Accidental Activism: Why You Don’t Need a Degree to Stand for Justice

For as long as I can remember, I have felt this arc of justice simmering inside me. I am always drawn to those who take a stand for their passions and convictions, who are unapologetic about what they believe to be right and true, who are devoted to a future of equal opportunities for all. These are my kind of humans, but for much of my life, I assumed that I had no business counting myself in their ranks. 

I was not on the frontlines of a crusade to reunite families on the Mexican border. I was not lobbying at the Capitol for increased legal protection of sexual assault victims. I was not on the pulse of life-saving cancer research. I was not about to solve the racial wealth gap, environmental crisis, healthcare access or world hunger. What could I possibly offer besides a deep-rooted sense that we as a culture still have important work to do? This belief couldn’t be enough…could it?

Then one afternoon, while listening to a podcast, I stumbled on the term “accidental activist.” And that is when it clicked for me: ALL of us have the capacity—not to mention, obligation—to leave our corner of this earth more altruistic than we found it. There is no formula or curriculum that tells us precisely how to do this, but we each have an inner spark that can ignite into flames of justice.      

Heartbreak + Action = The Fight for Justice

Alright…maybe there is a formula. But we don’t need a course in Activism School to teach us how to live this out. To quote author and philanthropist Glennon Doyle, when we figure out what breaks our heart in this world, that’s our purpose. And when we turn that heartbreak into action, that’s our contribution to transforming the world. 

It makes no difference whether we have years of experience or we’ve only just started at the grassroots, there is a cause that each one of us is uniquely wired to advocate for. The cause which breaks my heart and spurs me into action is not the same as another person’s cause, but that is the beauty of collective forward momentum—there’s room for everyone in this “justice league.” It’s our torch to bear as humankind.   

We all can use our passions, talents, backgrounds or spheres of influence to make a change. We all can push for equity, compassion, kindness, integrity and love. We all need to trust in the value we carry into this fight. We all can impact the outlook of tomorrow, but we must be willing to take an active role today.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Taking the First Steps into Accidental Activism

When determining where to point our energy as activists, I think it’s useful to start with three questions: What am I passionate about? What am I skilled at? What am I doing in life already? These answers can help inform which causes we will be the most effective in. Some of my passions are sexual trauma recovery, mental health awareness and racial justice allyship. In addition, I am a skilled writer and communicator (or so I think, at least), which is also what I happen to do as a career. 

Being able to identify these passions, talents and vocational experience has begun to lead me in the direction of my accidental activism, and my hunch is this introspective work can do the same for anyone else in pursuit of their own justice arc. 

From artists who dream of a society without homophobia, to financial advisors who want to make investing more accessible, to teachers who believe that all children are worth a quality education, to yoga instructors who share the benefits of emotional healing…who we are and what we bring to the table are all it takes to inspire change on this planet. One ember, one spark, one torch, one flame. One accidental activist at a time.  

What passions or talents fuel you to explore a first (or next) step in the direction of accidental activism? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

About Author

Mary-Elizabeth Meagher is a freelance writer, social media marketer, travel enthusiast, musical theatre nerd and self-described bohemian. She lives and seeks adventure in the Arizona desert, and she also blogs over at Health Be a Hippie—her personal contribution to making the internet a more authentic, vulnerable and empowering place.


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