Short Note on Conscience in the Trump Era

We canˋt all do everything, but we must all do something.

Daniel McNichol
Feb 5, 2017 · 4 min read

In the course of history, there are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary actions from ordinary people. Sometimes on a massive scale. In the most recent century, WWII & the Civil Rights Movement offer two such examples. History records where we stand in these moments — & if we stood at all. These become our greatest legacies and deepest disgraces. It is ours to choose which.

D-Day (History.com) & Bloody Sunday (NBC News & New York Times)

Conscience & Moral Imperative in the Trump Era

I’m increasingly convinced that every person of conscience & sound morals in this moment must defer some degree of our self-interest & personal priorities to work to oppose the relentless onslaught of callous, hateful policies & pronouncements gushing forth from this administration ¹ ² ³ ⁴. For many — those directly imperiled by Trumpist malice — personal interest & self-preservation alone will necessitate such work. Those of us insulated from the most pressing dangers by privilege & fortune are all the more summoned to action, & should prioritize work that defends those most threatened by these transgressions.

At a moment of historical (if well-precedented) assaults on the norms of democracy, decency & humanity⁵, resistance can’t be left to the traditional categories of activists, opposition parties & interest groups. Opposition & resistance is morally incumbent upon anyone who regards themselves as a moral person ⁵ ⁶ ⁷.


There is more to be done, more causes requiring total commitment, than any one or many of us could possibly accomplish ⁸ ⁹. We can’t all serve the same role, in precisely the same struggle, but we all must serve some role. Inability to do everything shouldn’t paralyze us & prevent us from doing anything. The vast amount of work to do & ways to do it should make it easy for us all to find ways to contribute as we are best able & willing.

You might not be built for street protests¹⁰. You might feel like phoning detestable political representatives¹¹ is a fate worse than snakes.

There are still many ways to meet the moral obligation to oppose the unconscionable & inhumane forces gathering at our doorstep. These struggles may define this period in history⁵. For my generation, it might be the fight of our lives.

I’m ready for it.

(& will post a followup soon about my particular approaches to the present & future struggle.)


For now, here’s a short recap of ways to contribute:

  • Get out in the streets - cuz this is hard to ignore
  • Call Reps - it’s boring but works
  • Donate money - if you have more money than time
  • Donate time - if you have more time than money
  • Spread awareness - might seem trivial, but relaying, reiterating, reposting, retweeting messages of resistance has an impact ¹²
  • Vote with your feet & dollars - with all three branches of gov’t controlled by a GOP hellbent on dismantling safety net programs, financial regulations, environmental regulations, reproductive rights, worker’s rights, etc — it’s more important than ever for private citizens to build networks of mutual economic & interpersonal support ¹³. There are more of us than them. We’re our most abundant resource. We must be conscientious about where we expend our monetary & non-monetary resources. More on this soon, it will be a major focus of mine.
  • Attend community groups & meetings - related to above, but a more immediate & concrete option to build & reinforce these support networks.

Some further resources:

— — — — — — — — — — — —
REFERENCES:

…relentless onslaught of callous, hateful policies & pronouncements

¹ http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/01/all-trump-executive-actions-000288
² https://twitter.com/jeffmueller/status/826920269491085317
³ http://www.businessinsider.com/emotional-reactions-detained-travelers-trump-refugee-ban-released-airports-2017-1
https://www.thenation.com/article/leaked-draft-of-trumps-religious-freedom-order-reveals-sweeping-plans-to-legalize-discrimination/

…a moment of historical (if well-precedented) assaults on the norms of democracy, decency & humanity

https://niskanencenter.org/blog/trump-threat-rule-law-constitution/
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/01/31/nearly-1000-state-department-staffers-condem-trumps-travel-ban/97306024/
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/02/legal_protections_for_civil_servants_who_refuse_to_carry_out_illegal_orders.html

…more to be done, more causes requiring total commitment

https://billypenn.com/2017/01/27/how-to-turn-these-huge-philly-protest-marches-into-action/
https://www.resistancemanual.org/Resistance_Manual_Home

…might not be built for street protests

¹⁰ But I heartily recommend them for their concreteness & the sense of power & community they imbue into our otherwise isolated, atomized, often impotent lives. Also much to be said for escaping comfort zones, etc.

…detestable political representatives

¹¹ http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Toomey-flunks-moral-test-hides-in-Palm-Springs-with-billionaire-donors.html

…relaying, reiterating, reposting, retweeting messages of resistance has an impact

¹² http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0143611

…networks of mutual economic & interpersonal support

¹³ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity_economy


Follow on twitter: @dnlmc
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/dnlmc

 by the author.

Daniel McNichol

Written by

Data Scientist | Analytics & Insights @ the Philadelphia Inquirer (inquirer.com)

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