What I Know About Activism
Activism is exhausting.
It is 5 weeks in, and that is what 52% of the country is beginning to understand. We are like rats on a wheel, trying to scan the landscape all the time to ensure we don’t miss some news report, some new action, some new threat. Waking up each morning to a few moments of calm before remembering that our new reality is a politic we didn’t sign up for, we didn’t support, we don’t embody. We are beginning to understand what it means to live in fear, and constant fear comes with fatigue.
I remember the morning of 9/11 well. What I remember most was “The Awakening”. Legions of people who’d never been engaged in public service were ready to do something, anything to make the situation better- but there was no call they could answer.
So they trained. They got ready, they laid in wait. And when Katrina hit four years later, the south saw an influx of volunteers unlike anything we’d seen in modern time. Citizen volunteers did what the government could or would not.
This is where we are today. We wake up each morning feeling helpless, feeling despair set in, and while we fundamentally understand that our actions are yielding small results- the idea of 4 years of this unending assault on our lives is like a depression diagnosis.
Here is what we must do to survive: break.
Find an activism buddy. Toggle on and off for a break when you need it. Take a week off from awareness and activism and social and news mongering if you need to- take the week to be mindful and to recharge, knowing that your buddy has their eye on things. Trade.
Then come back and find a concrete plan-organize. The Resistance Calendar and Michael Moore’s recommendations are what I use- we need to be together in our actions. You don’t have to invent a new workout everyday, some days it’s ok to pop the tape in and just follow along, or to just get on the treadmill and run. You’re doing the work, the work is necessary, and your body will feel better for having done so. Just get up, run the actions and try to enjoy your life. Some of this is a numbers game, we just need you to show up- you’re never really alone on that rat wheel- we’re on a big wheel running together.
Some of our fatigue is from not knowing what to focus on next, feeling as if there are too many things for us to tackle, there are always new things coming, and that we’re not getting any traction. That’s not evidentially true-what we’re doing is chipping away. Having a solid plan of what you will do daily and then completing those tasks every day until it is muscle memory is what is going to help you maintain your sanity.
Lastly, to fight despair, turn this feeling of helplessness on its head. Of course we are not helpless. We are the electorate. They have the Senate and the Executive Office but we have the numbers. We are the majority and we sit on the right side of history. Remember that for all the evil he’s done, all the evil that’s planned, this administration is the best thing that’s happened to progressive activism in 30 years. We are engaged. We are woke. And with every phone call, with every postcard, every town hall or march, we are making change.
Take that empowerment and blow it up. There is no more antagonizing form of activism than running for office. Filling the ranks of the House and Senate and state and city offices with people of every color, every gender identity and sexuality and religion is exactly what this administration is fighting against. Allow the deviant joy of putting yourself up or helping someone else run for office propel you forward bravely. Here’s how.
Its only week 5- and if like me, you find your mind wandering, wondering if Canada would take you, if Cascadia isn’t as crazy as you always thought, if maybe its time to consider a two state solution here in the US, its time to talk real.
The country, this electorate, this Constitution and the values that make us American are worth fighting for longer than 5 weeks. If we’re ready to give up after five weeks, the America we believe we embody isn’t that strong or that true.
But it is… and you know it is, because of that bubble you hear so much about. If you need to, ask for reassurance. Remind yourself we are the majority and we have risen up before to make things right. That the power of the people is infinite. That “they” represent us. I am often reminded of how we won the Revolutionary War- by inventing new ways to fight. Then I remember that our side has the creatives and the moneymakers and the inventors.
It is only four years. Its only 18 months til midterms. The todo list you need to get through is only for today. Every time you feel despair creeping in like two small orange hands reaching through the television, remember there is nothing more terrifying to a man made of cheese than an army of rats.
And then fight like hell. Resist.