Follow the Soapbox
Mickey Z.
World News Trust/SPN

Way back, during the pre-Internet days of yore, I garnered much of my radical education from WBAI-FM radio in NYC. There was a particular morning host who always ended his show with this simple bit of advice: “Stay strong and pay close attention.”

As they say in South Florida: BINGO.

Marshaling strength and paying close attention enables activists to better comprehend how much we are lied to, how maliciously we are manipulated, and how deeply all our grievances and all our solutions are connected.

But… what do we with all this new-found evidence? 

Mary Oliver has some suggestions:

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

A very common activism trap is potentially activated each time one of us decides to stay strong and pay close attention. This sudden influx of bad news — horrendously bad news — may provide the necessary anger and focus to sustain a movement. More often, it unleashes a torrent of bitterness and despair. 

Here is why astonishment comes in handy.

What if we chose astonishment over cynicism? Not necessarily feeling astonished by yet another example of 1% malfeasance but, rather, experiencing a sense of awe at how predictable and transparent these global criminals are. Basking in the glow of wonderment when we recognize how easy their propaganda is to decode. Reveling in the reality that this generation of activists have been charged with the most important mission in the history of human struggle: survival

Then comes the crucial “tell about it” part.

If we’re gonna be inseparable from our gadgets and toys, why not do more than post cat memes and images of tonight’s overpriced appetizer? If we “can’t live without” all these earth-killing technological advances (sic), the least we can do is use them to spread some activist astonishment.

Those of you currently staying strong and paying close attention are probably already astonished that we’re on the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. Hopefully, you’re also telling everyone you know. But then what?

Please allow me to introduce some advanced instructions: 

  • Respect the urgency
  • Celebrate differences without assigning privilege
  • Unite and create coalitions
Fight back as if our very future depends on what we do right now. (You may or may not be astonished to learn this, but it does.)


Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recentlyOccupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here and here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.

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