence against opposition forces and Irish people voted overwhelmingly YES on May 23rd affording LGBT* people the opportunity to get married, and most of these people never once marched or shouted, but voted to make change. The point I’m making is that campaigns aren’t just a megaphone and often enough the megaphone has become the epitomised medal of campaigning, and that’s wrong, a megaphone is not the key to change, it’s a small tool that helps.
You should never underestimate a set of dedicated, passionate and creative individuals who want to make a change because they are the ones that matter. The minute you pick up a megaphone all you’ve done is taken on the stereotypical aspect of an activist, but an activists campaigning extends far beyond the remit of a megaphones amplification. Your voice can be ten times louder the moment you submit 1,000 signatures to the government over false imprisonment, or if you run a charity show to raise funds, perform demonstrations surrounding torture or simply write a blog post highlighting your discontent with an action, whether that be domestic or international. Rosa Parks sat on a seat and said the word ‘no’, Panti Bliss brought homophobia into the spotlight, Malala Yousafzai campaigns actively to the change castigating archaic patriarchy in society with the hope of increasing the number of women in education.
All these people have one common goal – to make a change. They have all realised that you can make a change without standing behind a megaphone, because most of the time a campaign doesn’t need someone to shout it just needs someone who is smart, kind and understanding to champion that change. You can be a champion of change with or without a megaphone. You can be any type of activist want to be. You can just be you and realise that change is an inevitable feature of our society and without change, and people to progress that it through campaigns then society will never become one of acceptance; and our society needs those champions now more then ever, because we have an appalling history of acceptance in Ireland. So you can make that decision to support a cause and you don’t need a megaphone. The only thing needed is you because you’ve realised campaigns are a lot more then just a megaphone and a person amplifying their voice