When I started Thoughtful five years ago, I’d often say I wasn’t an activist or campaigner. I thought of myself more as a quiet rebel—not someone who agitated too visibly or vocally for change, but who lived her values and led by example. I’ve since realised I can be—need to be—all of the above.
Just as the world started making real progress—Malala Yousafzai had won the Nobel Peace Prize, a capable US president was diffusing tensions with Iran and Cuba, the Paris Climate Accord was signed, same-sex marriage became legal in the US and Ireland—things took a turn for the worse. By 2016, a wave of intolerance, cruelty and division had swept across the globe. Has that wave crested yet? I doubt it. But we can’t let it wash away all the progress we were—still are—making.
The years since have given us the #MeToo movement and Global Climate Strikes. They’ve driven people into polling stations and out onto the streets who had never voted for or protested against anything. I’ve been to marches, called on my local representatives, donated to causes I care about, campaigned for political candidates I believe in—all things I’d never done before.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned since starting Thoughtful, it’s that thinking and talking and hoping achieve nothing on their own. The only way to change the world for the better is through action. The arc of the moral universe bends toward justice only if we bend it, not if we just hope it will bend. We can only be the change if we’re willing to do the changing.
So, for Thoughtful’s fifth anniversary issue, we celebrate those rising up against greed, prejudice and injustice, and doing something to make the world a kinder, safer, healthier place. From political protesters in the US and UK, to young climate activists all over the world. From brown girls who write, to LGBT+ heroes who march.
We’ve put together a wishlist of items that’ll help you rise to the challenge, and a playlist of songs you’ll want to turn up to 11 while fighting for a better world. Thoughtful’s first (and only!) listicle is a primer on how to embrace a new dawn, every single day.
This is a very special issue… not least because, after five years, it’s the final one.
I’m enormously grateful to everyone that’s been on this journey with me. From top to bottom, beginning to end, it’s been a labour of love by friends and strangers who have contributed their talents to get more people thinking about the things they make, do and buy.
But it’s time to stop thinking and start doing, so something new is rising from where Thoughtful is leaving off. Thought Starter is a new venture mobilising people and organisations who want to change the world but aren’t quite sure where to start. We’re building tools and resources to get millions of people taking action on things they care about. I hope you’ll agree that’s what the world needs now, and I hope I can count on your support.
I often tell people I’m an optimist. But there’s a big difference between blind positivity and intelligent optimism. The latter requires us to acknowledge the good and the bad, and to do something about it.
I call on anyone reading this to rise to that challenge.
Daianna Karaian, January 2020