When Words Aren’t Enough

Well-respected and irrefutable active citizen, Nelson Mandela once shared, “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely daydreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” Action following intent may not be a brand new concept, but it’s important to return to this foundation when moving forward feels like an impossible feat.

A vision is a powerful statement - words strung together that create something for us to grab onto, a dream we can get behind. This is, however, only half of the equation. We’ve spoken to the need for a vision in the past: a completely student-led program, a program culture - based on values of justice - influencing your campus, or reaching a fully inclusive society.

We’re no stranger to the potency of words and ideas. We are emboldened by historic speeches of past social movements. We are moved when we witness stories of those wise and weathered leaders and activists among us. We soak up words of advice given from mentors or role models. It’s true: language that gives rise to a vision carries power. But it’s also true that words can only take us so far.

Once you’ve established a vision, or a dream of what you hope to accomplish, there’s a need to act - sometimes urgently, sometimes slowly and deliberately. Regardless of pace, one without the other holds a threat of emptiness.

Constant action isn’t easy and can often be exhausting. Creating systems of structure and support can be helpful in order to succeed. For example, identify your top three daily objectives (ensuring they’re SMART, of course) and ask a friend to help hold you accountable, join a group that meets regularly to discuss and take informed action around community identified needs, or follow a national platform that will give you ideas for action to meet a vision established by a movement.

Achieving your vision requires articulating intended outcomes and acting accordingly. Whether you’re a leader or a member of a group or movement - silence and inaction is a luxury, vision and action is power.