Call to Action for Life

I’m in one of those moods: Life is yours to make it.

As a kid growing up, you don’t get to choose how you start off. You don’t get to choose how much privilege you have; you don’t get to choose your family or your upbringing.

But when you are an adult — whether you are comfortable or have gone through unimaginable pain — you realize that there are things that you can control and there are things that you cannot control. Focus on the things you can control.

The world is oppressive, yes. That isn’t your fault. And still, you can take actions to improve your life. Maybe not fix everything. There are unfair boundaries placed upon us — oppression — that takes a whole society to change. But most people can still take action to improve their lives as individuals. Through my organizing career, I have seen so many impoverished immigrants of color fight so, so hard to improve their lives, despite having no money and none of the advantages — and I’ve watched them through their actions actually improve their own lives and their kids’ lives. I’ve seen so many workers in general — with kids, in poverty, multiple jobs, who’ve gone through the worst traumas — fight through seemingly impossible odds to improve their lives.

I’ve also seen workers who choose not to improve their lives. Usually they remain stagnant.

Want to change society? End systemic oppression? That takes action too. Thousands of conversations. Sharpening your organizing skills. Dedicating your life to the movement, finding and developing other leaders — systematically building structures and organizations and power, having better and more effective conversations, day after day, year after year. Effective, transformative organizing (that actually produces real-world results on scale) takes guts and discipline and a whole hell lot of work.

It is a totally viable choice to just coast through life not taking massive action. A lot of people do that. You can see it: these choices manifest as a deadness in the eyes.

I happen to think that life is precious and beautiful, and I try to make sure I’ve done a lot of productive stuff every day. I try to make sure that by the end of most days, I’ve pushed myself beyond tired.

Live your life. Or don’t.

But it’s better if you take action.

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