Nimue Brown: The importance of celebrating each and every win

By Nimue Brown

Art by Tom Brown, see more work at hopelessmaine.com

Celebration is a vital part of what we’re doing. It might seem indulgent. It might seem like a waste of precious time, energy and resources, but I promise you, it isn’t and here’s why. Not only do we need to pause and celebrate our own success, but we need to do it where other people can see us celebrating.

There’s a lot going wrong right now. This is crushing and demoralising. Even the tiniest of wins is something to offset the overall misery with, and we all need this.

Wins remind us that we can in fact win – it may seem obvious, but it stands repeating. We need to remind ourselves that on every single front where people and the planet are struggling and suffering, things could get better. We could win those too. Any fight not definitively lost, is still potentially winnable.

When you celebrate a win publicly, you make yourself more visible to other people who are trying to fix and improve things. One of the things most likely to crush an activist is the sense that it’s just them and that they have to fix EVERYTHING on their own, probably this week. The enormity of what we can’t do is grinding people down. Celebrate your win and you remind everyone else that you’re over here doing your bit, and they aren’t alone, and somebody else is working on some of the issues they can’t get to.

Celebrating a win also draws it to the attention of non-revolutionary people. Now, there are lots of reasons why many people are not trying to fight back at the moment. Exhaustion, and apathy are certainly on the list. Seeing someone else winning can help convince a person that it’s not hopeless to try, that it worth resisting. Visible celebrations can inspire people to participate.

One of the biggest problems we’re up against, is the austerity story of scarcity combined, weirdly, with a story of infinite resource and growth. That these two stories don’t align doesn’t seem to be registering.  We could feed and shelter everyone, but we can’t have limitless growth. We’re being told that we can’t afford to care for the vulnerable but we could have limitless growth. Government and media combine to keep telling us that cutting back is the only way, capitalism and exploitation are the only way. We’re being sold a ‘good life’ that is about working yourself to death for consumer goods that have inbuilt obsolescence. If we want more people to put these mad stories aside and seek kinder, more sustainable ways of living, we have to challenge these core stories about how the world works. We have to demonstrate that other options exist.

Talking about our wins challenges the core narratives of growth and austerity. Every time we can show people helping each other and making a difference, we challenge the idea that modern life is all about selfish individualism. Every time we collectively give money to a cause, and fund it to make something happen, we challenge the idea that it’s all about the market. Every protest that changes things, every petition that gets results – they all demonstrate that there is more to life than the narrow stories of greed and profit that currently dominate political thinking.

Every win is evidence that we’re not spouting hot air. We’re not daydreaming idealists with no grasp of reality. Our way of doing things works. Every win that we share shows other people what can be done, and has the power to inspire and encourage others.

Celebrate. Celebrate publicly, and with enthusiasm. Take the time to enjoy every win you see going past, and to help others celebrate any time they seem to be winning. Personal wins, as well as campaigning wins, and no matter what the scale. Cheer loudly every time something goes the right way. However quiet and subtle your revolution is, there should be some singing and clapping as well!