Demystifying How to Start a F*cking Revolution

How can I make a difference? I’m only one person.

In the face of immense human suffering and grave injustices, I have wondered this exact thing. How can my actions, the actions of only an individual, change anything? How can I contribute in a meaningful way when the paralysis of inaction takes over and hiding under the covers seems like the only option?

And yet, where does change begin if not with the individual?

It goes one at a time.
It starts when you care to act.
It starts when you do it again
after they say no.
It starts when you say we
and know who you mean;
and each day you mean
one more.
– Marge Piercy, The Low Road

On Friday afternoon, House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This is a stunning defeat for the Republican-controlled administration that arguably should have been able to push through anything they wanted.

It’s undeniable that individuals played a key role in this defeat – individuals who have been calling their representatives, showing up at town halls, writing letters and refusing to stay silent in the face of this rushed, and potentially harmful, legislation.

Make no mistake, this is a win for those individuals who not only believed they could make a difference, but committed to doing so.

* * *

Marge Piercy wrote The Low Road, quoted above, in 1980 but it is perhaps even more relevant today than when she first put pen to paper. Last week at BAM’s The People Speak, Staceyann Chin performed this poem as part of a retrospective of powerful changemakers from US history, including women, African-Americans, Native Americans, immigrants and laborers.

The director introduced her by saying, “Staceyann Chill will be reciting ‘The Low Road’ by Marge Piercy.

Chin responded with, “Or as I like to call it, ‘How to Start a Fucking Revolution’.”

Those words have echoed in my head all week. So how do we start a fucking revolution? Well, it begins with the individual. It begins when the individual decides to show up, decides to care, decides to act. And then…

One more. One more. One more.

Samantha is the Director of Strategy for Briteweb. She serves on the Board of Advisors for and is a volunteer with the Activist Council for Planned Parenthood NYC.