Rise Above

Judy and I saw Hidden Figures today and it drove home just how important it is to stay vigilant to inequality and injustice. It made me cringe to see the rights of women and minorities trampled as recently as the 1960s — a decade of my youth. That movie was especially poignant on a day filled with impressive attendance at all the women’s marches around our country and the world.

When I see that I need to make a change in my behavior, I focus on making a change. This rarely coincides with traditional New Year’s resolutions, but this year was different. On Dec. 31 I tweeted that I wasn’t going to continue to retweet negative political posts but focus on positive action instead. My reasoning for this was simple: I need to make a difference instead of merely generating more noise on social networks. Although posting a tweet is technically an action, it’s not one that’s going to change the world. My tweets are me preaching to a choir of like-minded followers. The few that dissent are not going to be swayed by my 140-character posts.

Women’s March in Washington D.C.

Actions that can change the world are the peaceful protests by millions of people who marched the day after the inauguration. Their efforts sent a strong and loud message to our government that women’s rights matter along with other rights. What a marvelous outpouring of positive energy and solidarity. These protests also showed off the best use for Twitter: Pictures and movies of the marches that set a very high bar for how we should spend the next four years.

Unfortunately, most of us — and I’m including myself — have been rolling around in the muck. Every time we comment about Trump’s fake tan or small hands or unique hair style, we waste our time on petty name calling. You know who likes to mock people for their flaws? Trump.

We need to be better than him. When we drop to his level, we become fodder for his followers to point at us and say, “All they do is focus on superficial issues while our leader is trying to Make America Great Again.” Don’t feed the trolls.

It’s going to be a long four-year fight and we have much work to do. There are too many government programs in peril and people who need to be protected. The attacks on our democracy have already started. Our new executive office is spreading lies and threatening the press. We can’t let any of this continue without pushback.

Our fight needs to be for truth. Our fight needs to be focused on standing up for people. We can’t play schoolyard games and call people names. Rise above this bullshit and be better than Trump and his kakistocracy. Let’s do our homework and make sure that everything we post is legit. Lies spread by Trump and his people need to be put under a bright light and exposed. We need to be the light, but we can’t be that when we are being petty.

We also need the support of the free press. It’s been years since I’ve had a newspaper subscription, but I recently subscribed to The New York Times. It’s our job to keep the press honest as well. Force them to use blunt language and to call out lies with clear and direct headlines. The Trump administration is using classic disinformation techniques to bury the truth and keep people from believing that there are even any facts or proof that can be trusted. This battle won’t be won on Twitter. It needs a broader reach with more detailed reporting.

If you have a website, use it. Write more words than you can fit into a tweet. Call out injustice and hold your House and Senate representatives responsible for their actions and their voting. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if Trump somehow gets impeached or steps down, the layers of horrible leadership run deep.

As painful as this presidential transition has been, maybe this is what we needed. I know that this has forced me down from my apolitical pedestal and made me think more about state and local politics. Our country has shown that millions care enough to step out and speak up. If it takes a nightmare to wake up more of us, then let’s make the most of this new dawn.