Activist speech

Activism is about power. In particular, it’s about trying to get powerful people to listen to the powerless. That power imbalance creates a distinct flavour in activist writing and speech.

Activists present their argument with emotion and passion. They often make it personal, with lots of direct messaging (‘I’, ‘you’, ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘them’). They use punchy sentences and repeat phrases to make their message clear. 

My message is that we'll be watching you.

This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

‘Collins St, 5p.m.’ by John Brack

My message is that local farmers like me need your support.

This is crazy. I shouldn't be here telling you this. I should be on my farm growing my crops for you city people to enjoy. Yet you buy third-rate produce from overseas because it’s cheaper. How can you?

You have almost sent me broke and are forcing me to sell my stuff at cost so you can get a stupid bargain. But I'm doing okay compared to some. Farmers are suffering. Farmers are going bankrupt. Outback towns are collapsing. We’re starting to disappear, and all you can think about as you leave work with your expensive coats and your fat paychecks is whether you can pick up a kilo of apples on special on your way home. How can you?

For two hundred years, we farmers have supported this great nation through droughts and floods and bushfires. How can you continue to make excuses and lie and say that you're buying locally, when every scrap of evidence suggests the exact opposite?

You say that you have no choice, that it’s the economy’s fault, or the supermarket’s, or the fancy online home delivery service you use. If that’s true, then take steps to change things for the better. Because if you don’t, farming in this country will no longer exist. And that is something I don’t want to think about.

Write like you’re an activist, using the painting as a starting point. Find a cause to talk about and give a passionate and emotional speech. Make it personal, be clear about sides, and get your point of view across!