What Can I do now?
Like so many who are dismayed by the outcome of this presidential election, I have been asking myself what I, personally, can do. I’m sharing my list here, because it’s one thing I can do.
Redirect and refocus — because we can’t afford to diffuse our energies in a time of direct threat to so much and so many that need protection.
Gather — with others who are shaken, angry, afraid, or simply sad to encourage and educate one another as we try to imagine and determine what’s next.
Write — because writing clarifies thought, checks impulsiveness, and keeps me accountable. And because describing exactly what is happening in ways others can hear is an important way of resisting disinformation.
Educate — myself more deeply about the particular policies and programs that are likely to be most affected by announced policy changes, and by large corporations as they are deregulated.
Listen — to people who are speaking their fears and their intention and resolve, articulating strategies of resistance, and speaking truths that have been postponed. And to those who articulate our concerns in informed and intelligent ways: Amy Goodman; Glen Greenwald; Bill McKibben; Wendell Berry; Bernie Sanders; Michael McBride; Cornell West; Naomi Klein; Jim Wallis; William Barber; Michael Moore; Juan Gonzales; Deepak Bhargava; Wenonah Hauter; Jeremy Scahill; Linda Sarsour . . . and the list goes on and on. It’s a large chorus of informed concern that includes capable leaders.
Support –organizations and people who are already taking strategic action to forestall further destruction of ecosystems, harm to whole people groups, and empowerment of those who serve the interests of the ultra-rich at the expense of the poor: 350.org; ACLU; Campaign for America’s Future; Democracy Now; Earthjustice; Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting; Food and Water Watch; Human Rights Watch; Interfaith Power and Light; League of Conservation Voters; NAACP; National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Public Citizen; Sierra Club; Southern Poverty Law Center; Union of Concerned Scientists . . . and the long list goes on.
Resist — policies, practices, and groups that threaten to reverse hard-won protections for vulnerable people, lands, and species, to silence protest, or to empower hate-speech and racism. Write letters. Show up at local protests. Let my “Yes” and my “No” be loud, clear, considered, and timely.
Challenge — poor arguments with clarity; bullying with strategic peacemaking; lies with carefully researched facts; bigotry with intelligent compassion.
Witness — the suffering — all I might have been avoiding that needs to be acknowledged and spoken about — what people are undergoing in mosques or at the sites of pipeline construction or in prisons or in cities where police are increasingly militarized or at the Mexican border. Be willing to see and tell stories where I can.
Show up — in person. Online activism isn’t enough now. Redo the week’s agenda to make time to go where I might be helpful. And where I can learn from others who read things I don’t. And where we can pool energies, ideas, money, and other resources toward the common good.
Protect — the people who are most vulnerable, especially now: not only the poor, homeless, and disenfranchised, but Muslims, immigrants, the LGBT community, native Americans, especially those protesting the pipeline on their sacred lands, refugees, protestors and activists who put themselves on the front lines. That means standing with them, literally, when they’re being harassed; offering a place to meet, be heard, be safe; expressing solidarity in whatever small or large ways present themselves on campus, in stores, on streets, in places of worship.
Comfort — the afflicted. At this point that includes a lot of us who are suffering shock waves in this aftermath. So finding times and words and ways to remind each other of how much we have to work with — how much intelligence, convergent thinking and energy, and political will — is an important part of what needs doing now. Encouragement keeps hearts open.
Pray — remembering that prayer is a way of directing lifegiving energy and light into the world, allowing prayer and meditation to keep me connected to those who stand to lose the most in the coming years, staying aware of the spiritual dimensions of these events as I understand them.