Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Final Project


Here is my final project that I have spent 10 weeks on at least the essay part and I did a powerpoint and waiting on the grade now. 
Activism Does Work
          Does activism work? For some that question is debatable. It is debatable because some do not have all the facts of what activism is and what it entails. Activism is simply standing up for ones values, beliefs, and taking action. Activism plays a big part in America today yet many do not know what it is or how it works. Everyone is included when it comes to activism and yet some do not even realize this. There are different forms of activism from simply voting when something you are either for or against is on the ballot, to going as far as making activism as ones career. However, when most hear the word activism they probably think of rude people pushing petitions in their faces or even think of groups of people picketing outside of offices of senators and other government officials. Even though protesting and petitions are forms of activism, there is a method to making activism work.  All forms of activism are effective in their own way just as the definition of activism changes with each individual. Therefore, when someone asks “what is activism?” the response may vary but the essence of the answer should still be the same. Activism is standing firm on ones values, beliefs and taking action. The action taken will differ with each person and what they can contribute towards their cause.
           The work involved in being an activist involves making petitions, raising money, and campaigning. Being an activist is not hard work and anyone can do it. To become an activist you would have to find first a cause that you feel very passionate about and learn everything you can about your cause, express yourself, and recruit others who also share your views. There is almost a cause for everything like women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, and even politics. Another way you can help is by sharing your views and gain support. Explore sites like change.org or Care2.com to help give you ideas and tips on creating online petitions. You use petitions to gain support for a cause and let the government or business know that there are others who feel the same about the issue and change needs to happen. Campaigning for a cause is all about getting the word out there and letting people know whether they are for it or against it that there are others out there who feel the same way you do about your cause. Getting the word out there by using means of news, social media networks, creating clubs at school, or connecting with teachers, use your connections, whatever it might be (Dosomething.org, n.d.).  Whatever the process might be in activism each individual can support their cause with what they can do.
               Most causes need to raise money to help support them because they are a non-profit organization. When searching for reliable organizations to follow and help support for your cause, it is helpful to research where the money goes. A good example of a cause that raises money and awareness is Susan G. Komen for the Cure the money raised and donated to that cause helps to fund research and probably the biggest part for any cause the money used to help educate others (Susan G. Komen, n.d.). In addition, the money raised and donated to a cause or organization spent on lobbyists, which is also a form of activism. Organizations first educate lobbyists on what their cause is all about and why they want them to support their cause. Once an organization has educated their selected lobbyist the lobbyists then takes up the cause and is the advocate to the government officials.  Lobbyists form relationships with legislator and other government officials and gain the trust in order to effectively advocate the issues the organization has brought to their attention. Those issues that people have brought to the lobbyist turn around and present the issues to the government in a way to convince them that the issues will affect people’s lives in those districts (Mapes, 2011). Mapes & Mapes, Inc. are experts in lobbying and government relations. They have resources that help people who want to know more about what lobbyists do or for those who would like to become a lobbyist.
             All causes can be important and need support and one cause is neither greater nor lesser than the other is because it depends on the person who is fighting for the cause. The attention a cause receives depends on how passionate and strongly you feel about the cause. In addition, terminology can be confusing when fighting for a cause and depends on which side you are supporting; one example of this is pro-choice/pro-abortion and pro-life/anti-abortion. Terminology can be confusing and it is best to research what the terms mean when supporting a cause. For example, human rights and civil rights can be confusing and there is some miss guided information or misconceptions about these two groups. When talking about human rights some may think of just one type of group and the same goes for civil rights. Many are not fully aware of what human and civil rights are. Everyone is included when it comes to fighting for human rights but the outcome is not always the way they imagine it to be.  Activists fighting for human rights seek out groups of people who are seeking the same rights as everyone else and who should be entitled to those same rights. When talking about same rights we mean that everyone is entitled to marriage, to having kids, to be able to work, and to live their lives without being discriminated, tortured, or killed because they may be different. Human rights have been defined as “basic moral guarantees that people in all countries and cultures allegedly have simply because they are people. Calling these guarantees “rights” suggests that they attach to particular individuals who can invoke them, that they are of high priority, and that compliance with them is mandatory rather than discretionary. Human rights are frequently held to be universal in the sense that all people have and should enjoy them, and to be independent in the sense that they exist and are available as standards of justification and criticism whether or not they are recognized and implemented by the legal system or officials of a country (Fagan, 2003) ” . This means that human rights are basic moral rights of certain individuals or groups who feel that their rights and sense of independence is being taken away from them on a daily bases. Those individuals have considered them a high priority and demand respect to be given. Everyone should be able to enjoy living a life they have dreamed of, to be married, and to have kids of his or her own. What one group has it should be universal for all to enjoy and give a sense of independence whether it is recognized and upheld by the federal government or state or not. 
                Civil Rights are the same thing as human rights but on a legal level. Civil rights are enforced and upheld by the government in which when those rights or privileges are withheld there is consequences to the individual who has taken away those rights. Examples of civil rights that are most common is freedom of speech, right to vote, freedom of the press, and assembly, and equality in public places. When civil rights are taken away it is called discrimination that occurs when those rights are denied or interfered with because of race, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, and such (Cornell University, 2010). Civil rights is the next step from human rights. Once those who support human rights make others aware of the groups and their rights, those rights presented to legislators to taken up on a legal level and turned in to law to protect those from discrimination. One example I would like to stick with to better explain is gay rights. Awhile back New York legalized same sex marriage. Some would argue that it would not have been possible if it were not for the help of petitions, raising money, and campaigning for the legalization of same sex marriage. Therefore, same sex marriage started as human rights making others aware of the issue. While making others aware of the issue they raised money and sent out petitions. Lobbyists and others were probably educated with the money raised while campaigning. After the initial process, they continued it to push for it to become a civil rights matter to protect people in that group from discrimination.  
               The importance of activism and fighting for civil rights to succeed is to help protect everyone from discrimination and persecution. Discrimination is the act of favoring for or against an individual or group. It can affect several areas of a person’s life. It includes but is not limited to education, voting, employment, and housing. Some forms of discrimination include but is not limited to age, sexual orientation, race, and religion. Anti-discrimination laws have originated at two different levels, through Federal legislation or federal court decisions. Here are two examples of which federal level played a part in anti-discrimination laws. The federal legislation created the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the federal court that would be the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case Brown v. Board of Education (Findlaw, n.d.). President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects people from discrimination, which includes voting rights, education, and housing.  It was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that paved the way for Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and a several other key laws. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court decided in the case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The court ruled that public schools that racially segregated students were unconstitutional. In doing so, it sparked a wide civil rights movement that pushed toward equal rights and desegregation (Eggleston, 2009).  The other reason why it is important that activism and fighting for civil rights to succeed is persecution, persecution may not be happening out in the open or even in America but it does happen.
Persecution is different from discrimination and confusion between the two can happen. Persecution is the act that includes but is not limited to harassing, oppressing, or driving away someone for the same reasons as discrimination occurs against people. Some countries will murder, imprison, or drive away people because they believe differently or they have different color of skin. By the definition of persecution, bullying which is a form of harassment could be persecution. Because of persecution and discrimination activism and fighting for human and civil rights protects everyone involved from being wrongfully treated. The end results for fighting for human and civil rights and any good cause by activism allows everyone to be equally treated. Treated equally not only in the eyes of the law but allows society to accept everyone for who they are regardless of what they believe. If laws for civil rights are passed then everyone would be accepted and treated equally in society, many hope that it would bring peace to everyone.
I am sure that everyone would be happy to bring about peace for everyone and to end discrimination and persecution however, just like politics there are those who become activists and organizations in the name of a cause are created are not always the way that they seem. They may be for a good cause and something we support but their intentions are not clear or they take the cause to the extreme just like in politics. An example of this is the organization of PETA, which most people have probably heard of. PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, going to their website their front view shows good intentions. Their mission is to focus on four areas in which they feel that animals suffer: factory farms, clothing trade, laboratories, and in entertainment industry. However, they also focus on other issues involving animals as well (PETA, n.d.).  The downfall to PETA is they take their mission to the extreme and in ways that is controversial. Activist cash (n.d) is a site that the Center for Consumer Freedom created and dedicated their work to inform taxpayers of where their money goes. They believe that taxpayers deservers to know where their money that is donated to non-profit organizations. They have gathered their information from the IRS and update their database every month.  According to Activist cash (n.d.) they have reported that in 2004 alone PETA received almost $29 million in donations. What donors are not aware of that during the past ten years PETA has spent more money on criminals and legal defense than it had on shelters, spay-neuter programs, and actually helping animals. The list of objectionable things that PETA has done to list in detail is far too numerous that the site has listed the “top ten” from over the last several years.  An example like PETA shows that research on a cause is helpful. You need to fully know what the cause is about, what they spend their money on, and if they are actually doing what they promise to do.  However, each person has their own views on an issue just as each person has different political views. Some people have political views that are extreme on either side of the spectrum and there are those who are in the middle.
It helps being educated in eight areas that we just covered. Those areas that we covered are; what activism is, the process that is involved in activism, and are the organizations using the money properly for their cause. Fully knowing the definitions of the terms human rights, civil rights, discrimination, and persecution may open your eyes of what others go through in life. Knowing why it is important for a cause to succeed is not only picturing how life will be different for those involved but also it should be to make the world a better place. It all ties in together. Everyone is involved when it comes to activism and fighting for causes. The difference now is taking this information and using it to benefit others and it will make you feel better about yourself. Activism is simply spreading the word and we are all able to do that. We are standing for our beliefs, our values, and are taking action. The next time you see someone with petitions do not blow them off take time to listen and ask questions about the cause. Asking questions may seem like a silly idea but there is never any harm in it and it gives us more knowledge on a subject. If you are not sure about signing then after questioning them, try to see if you could come back later. Before you go back see if you could find more info on the cause online and see if there is a national group behind them or if it is local group you want to make sure the cause is reliable. Once you have done that then only you can decide if it is a worthy cause and if you are going to take action. We can finally end that if it was not for people who care about making the world a brighter and better place for everyone change would probably not happen and the world would not evolve as it has today. The answer to whether or not if activism really does work the answer is yes; yes, it does work every little amount of action helps. Whether that action is signing petitions, spreading the word about a cause, donating money, or being more involved and making it a career in some way. It is like pennies that some people collect in a jar that is untouched it keeps growing and growing. Eventually change will happen and causes will have victories.  















References
Activist Cash. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved from http://activistcash.com/aboutUs.cfm 
Activist Cash. (n.d.) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved from http://activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/o/21-people-for-the-ethical-treatment-of-animals
Cornell University Law School. (August 19, 2010). Civil Rights: An Overview. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/Civil_rights
Do Something. (n.d.). Action Tips: Become an Activist. Retrieved from http://www.dosomething.org/actnow/actionguide/become-activist
Eggleston, R. (July 2, 2009). Today in Civil Rights History: Civil Rights Act of 1964 Becomes Law. Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2009/07/481-cra.html
Fagan, A. (January 10, 2003). Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/hum-rts/#SH3a
Findlaw. (n.d.). What is Discrimination?. Retrieved from http://public.findlaw.com/civil-rights/civil-rights-basics/discrimination-defined.html
Mapes, J. (February 22, 2011). What is a Lobbyist and How They Facilitate Communication. Retrieved from http://thelobby.net/what-is-a-lobbyist-and-how-they-facilitate-communication/
PETA. (n.d.). About PETA. Retrieved from http://www.peta.org/about/default.aspx
Susan G. Komen. (n.d.). Annual Reports. Retrieved from http://ww5.komen.org/AboutUs/FinancialInformation.html

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