In my last post (Tolerance) I compared the trauma of 11/9 with that of 9/11. I also compared the consequences that many are anticipating with post-Reconstruction “Jim Crow” laws in the south. Either is enough to make anyone despair. But, fear not, for today I bring you tidings to quell that despair.
Thanks to the Internet, we have today opportunities for action that Americans of compassion and heart did not have in 1875. Let’s start with what we can do NOW, today, to help soften the blow of the next few
For starters, know that we still have choices. We always have choices.
We can move to Canada. Cape Breton Island has made a singularly spectacular offer. For me, this holds more humor than appeal. I’m actually eager to stay right here and fight for peace and justice. Besides, those of us who can afford to move to Canada are NOT the ones most likely to be affected by most of the coming changes. Except for global warming (which I’ll save for a post in December).
So what can you do if you’re not moving to Canada?
Well, here at home you can wear a large safety pin on your shirt or coat. It’s a simple step to take. There are numerous stories about this, but here’s the one that first caught my attention. And here’s an image that was Tweeted by children’s book author Mo Willems:
It’s a simple act, true. But one that brings a sense of solidarity if not safety. Beyond the simple safety pin, I’ve come up with
two three ideas I hope you’ll consider. Undergirding them all is the idea that:
We must speak out.
1. Speak out with your money. There are countless organization that are now bracing for attack. I implore you to get out your checkbook and shout real loud with it. [And please feel free to add other organizations that you care about. Use the Comments section below. These are just the ones, in alpha order, that seem most visible to me. ]
- The ACLU
- Border Angels
- Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
- Friends of the Earth — an international network of environmental groups
- Planned Parenthood
2. Speak out with your time. There are so many ways to get involved, it may be hard to choose. Check out this initial list of ideas [again, feel free to add others in the Comments section below. Links are helpful but not mandatory].
- Get involved in politics at the local level.
- Run for your school board. Run for your town council. Sit on your Planning Commission. These are time consuming and sometimes thankless responsibilities and for too long, we’ve let others do the work. It’s time for the Free Riders to ante up (I’ll do a post on The Tragedy of the Commons, which addresses the Free Rider idea, soon).
- Help strengthen your party of choice from the inside. I’m not opposed to Republicans. I was married to one for 23 years and count a number of them among my friends; but they are all of the Nelson Rockefeller ilk. I cast my lot with Democrats and having that choice is important.
- Michael Moore put out an interesting five-point plan the other day. His fourth point was “get inside the Democratic Party and take it back.” You start by joining. Then you attend meetings. Then you find an office you can fill. Then you work at the polls. Then you find candidates you can get behind. Or, you run for office yourself.
- Please know that the way our government is designed, third parties rarely fare well. But the main ones evolve, they change, and they do so often. It’s time to change both Parties for the better. Get involved.
- Speak out in peaceful protest and demonstration. There’s a “Million Women March” scheduled for January 22 in Washington DC. For more information, here’s their FB page.
- And here’s a video from the ACLU outlining your right to peaceful protest, with suggestions to help keep you safe. How terribly sad that we need this.
- Increase your knowledge base; this means, do your homework.
- There are a lot of talking heads out there, each one with an agenda, even if it’s only to make money for their owner. Try to decipher their agenda before you drink their Kool-Aid.
- Stay vigilant.
- Read up on the issues. And don’t just read papers that you already agree with. Read ones that challenge your assumptions. Read what the “other side” is saying. How are they seeing the future? I recommend The Wall Street Journal for starters. You can follow Reagan’s former speech writer, Peggy Noonan, on Twitter; and there are a number of conservative columnists at The New York Times, David Brooks the most familiar. Nicholas Kristof offered a good list in his NY Times column recently.
- Talk to Trump voters. Rather, LISTEN to Trump voters. You may think them misguided. That’s OK; they think the same of you.
- Try to listen for the emotion behind their words, for THAT is the only level at which you can hold a difficult conversation. I’ve been trying that in spurts this past week and what’s struck me the most is hearing how much faith there is in a candidate I consider to be conspicuously mentally ill at best (though I hesitate to denigrate the mentally ill); Machiavellian at worst. They believe they have found the leader they’ve yearned for. Faith in the future, I hear over and over. And I remember when Hope was the watchword of the Obama campaign. So, I can (sort of) empathize. I try.
As part of my staying vigilant homework, I’ve begun a list of the many promises Trump made during his campaign. I hope you’ll add to that list also when I post it the week after Thanksgiving. I plan on revisiting the list monthly for as long as he remains in power. Don’t worry; I don’t plan to do it here. It’s just for me to stay abreast.
3. Speak out when you need to take care of yourself during this stressful time.
- Take care of your physical needs.
- Just as I got myself a massage last week, you too can identify what it is you need to do to be good to yourself.
- A bubble bath?
- A great meal?
- A hike in the woods?
- Whatever you choose, get plenty of rest, for our work in the months and years ahead will require energy.
- Take care of your spiritual and emotional needs too. I believe both of these, though different, are best covered by listening deeply to yourself.
- Value your serenity. We each have our ways of achieving this. Meditation, prayer, a walk in the woods. Know what works for you. It’ll also be important in the months and years to come.
- Take time to tune out the noise.
- Know where your feet are (that’s code for, “stay grounded.”)
- Practice kindness.
- Practice gratitude for the everyday things.
- Have a cup of tea.
If you enjoy poetry, here’s The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendall Berry, compliments of Shirley Hershey Showalter’s recent post.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
HOW ABOUT YOU? What have you been doing this past week to nurture yourself during this stressful time? And please remember to add your favorite organizations below.
Next: We’ll focus on Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, next week. I’ll return to “Staying vigilant” the week after. Who knows, maybe things will have changed significantly.
A note for the Tweeters among us. You may have noticed I used a lot of Click to Tweet links in yesterday’s post. Today I’m trying something different. If you care to tweet this post (and I thank you if you do), I suggest you just copy a line you like, click the Twitter icon below, and paste your favorite line when the window opens. Voila. Easy, peasy.