Arthur C. Brooks in The Atlantic:
“A good deal of social and political activism is zero-sum, and admits only two possible outcomes: winning or losing. When these causes become an uphill battle, as commonly happens, losing is likely. Then the disappointment can be crushing.
None of this is to say that activism is a mistake; that is for each person to decide. But much of the data present a challenge for people who want to stay engaged without sacrificing their mental health—as well as for people in positions of political leadership and in academia, who often encourage young people to be involved in important causes.
A compromise might be available through minimizing activism’s most psychologically harmful elements: hatred and defeat. A shift in perspective—from winning to helping—can address both problems. This could mean a switch from protesting homelessness to providing services for people experiencing homelessness—for instance, by volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen—or from marching against the president to giving people a ride to the polling station. Focus on what you can do to ameliorate a situation rather than simply demonstrating your opposition to it.”
Brooks here taps into various wisdom traditions to make an important point:
When faced with enormous and seemingly intractable problems, the best and most sustainable approach to activism is to “do small things with great love.”