In her stimulating book, The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way, Hillary Rettig argues, “[M]ost people seem to leave activism involuntarily, and that’s a problem on many levels. When an activist burns out, she typically derails her career and damages her self-esteem and relationships. She also deprives her organization and movement of her valuable experience and wisdom. The worse problem, however, may be that when an activist burns out she deprives younger activists of a mentor, thus making them more likely to burn out. And so it’s a vicious circle, with burnout leading to more burnout” (p. 16).
Rettig’s text, which could have easily been called A Very Practical Handbook for Managing Your Life, offers a concrete methodology for balancing activist pursuits, earning a living, and walking your own path toward self-actualization. Her text offers both no-nonsense advice and compassionate encouragement from the perspective of someone who has heaps of personal activist experience, plus years of helping other activists who have faced (and transcended) burnout. More than a book of “tips” or “do’s and don’t lists”, The Lifelong Activist offers a systematic methodology that helps the reader reflect, prioritize, and move forward. As a vegan and animal rights activist, who has also been involved with the labor and feminist movements, many of Rettig’s illustrative points and examples draw on those issues and contexts. Rettig has an uncanny knack for anticipating her critic, and confronts these concerns head on. From tackling perfectionism, negativity, and personal fears, to learning to delegate and stay focused, she shows you how to get on track (if you aren’t already), get back on track, and stay on track, so that we can lead our lives as effective and happy activists.
Tune in to learn more about the key elements of the book, and how Rettig enacts her goal, which is to empower as many activists as possible, while telling what she “perceive[s] to be the truth even if some readers find it to be controversial or even painful” (p. xv).
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