This question is asked at every event activists have been taking part in lately: events related to privacy, the NSA, over-prosecution, protecting the fourth amendment and so much more. We all get asked by media, passers by, family, friends, and anyone needing clarification.
The problem with this particular question is that many people show up to protests and related events for different reasons. This can lead to confusion from the media and really anyone who isn't involved.
Sometimes I hear people give direct answers to the question, sometimes they show annoyance as if the answer should be obvious, most of the times people dance around the question with very long winded explanations. So I am going to try and address it with an answer that is personal to me. It's the big reason I do anything activist related. There are individual events and actions that have more specific answers, but if I had to answer this question at those events I would probably still include the bigger reason.
I believe that the world will be a better place when the majority of people are active. The word active means a lot to me here. It means that these people are working for causes, going to events, influencing the public and their governments, and generally spreading the ideas they believe in. The more people we can get out to activist events, and online participating in the conversation the better off we will all be. Democracy is a process, and we need everyone involved for it to work.
The specific causes and ideas people are working for don't really matter to me in this answer. That doesn't mean I don't care about them, just that they aren't relevant to the answer. My belief is that the majority of people are good if given a chance to be. So even if a lot of people with ideas we don't like end up getting activated by our actions, that doesn't matter. The overall effect will be a majority of good people doing good things.
When I am asked the question at events by people walking by or media I can give specific answers based on the context of the event, but in general the bigger reason is why I am there. A lot of the time I will follow the answer up with questions for them: What would get you out? -or- What cause do you care about enough to put in some effort? Depending on their answer I can usually point them in a direction that might get them active in something. I always hope it does anyways, but we all know apathy is a real problem and one that is standing directly in our way.
In the end the only thing that matters to me is that everyone starts taking part.
Image by Hossam el-Hamalawy