Slacktivism needs a Cure

The picture above was taken of me back in October of 2017, addressing the city council of Nashville in regards to gentrification and lack of jobs. Law makers hung onto my words very carefully as I approached the stand to make my testimony heard.

I have had many instances like this in my life. In fact, I have even managed to get a corrupt politician fired for fraud, county clerk John Arriola, who was extorting citizens out of their money. I stood outside of his office with a sign stating, “Arrest Arriola!”. The local news covered my story. Eventually I reached out to prosecutors who brought him to court and forced his resignation.

I’ve worked with “Home-street Home Ministries to feed the homeless in my community and sent letters to CSX, a local train yard where the homeless were sleeping, asking CSX to allow them to set up camp there so long as they do not cause harm.

(Working with members of Home Street Home Ministries) 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ben Wizner, in regards to Edward Snowden’s possible return to the United States. We discuss strategies to minimize the police state and to operate safely online without arousing unwanted attention.

(Ben Wizner and myself at a Convention on protecting Civil Liberties)

I submitted a 54 page report to the United Nations, detailing the need for international family law reform and recognition of discrimination against the Male-Gender in certain areas of our socio-economic systems.  Part of the report was published in my manuscript available at Amazon.com, see ” Global Human Trafficking In The Family Law Courts.” 

(Me giving a copy of my UN report to Tennessee law maker, Antonio Parkinson at a Town-hall meeting who eventually got a law passed reducing interest amounts on owed back child-support)

I’ve submitted several reports the International Drug Scheduling Convention, held annually, regarding the legalization of Marijuana and protection of CBD products.  The report can found on this website under the “Reports sections”.

I could go on and on with things that I have been involved in regarding social and legal reforms. This article is not designed to “toot my own horn”.  It is to display the difference between “slacktivism” and “activism”.

Slacktivists spend alot of time tweeting, making Facebook memes, and engaging in hours of online debates with their 50 or so followers. The “like”, “share”, and engage in online “flame-wars”, whereas at the end of the day, they can lay in their beds and say, “I fought for freedom today!”.

It truly is a “slacker” approach.  Behind a computer screen, one’s bravery increases quite a bit. The solution to everything is, “It’s the government’s fault”,  or “Religion made him do it”.  Slacktivists are really great at complaining and raising awareness for an issue, but they don’t really “do” anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I think using technology as a way to raise awareness is great! Create your Facebook fan page, make youtube videos, continue to use media platforms to reach an audience, but you must also combine it with REAL physical actions.  According to “slacktivists”, Martin Luther King Jr didn’t need to go to jail or protest to win equal rights for his people, if he had Facebook back then, he could have just made a “meme” about Jim Crow laws and the problem would have been solved! (insert sarcasm here).

I understand that many of us work a full-time job, some of us even work two jobs while trying to operate a “side-hussle”, but it’s no excuse, many events are held on nights or weekends, or you could occasionally take a day off., write a letter, invent something, do something! Continue to like, share, and post your opinions online to raise awareness, but, make conscious efforts to take physical actions towards your activism. Additionally, come up with practical solutions to the problems you care about. Simply saying, “Taxation is Theft”, or “End Climate Change now”, may raise a discussion, but it doesn’t present any real solutions to the problems you are raising.

A Libertarian might say, “Taxation is Theft”, but what plans does he have towards making taxation unnecessary?  Is he going to invent a new technology that replaces police forces, is he going to start his own road building service? Is he going to run for office and pass a new law that lowers or eliminates taxes? —probably not, he will probably just continue to post memes about how “messed up” , the government is while offering no real “positive” solutions on how to actually fix it or replace it with something else.

Getting angry about a problem is a normal reaction. However, the next phase is to seek out viable solutions to that problem.  You can scream out, “End Climate Change”, or “Taxation is Theft” until the cows come home, but it doesn’t really do anything. Even if you get people to agree with you, eventually, they are going to want a solution from you. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, these people never shared, liked, or posted anything on Facebook, yet they changed the world permanently with their actions!

In conclusion, we must combine the new age with the traditional. Use your technology to expand your ideas in order to reach a larger audience, but be prepared to back up your ideas with progressive physical action and demonstrable solutions.

Like, share, and comment on this article—- Then get your butts out there and do something about the issues you care about!

  • Randell Stroud
  • Nalini-Global 2018

Randell Stroud is certified in Paralegal Generalism, Bankrtupcy law, and international law. He is a strong advocate for family law reform, tax reform, marijuana reform, legal administration reform, foreign policy reform, and anti-poverty measures. 

 

The Importance of Cultural Immersion

Unlike most of my peers, I grew up in a very diverse environment. Being a Caucasian male, most people would view me as being a part of the “majority”. Alas, in my hometown of Nashville,Tn, I grew up in Inglewood, an area where Caucasians are the minority. My Wushu (Kung Fu) teacher was from Indonesia.  My best friends were from Cambodia and the kids at my lunch table who taught me how to unleash poetic rap verses were mostly African-American.

My mother and aunt were born in Germany. My girlfriend in tech-school was Chinese. My co-workers at my first professional job working with the Dell corporation were mainly Muslim refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. One of my first boxing students was from India who frequently invited me to events at the Hindu temple he attended services at. Needless to say, being around different types of cultures doesn’t bother or make me feel uncomfortable,in fact, I thrive on it! The notion of , “Birds of the same feather, flock together”, isn’t unfounded.

If you grew up in Japan, you probably feel comfortable being around Japanese people. If your skin is white, and your family is white, you probably feel comfortable being around those who look the same as you or share some kind of cultural similarity. It isn’t racist or bigoted to feel comfortable around those who look and believe as you do and it isn’t bigoted to feel uncomfortable around those who look different or believe different as you do…although it does say something about our world-view and experiences. (or lack thereof)

If you are not privileged enough to live a life that allows you to travel the world or take vacations outside of your hometown, do not fret! There is a way to become cultured without having to fork over thousands of dollars for plane tickets, hotels, and passports. You could joint the Army (Pray that you don’t get sent to Iraq), Join the Peace-Corps (Can you commit to two years, do you have a BA degree?), go on a religious mission….. what if none of these appeal to you. There is one last resort.

Live vicariously through other people!

Is there a Mosque in your neighborhood? Go visit! Attend a service! Do you see a foreign co-worker who sits alone and eats his/her lunch? Talk to them, get to know them, perhaps they can teach you their language or invite you to meet their family. Are you a Christian? Well, most Koreans are too! Visit a Korean church service and get to know the Korean community in your neighborhood. But, how do we approach foreigners?

It can sometimes be awkward, but with the power of Google, we can overcome such awkwardness through the power of language! By simply learning a few phrases of another language, you can instantly bridge gaps between yourself and foreigners!

I remember working as an office manager for a huge retail chain whereas we frequently has foreign customers. One time an Egyptian man comes through and is very upset that his product failed him in such a short time. He was irate! I asked him to calm down, (which he did), after he got silent, I said, “Shukran” (which means “Thank you” in Arabic). He began to smile, and he said, “You know my language!?”, I responded, “Only a few words”, and I smiled back. The entire tone of the conversation switched from negative to positive. The customer left the store happy and we resolved the situation. Even if we cannot afford or have the opportunity to travel the world, we can live vicariously through the experiences of our foreign neighbors. My Christian friends often remind me of a Bible verse, “Leviticus 19:34” – which commands us to treat foreigners as if they were our own family.

     
 (Venerable Sokham and I during Khmai New Year)

 

Last month, I was invited to attend a New Years party at a Khmer Buddhist Temple. In the Cambodian tradition, the New Year falls in the month of April, not January, as they operate on a different calendar. During this party, I had some interesting conversations with the head monk who goes by the name, “Mr.Sokham” or “Venerable Sokham”. We discussed Khmer Horoscopes, Karma, and other things related to Cambodian cultural norms. Two weeks later, I found myself attending an ordination ceremony of a newly certified monk at a Thai temple.

(Thai ordination festival)

During these events, I often have those “eureka” moments. I look around and realize, “Hey! I am the only white guy here!” Foreigners often form close knit groups who have insecurities towards native citizens such as myself. They fear they we look down upon them or we secretly want them to be deported. However, I have learned that once you earn their trust and show an interest in their culture, they will quickly adopt you as if you were an unofficial family member. During my time with Muslim refugees, Cambodian monks, Chinese law students, Hindu Clerics, so and so forth, I have never felt out of place but very welcomed because of these principles.

Our relationship with foreigners only becomes awkward when we approach them in fear. Like animals, we humans also pick up on negative vibes. If you come with arms wide-open, and a mind that extends even further, you will enrich your knowledge of how the world works. When you have an interaction with someone who is from another country, think of it as if you get to travel to their country free of charge! If you want to visit Korea, make friends with a Korean. If you want to visit Brazil, make friends with a Brazilian. If you want to smell the foods of Thailand, become friends with a Thai!

Lastly, after spending time with various different cultures, soon you find your own sense of identity began to change. I used to frequently identify myself as a “German”. And I was proud of my heritage. I still am in many ways. “Danke!” (Thank you in German).

However, after making friends with so many people from around the world, I now identify with my Humanity more than I do with my German ancestry or my American citizenship. Although those things are still very important to my character and function in society, I will never let it outshine my humanity and the qualities that are unable to be differentiated from any other person. Qualities such as compassion, a desire for food, shelter, love, and the universal challenges that face every human being, challenges like finding a job, overcoming health issues, and finding that special someone to share your life with.

At 29 years old, I’ve learned that the culture of man supersedes the culture of a nation. Yet, we cannot understand humanity as a whole until we experience the individual parts that make up that whole. Where I go next is anybody’s guess, but you can bet that it will be an adventure worth mentioning!

NALINI GLOBAL – 2017