We Always Have Choices


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 planes years.

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).

Thanks to CTVnews.ca for this image.
Thanks to CTVnews.ca for this image.

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:

Children’s book author Mo Willems tweeted a drawing of his iconic Knuffle Bunny character wearing a safety pin:
Children’s book author Mo Willems tweeted a drawing of his iconic Knuffle Bunny character wearing a safety pin.

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. ]

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.
Thanks to AZQuotes.com for the image.
Thanks to AZQuotes.com for the image.
  • 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.  

26 Responses

  1. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    I think a lot of people must be wondering what they can do now that what feels like disaster has struck. We experienced the same thing here in UK when the Brexit vote came out. So many people never believed it could happen so they hadn’t given a thought to how they might feel if it did. They’re still whinging and only a few are thinking constructively about how to make the best of the opportunities the result gave us.

    You’re in the same position in America and, whether you recognise them or not, there are a lot of good opportunities inherent in the result. Okay, there are a lot of very big disadvantages too, and one of the biggest is that the winner of the contest is someone who’re really out for himself first and foremost and he’ll use anyone and everyone to further that end.

    Campaigning is good if it makes people aware. But it shouldn’t just be as a contest. That won’t get anywhere. You need to be more subtle than that and highlight the defects of policies that get proposed in such a way as to undermine his supporters’ faith in him. Demonstrate why his ideas don’t work, whilst accepting that some of them will work. And whittle away at the cracks so that the disillusionment that will inevitably come when those with unrealisable hopes understand that they are still losers start to give up supporting him.

    Sure, all this requires some tolerance as you have to let his supporters crow for a while. But most of all it requires Persistence and Perseverance and a consistency of message.

    Good Luck America! And may the gods help the rest of us too.

  2. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Thanks, Janet. There is also this, calling representatives and others. Today is a “Flood the Phones” day.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I looked into that, but had a hard time finding what the message was. And was it a call to our own reps or to McConnell and Ryan’s offices? Have you called?

      • Merril Smith
        | Reply

        There are various “scripts,” if you want to use them. You can call your own reps, McConnell, Ryan–whoever. Right now, I think many people are concentrating on asking Trump to rescind his appointment of Bannon. You can also thank legislators who have stood up against Trump. People have been calling other days, of course, too.
        Didn’t the Tea Party people do this kind of thing? If a representative phone line is flooded with phone calls–especially more than on one day, I would think–then he/she might listen. Apparently phone calls are more effective than e-mails and letters.

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          Yes indeed they are. But if campaigns like this continue, I’m sure the staffers will find a way around it.

  3. Sharon Lippincott
    | Reply

    Great action strategies Janet. Lists like this remind us of choices and give us hope.

    May I add one more item to your list of things we can do?

    LAUGH! Often and hard. Not about the Trump stuff, but at silly little things. Laughter keeps us well and maintains a sense of humor, which, in my opinion, fosters heart health in every respect. Best of all, frequent laughter fits into the busiest of schedules!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Laughter, of course. Good one. Was it Norman Cousins who wrote about the healing power of laughter? Or was his thing Vitamin C?

      • Sharon Lippincott
        | Reply

        Norman Cousins left a legacy of laughter. The Vitamin C hoax is considered by some to be the dark side of Linus Pauling’s legacy.

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          Don’t know about any Vitamin C hoax. Peace Corps swore by it when I was there. Interesting.

          • Ian Mathie

            The British Royal Navy swore by limes, and look where that got them! What they did was no hoax, all the same .

          • Janet Givens

            Just one more note on the Vitamin C thing. Maybe we’ll convert Sharon. 🙂 I usually take 5000 mg at the first sign of a cold coming on. And I usually don’t get colds. This year though, when I felt that cold coming, I choked on the first Vitamin C tablet I was chewing and so didn’t take any more. As a result, I was laid up for over three weeks; couldn’t sing, couldn’t even go to rehearsals, couldn’t even go to my singing lessons to help me become that mezzo soprano I wrote about. I tried zinc, which my NP DiL recommends, but still. So, I’m a true believer. I will just have to find tablets I can swallow and not gag on. Care to give it a go, Sharon. Or, maybe down south, colds aren’t the demons they are up here in the north.

          • Ian Mathie

            You should have sucked all the juice out of a couple of limes! 🙂 Pretty disgusting, I hear you say? Well, with things like colds we work on the principle that if the cure is worse than the ailment you don’t get sick. It works a real treat every time! Try it.

          • Janet Givens

            The only way I eat lines, Ian, is mixed with sweetened condensed milk and sour cream, then poured into a graham cracker shell. Yum.

          • Ian Mathie

            If it gets the lime into you, that’s fine. 🙂 Just don’t cook it, that destroys the Vitamin C, even if it tastes nice 🙂

  4. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    How about me? Self-care is important as you point out and being selective of what I hear.

    As I was preparing a spaghetti meal I heard Pres. Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s dialogue live on the news. Other than valedictory addresses such as these, I am tuning out other political blather. One of the benefits of a democracy is speaking our minds, but we don’t have to hear all of it.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Indeed we don’t, Marian. I’ve found the best news for me is the one that’s a few days old (at least), giving the dust time to settle. What a great use of the positive aspects of the word discrimination. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

  5. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Thanks, Janet. I don’t have much of value to add at the moment, but wanted to say I admire your renewed spirit and energy, and appreciate all of your suggestions. I did have lunch with a Trump supporter today, and have another scheduled for tomorrow. Then, on Monday, I get to fuel back up by having lunch with a diehard liberal octogenarian and his equally liberal basset hound (who has his own blog). This, I already know, will be the highlight of my week. In between, I’m going to follow your advice and try to schedule a massage. Boy do I ever need one. I haven’t been taking great care of myself this week, mentally, physically, or spiritually, and I’m feeling it. Best, T

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Tim. I am really eager to hear what your Trump supporters say about their decision. Was it ‘faith’ based? Was it naive? Are we really missing something? Really. I’d love to know. Too bad we don’t get any Trump fans commenting here. It’d add some color.

  6. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Nicholas Kristof, the NY Times columnist and reporter, posted this on the 17th as well. It’s a great list; It’s called “A 12-Step Program for Responding to President-Elect Trump.” I’ve already attended to many of his suggestions. CLICK ON “a great list” for the link; for some reason, it didn’t underline.

    take a look.

  7. Lynne Spreen
    | Reply

    This is a wonderful list, Janet. So many ideas. Thank you.
    Here’s another, although it’s more a thought than action: consider that many good people may have voted for this —- person. (Whew! I stayed positive.) And their reason is that they are discouraged about jobs, wage inequality, etc. They didn’t trust Hillary to effect sweeping change and maybe didn’t fully appreciate how — unusual—- DT is. (ANOTHER victory for self-control!) So they threw a Hail Mary or a hand grenade at the system, hoping their kids might once again have a shot at doing better than their parents. If DT can accomplish the economic improvements he promised Joe and Jane Sixpack (i.e. the 99%) that would truly be wonderful. Suspending disbelief, I’m trying to see their side and employ love and forgiveness, assuming this was their dream. Because I can’t and won’t believe my countrymen are as — confused — as they may see.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Lynne and welcome. I’m glad you appreciated the list. Do take a look at the one Nicholas Kristof wrote for the NYTs. Some overlap, but also good stuff.

      Your suggestion to revisit how we think of those who voted for Trump is of course a good one. It reminds me of an article I read that identified four distinct groups that supported T. Certainly the disenfranchised was one of them. The press seemed to cover them early post-election. Now they are focused on the white supremacists. It’s all quite sad. Tomorrow, Ill have a new post — finding what we can be grateful for in among this morass. I hope you’ll come back.

  8. Carol Bodensteiner
    | Reply

    Great ideas, Janet. I’m walking a lot – further and faster – and using the time to consider my own reactions to the election and where and how I want to go forward. And I’ve subscribed to your blog – can’t believe I hadn’t done so already. Being vigilant is critical. I’ll be interested in your update on how well President Trump delivers on the promises of Candidate Trump.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Carol, hello. You must have snuck in while I wasn’t looking. Sorry for the delay in responding. It’s great to have you. Welcome. Thanks too for subscribing. I look forward to hearing your voice

  9. […] other than that long list I offered mid-November in We Always Have Choices, we can’t yet be sure what that will be. We are surrounded by ambiguity. Uncomfortable, […]

  10. […] my own advice to STAND UP and BE HEARD, (from We Always Have Choices) I’ve begun to SPEAK OUT with my […]

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