An active citizen needs to learn at school about two crucial matters: empathy and social activism

by , under Enrique Tessieri

If we look at history and today’s Europe and globally, it becomes clear that most people who went to school that too many never learned about empathy and social activism. A positive example of the latter is Elin Ersson, who refused to take a seat on a flight before they removed an Afghanistan deported asylum seeker off the plane. 

Veronika Honkasalo, a Left Alliance Helsinki city councilperson, was recently quoted as saying in Kansan Uutiset that in light of the low turnout of demonstrators during the Trump-Putin summit, it would be important for schools to teach their pupils how to exercise their civic rights by becoming active citizens.

In countries like Russia and others where human rights abuses are the norm, their citizens are not left with many choices if they want to express their opinions.

In Argentina, where I was born, living under a dictatorship supported by the United States, gave you three choices in the face of social unrest: stay silent, emigrate or join a guerrilla movement and start killing people.

While all three choices are bad, the latter about killing people for a cause raises a lot of ethical and moral questions. Can you kill another human being and live with such a deed for the rest of your life?

My heroes aren’t Rambo or the Terminator and other creations of the Hollywood culture industry. For me, social activist that changed history were people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Sophie Scholl of the White Rose Movement, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, James Baldwin, Rodolfo Walsh, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and many, many others.

All of these latter examples show us that a person can challenge a system that is oppressive and appears invincible.


Migrant Tales will begin to highlight more stories about social activism. One way of doing this is by sharing stories of struggles and social activism.

We hope to hear and publish your story.


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