Viva la resistance!
For those of you who don’t like loose ends, this is a follow-up to prior political posts. One was called “What To Do” and had a picture of a yo-yo. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve decided. And this picture of good ol’ Greenpeace’s stunt is self-explanatory. Resist.
Resist, not fight. For me, it’s an important distinction. Fighting implies militant violence. Resistance implies remaining peacefully on the defense. Maybe it’s a six-year-old’s argument (he started it!) but I like it. Trump’s infantile behavior seems to goad my inner child and I have to keep from chanting “liar liar, pants on fire!” When he goes low, I want to go lower.
But instead, I’m taking action beyond the recent Women’s March. Here’s how:
Dive in. I’ve started an action group with some people from my building. I’ve called the offices of congressional members and sent emails and postcards alike. I have no idea what I’m doing, to be sure, but I don’t think that’s too important. I’m making it up as I go along. It’s best not to think too far ahead, about the more daunting aspects, like what the hell I’m going to say when all these people are sitting in my living room next week. It’s the passion and motivation of it that matter. Go where the energy is. Sometimes you need to act first and think later.
Don’t be afraid. It’s scary to stand up and speak out, especially to friends or family members who might have different views. But I know you’re out there, you who’ve gone politically silent on Facebook. You know who you are. Come out. You’re not alone. I remember physically shaking as I stood by myself on a corner, a young twenty-something, handing out flyers to protest the circus. I wasn’t ready. I think my heart was in the right place, but P.E.T.A. was a little too radical a choice for trying out my activist’s voice. It was either the flyers or a bloody tiger suit. Geez. Start small instead. And find like-minded people. There’s strength in numbers.
Put on selective blinders. If you’re a sensitive soul who winds up too upset or too angry reading the opposing views on social media – well – don’t read everything. You know whose posts or tweets to avoid. The likelihood of changing anyone’s mind is very slim. As a writer, that’d be a plus, but I don’t see that as the point. But stirring people into action, people that already feel the same way as me, might be. And don’t review or count your contacts to see who has unfriended you. Who needs the heartache? Let it go.
Don’t live in a bubble. Try not to only surround yourself with people who think exactly as you do. I have some friends with whom I can still have polite, civil discourse. My cleaning person and I have an unspoken war with the television channel. When I leave the house, it’s set to MSNBC. When I come back, it’s on Fox News. One of these days, I’m going to offer to watch an hour of Fox if she’ll watch an hour of “liberal, dishonest media.” It’s good to know what the other side is saying.
Educate yourself. Understanding what’s going on has been like time traveling back to my tenth grade American Civics class. I read somewhere that I needed to call both of my senators and one house member. (Two? I have two senators? Who knew? Well yeah, I guess I remember learning that.) It’s okay if you need a refresher course. Take it from someone who’s never followed much politics. And if you remember my writing that I’d get a hold of my addiction to cable news after the Inauguration, I lied. I was wrong. I’m an adult. I can admit that. But I can’t stop watching now. I still can’t follow most arguments for or against the electoral college and I had to look up xenophobia, but for the most part, I can now hold my own in a political conversation.
So, my mom is almost giddy with pride at finally being able to pass the baton to me. In my defense, my generation and the ones adjacent to it, grew up taking a lot for granted. We’ve always had the right to vote, attend public schools and watch and let our children watch Sesame Street. We’ve lived in a time when racism was properly in the closet and gay people could come out of it. We listened to your stories of the sixties and some of us felt envious. It’s not that we were uninterested in fighting, we just never had anything to fight for. Not like this.
Critics of the march and some media wonder if the protestors can last, organize themselves into a movement. They say there are too many individual groups resisting for their own reasons. Civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigration rights. We need a unifying message, a solidarity of purpose, a simple soundbite. Umm, this is just me taking a stab at it here, but a single word? How ’bout … democracy?