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Ego in Activism: The Thin Line Between Virtuous Causes and Self-righteous Agendas

Activism is defined as taking direct action to support or oppose a particular cause, often political or social. People often buttress an issue to make a statement and make a change in society. However, it is not uncommon to see people proclaiming and promoting virtuous deeds masking their self-righteousness. At times, this can be heard as rhetoric that vilifies those who don’t share their beliefs. When this happens, the principal aim of the movement is compromised, and it starts to overshadow the genuine and generous intentions behind the advocacy.

The virtue of a cause is not solely dependent on the movement but on how each individual uses it for virtue or self-righteous reasons. In today’s on-edge social environment, it’s not uncommon to see proclaimed ‘activists’ engage in movements with self-serving intentions and want to put the spotlight on their betterment instead of the people or issues behind the movement. That can make a movement self-serving rather than virtuous. As a society, we may assign virtuous and unworthy labels to a cause depending on our perceptions. It is essential to be aware that those beliefs aren't necessarily true. The reality is that the purity of a movement depends on the people involved and their motives.

To be mindful of the thin line between virtuous causes and self-righteous agendas, we should begin by focusing less on labels and sides of activism and more on the changes it brings to the greater good. When we are fixated on conflicts, we are prone to lose sight of the real issues. Rather than solely opposing people or issues, we should embrace the opportunity for transformation in our community by offering solutions and taking action.

A considerable part of ego gets in the way of activism when people are hesitant to let go of their beliefs. Sometimes people begin to see themselves as part of a particular ideology, and ideological fanaticism contributes negatively to the community’s wellbeing. It is crucial to strive for self-awareness, considering how we add to the negativity of the world through division and focusing on what we don’t want instead of promoting what we wish to see. By embracing dissenting views, we can avoid breeding intolerance and hatred.

Becoming an efficient activist requires self-awareness. We must be conscious of those aspects of ourselves that subconsciously serve our interests more than the interests of society. Social activism should not be driven by ego or self-interest. Instead, it should function with the intent to improve society sustainably. Fighting for virtuous causes should come from a place of love, not malice. Activism should embody empathy and respect for all people affected by the causes we are fighting to support. When we all strive towards this common goal, we will re-establish our beloved society built on equality and justice.


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