A FIVE-MINUTE HANDBOOK FOR MOTORCYCLE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
 

NO ONE IS AS INTERESTED AS YOU ARE

Nowadays everyone's attention span and time are limited. Be grateful if you get anyone's attention on our issue, even for a few seconds. Some wannabe activists come in like a lion, then disappear faster than sh*t through a short dog. Take whatever you get from any volunteer. Praise and thank them. Don't be disappointed when they drift away. They will. But some come back. Keep the light on for them. The AMA stinks. So does MRF, NCOM, ABATE, and any or all of the rest of the MROs. At the same time, all of these organizations are the best thing since sliced bread. We won't keep or retrieve our rights without them. It's normal to love them and hate them at the same time. Be sure your complaints about them go to the person who can do something about your problem. Never give up your membership - it's much easier to fix things from the inside. Avoid griping in public -- our opponents love it when we do. Always handle our dirty laundry behind closed doors. Always.

THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET

There is no single answer, rule, or solution. Never has been, and never will be. None of us will write the single brilliant letter to the editor or internet message that will miraculously turn everything around. Keep steadily busy. Do as much as you can, whenever you can. Anything you do counts. But some things count more than others. Find out what counts. Then do it more.

THERE IS NO FINAL VICTORY

Preserving Bikers Rights is an ongoing PROCESS. We are winning and losing battles during this process, but the war will never be over. Becoming active to keep your rights is a lot like cleaning your house: it's thankless and boring work, but necessary. Like dirt, the Safety Nazi crowd will just keep coming back. Forever.

Your activism will keep us winning more than losing. Our opponents count on wearing us down. They love it when one of us (not you, of course) gets discouraged and drops out. When you fully understand and accept the reality that Biker Rights is a never-ending struggle, you're automatically in the top 5 percent of all Bikers Rights defenders. Congratulations.

BIKERS RIGHTS ACTIVISM IS BORING

It's especially boring when you are doing things that really make a difference. Most of us want drama. We want to be entertained. Phone bank calling, precinct walking, going to Bikers Rights grassroots seminars -- suddenly, even a trip to the dentist for a root canal will start to look better. Sorry, but there is no workaround on this aspect. Freedom is not free. It's a pain in the ass. Get used to it, get over it, and get to work.

USE THE POWER OF FEAR AND GUILT

Bikers are susceptible to these emotions. Awaken sleeping Bikers Rights activists by tapping these powerful emotions. Fear and guilt will move mountains - and fill the collection plate, and recruit new members. If Bikers won't become active for themselves, ask them to do it for their families. For their children. For their country. And -- this tactic works! -- ask them to do it for YOU.

POLITICIANS ONLY CARE ABOUT VOTES AND MONEY

In-person visits, phone calls, and snail-mailed, handwritten letters to elected folks help -- because politicians know that if you take this much trouble, you and your family and friends will also vote.

HOT TIP:

Make yourself known to politicians for issues other than Bikers rights. Don't present yourself as a single-issue person. Praise and help politicians on THEIR pet projects. Then, when Motorcycle issues come up, your opinion will seem especially credible. Otherwise, you will soon be stereotyped and discounted as a single-issue voter.

ANOTHER HOT TIP:

Politicians have to explain why they vote Yes or No on proposed laws. Sometimes they really need your help in composing explanations to their constituents. If you want your elected official to vote Yes, on a seemingly unpopular Helmet Modification Bill, she might be more willing to vote your way if you give her a "back door" -- a good, common sense explanation that she can give to all of her constituents.

GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN OFFICE IN THE FIRST PLACE

If we have the right people in power, anti-biker laws will not be passed. Period. The laws are what matter. This concept is so simple that many folks can't see it, just like they can't "see" the air they breathe. The anti-rights crowd can hold all the news conferences they want, but nothing will happen unless they can pass more laws. This fact tells you about the how, what, where, when, why, and with whom you should be spending your time, energy, and money. Politicians pass laws. Therefore, you must get involved in politics to protect your rights. There is just no way to get around this. Sorry. I don't like politics either. Bummer!

STOP THE SABER RATTLING -- NOW!

Avoid those shrill folks who sound threatening or talk about doomsday. It's a waste of your time. These noisy folks remind me of a couple in a failing marriage who only talk about a getting a divorce instead of talking about their real problems. If they don't solve their problems, separation or divorce becomes the inevitable outcome. Some people get pumped up on silly fantasy scenarios. I do not.

ARM YOURSELF WITH ACCURATE INFORMATION

Paradoxically, bad information or disinformation is a plague in the so-called Information Age. When you write or talk about Bikers Rights issues, use only the facts, the truth, and the provable. Verify any quotes that you use. Back up your generalizations with powerful and specific examples. Get on the internet, and get your like-minded friends online. Join several of the hundreds of net communities that will keep you informed instantly and completely about our special issues. Information is power!

IGNORE MEDIA SPIN

It's far too easy to go bonkers reacting to the latest media-driven crisis. Don't let the media push your buttons. The activist pros I know do not overreact to crises. In fact, most of the ultra-pros that I know do not react at all to media hysteria. Bashing the media about their bias is not productive. Some Bikers use media bias as an excuse to do nothing -- because the situation seems so overwhelming and hopeless. Truth is, if you are a busy activist -- already steadily doing stuff that matters -- you will find the media reacting to YOU. Be friendly and polite with them -- not hostile. Become a reliable source of information for them. And just keep on being ACTIVE.

JUST SHOW UP

It's been said that 80 percent of success is showing up. Being there. Showing up to vote. Showing up at a Bikers Rights seminar. At your Senator/Delegates office. At a city council meeting. My father's favorite motto: "Your actions speak so loud that I can't hear a word you're saying." Your "silent" activism can be a model for others. What will your 3 riding buddies think when they find out you spent an afternoon handing out brochures door-to-door for a pro-biker politician?

DON'T MESS WITH TRUE BELIEVERS - THE HIDDEN BONUS OF BIKERS RIGHTS ACTIVISM

The more involved you get with freedom, issues, the more you will realize that your single issue actually complements and protects other human rights issues. Personally, I am deeply offended by many aspects of today's culture. When I focus my activism on Bikers Rights, I can often sense I am making a measurable difference. All rights -- like all humans -- are connected.

WHEN IN DOUBT, JUST DO SOMETHING

Sometimes we don't know what will work. Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Don't hesitate to try something new and innovative -- get it out on the table! Often your finest essay or brilliant letter will not be acknowledged, or you will just get a form letter response. But that letter to the editor that you dashed off in a few minutes appears in tomorrow's newspaper! Go figure. Better yet, try not to figure. Trust yourself, trust your instincts -- and just do something.

Copyright © 2000 by JASPAR@aol.com All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution is permitted with this copyright notice attached.

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