“He makes it
Look so easy, it looks so clean
He moves like God’s immaculate machine”
— from Paul Simon’s “One Trick Pony”

“When a person expends the least possible movement on a certain act, that is grace.” — Anton Chekov, in a letter to Maxim Gorky

Most people aren’t geniuses. Most cannot juggle multiple tasks at the same time. That’s fine. All activists need to be is a one trick pony, as per the 1980 Paul Simon song. Tackling a single job with unswerving focus is quite enough. Every contribution counts. Just do it with a sense of grace — blessing and enjoyment — so that your activism is fun and self-nurturing.

There’s another ingredient, though, which might be a bit more challenging. And it’s very necessary for your activism to be effective. That is, one needs to put one’s soul into whatever socially-conscious activity one embraces. The Urban Dictionary defines “pony up” as usually referring to staking money on something one supports. Like writing a check for a good cause. Well, in the spirit of the first paragraph’s thrust directly above, that should be applauded. And should suffice for a given person. That’s an admirable, necessary gesture, as a rule, But when I talk about the need to put one’s soul on the line I’m talking about those who would like to lead the front lines.

What does that mean exactly? The word soul, granted, is easy enough to bandy about. Well, I’d say that today the investment of soul must include a sense of urgency. Another consideration is whether or not one’s activism is one’s primary or exclusive focus. One can have the members of one’s family be a higher priority than, say, organizing a given event. But it’s usually possible to give both realms of one’s life an equal status. Though that means personal comprises will rear their heads. Speaking of which, a 24 x 7 attitude is in order. Whether one is directly involved in some activist engagement or not, one’s mind — at least part of one’s mind — can always be on causing trouble, planting seeds, etc. Even in your dreams your activist imagination will flourish.

There’s more, of course, but perhaps that’s enough for now. Just a review for your kind consideration. I’m open to discussing all the nooks and crannies that come to the reader’s mind, but I can tell you that if you put your soul into what you’re doing all will be easy and clean when push comes to shove. You’ll be clear at each step with love, your resolve will not waver, and you’ll be as smart as you can be — and braver than you can possibly imagine — about the task at hand.

You’ll win, even if you aren’t victorious.

Rachel Oxman is a member of the Oxman Collective. She can be reached at

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