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for people who care about the West

Andy Robinson's tips for activists

  Pick your fights. It pains me to say this, but you must develop an aversion to lost causes. If you can't see your way to victory - even if that victory won't occur for years or decades - pick another fight. To maintain your sanity and stamina, focus your energy where it will do the most good.

Go easy on the ideological purity. Don't get sucked into petty arguments with co-workers and allies. The history of the social change movement is filled with campaigns that failed because allies could only agree - only! - on 90 percent of the program. If you're spending a lot of time arguing about turf, or the wording of your news release, or how to divide up the credit, something is wrong. Check your ego at the door and focus on areas of agreement, not disagreement.

Learn how to juggle. Sort through the pile on your desk daily and put the most pressing items on top; deal with them first. Buy a calendar and use it. Don't go to meetings just for the sake of being there. Spend some time each day raising money. Keep track of the bank balance, but don't be obsessed. Say "thank you" whenever possible, for any reason. When you make a mistake, accept responsibility and solve the problem. Most of all, keep your wits about you. When in doubt, think.

Don't be a drudge. Last and best, give yourself lots of credit, then take a long break. Hike, swim, sleep, dance, ride a bike, go see a movie, make love with your sweetheart, cook an extravagant meal, stay up all night and read a good book. Forget about the sorry state of the world for a few hours, and revel in the wondrous state of the world.