Why is activism ’COOL’?
Within the lecture ’How to be Active in Community’, scholarship holders and participants of Hemofarm Foundation Mentorship Programme listened to Srđa Popović, one of the founders of the student movement ’Otpor!’, executive director of the Centre for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), and since recently, Rector of St. Andrews University in Scotland, who spoke about how music, anti-war movement but also Tolkien’s ’Lord of the Rings’ turned him towards activism.

‘Activism starts in your head, at the moment when you realize that no one else will change the things that bother you, that it has to be you!’, said Srđa to the scholarship holders, reminding them that anything can serve as inspiration, in Russia, Panama, or Serbia, and that precisely everyday problems encourage us to do something good for ourselves, for our environment and community. The world is not changed by political elite or armies, but by some kids without whom there would be no racial, women’s or LGBT rights, and Srđa illustrated this by numerous examples from around the world and Serbia and once again pointed out that movements are the only true way to make a change.

‘If I were to win, what would be different in this building, street, city, planet?’ Within the lecture, Srđa also spoke about how to form a movement, mobilize the first few followers, who are very often more important than the leader, how to motivate them to give ideas, participate and invest without being mere followers. He pointed out that the most important and most difficult part was to always know what you want and make the change become permanent.

‘Live with better, smarter and braver ones than yourself. And never stop learning’ – while speaking about his role models, people who inspired him and with whom he worked, from whom he learned and with whose support he developed, Srđa spoke about activism in Serbia, about how it used to be a shame to be an activist in the past, about unwillingness to change, inertia, how success is unforgiven. ‘Do not ever accept to live with that‘, said Srđa Popović to the young people.

On the topic of activism in the era of digital revolution and extremely rapid technological progress, Srđa emphasized that ‘clicktivism’ was not activism, that one ‘like’ would not save nearly extinct species and that the change was possible only if there was a person in the real world doing something to make the change. This is at the same time the strength of every movement.

‘Why is activism cool? Because it changes your perception of the world and yourself. You realize that the world can change and that you matter. It changes things and affects the quality of your life. Activism brings you into contact with interesting people and once you win – you get self-confidence for everything else in life’, Srđa Popović told the young people.

Foreign Policy Magazine listed Srđa Popović as one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers”. Srđa was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the World Economic Forum in Davos included him in their “Young Global Leader” list. Srđa is also the author of recently published book ‘Blueprint for Revolution’, which is a fun and humorous look at nonviolent activism worldwide.