April 24, 2018

The Importance and Power of Activism

Sarah Farbiarz ‘22


I first truly experienced activism when I was 12, when my family went campaigning for Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primaries. I remember very clearly the headquarters for the Clinton campaign. Outside, its windows were completely covered in posters and campaign signs. Inside, there were posters all over the walls and food left by volunteers in one corner and people working hard at every desk.
I absolutely loved it.
I remember going to our hotel that night and wondering what the point of sleeping was when it was taking me away from that room. The next day, going back to that room was like coming home again. Not because of the physical room, but because of what was happening in it. People were working together to do something good. They were not single-handedly getting Clinton elected and they were not changing American laws alone. But they were trying to get her elected and were trying to change American laws.
As I worked with them, I was proud to be part of this group because, for them, each voter’s vote was a colossal event and that made it exciting. And it was also true. Each person’s vote and voice did have a ripple effect that mattered in other people’s votes and voices and when the votes were tallied, people paid attention to the margin. I remember being so proud of being part of making that margin and that effect. When I went home, I was heartbroken, because I thought I would never get a chance to make a difference again.
I was wrong.
There were many chances to make changes. I found an opportunity for change in guns, which I became passionate about because of the horror of gun violence and because it was a frightening, almost otherworldly issue, that felt like it could happen to anyone. When you hear about people with military weapons on our streets, in our schools, in our homes, it’s scary.
I started working on events for Wear Orange Day, which is National Gun Violence Awareness day.
Being involved in Wear Orange and later in the walkout, was a phenomenal experience. These experiences brought me back to those feelings of that New Hampshire headquarters. I was working to make a change. I was trying to make this movement grow, so that it would touch more and more people. I was part of a group of people who were all fighting together for this cause.
The leaders of this group, the Parkland students, who responded to a terrible tragedy by trying to make a change, are incredible. They created and lead a movement that is powerful, empowering, exciting and emotionally resonant.
Another important group is the broader movement. The people, especially students, who are saying this must end, are also powerful. There were hundreds of thousands of people at the March for Our Lives and we are speaking up for our safety and lives and for the safety and lives of everyone around us.
Our GOA community is smaller, but we are also part of this movement. When many of us participated in the walkout, we were part of that movement and as we continue to fight for this cause, we continue to be part of that movement. But we need to get our community even more involved.
Being part of this movement is not difficult. All it takes is a desire to do good things and save people’s lives. I always find the best way to get started is by finding a group to do it with, either an already existing group, such as a march, or by finding someone I know who wants to work on the issue. Once that happens, the movement has begun and the important part – the mission and the people – is already established. Details are important, but less so, and can be worked out afterwards.
Each of us has the ability to participate in fighting for gun control. We can do our part, like the New Hampshire campaigners and like all the other students who are speaking up. We do not know how many people we will effect until we do it. But I do know that fighting our very best to do our part will affect real people and that is what matters.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself again and again that this matters. But the thing is, it does. Keep fighting. We will change the world as best we can.

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