“I don’t belong to any organized political party — yeah, I’m a Democrat!”
My dad has been telling the same side-splitting joke for the past three months. And I’m tired of it. Across the United States of America, we have to start working as a team.
When you do the work to get organized and to be present in your community, you’re going to see a lot of shit. You will witness firsthand the effects of civic disenfranchisement, of poverty, of discrimination, and hate. You should expect this to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is good. It’s like medicine — it’s how you know it’s working.
As an added benefit, getting comfortable being uncomfortable at a local level is a great way to distract yourself from the pile of flaming garbage overtaking Washington DC. When you get used to standing face to face with protesters outside an abortion clinic, or you get used to reading books to young minority kids who have been disenfranchised by an education system that does not serve them, or you volunteer at your local community center or church to teach English to recent immigrants, you will feel the deep satisfaction of being of service to others. You will also be a witness to the ways in which the current system does not serve those who are most in need, and how the changes being enacted by our current government will further destroy the foundation of a progressive America that has slowly eroding without our even realizing it.
When this happens, you must do as the authorities demand: when you see something, say something.
This does not mean sharing links to news on Facebook. This means being your own best journalist, and objectively documenting what you see. Report on actions and words. Use Facebook, or Instagram, or Medium, or start a blog (or Medium publication!) with a group of friends dedicated to this purpose. Follow your high school English teacher’s advice and don’t just tell, but show the world the injustice you see. (If you are an ambitious, progressive techy, build a platform we can use to aggregate these stories!) We need evidence to change the narrative of truth. Your frontlines account of the state of America will make a difference.
Amy Siskind @TheNewAgenda is doing a great job doing this week to week at a high level in American politics, but we need this kind of running list at every level in America. What is happening in healthcare? In immigration? In reproductive rights?
Timothy Snyder @Yale also has some great advice on how to resist authoritarianism. Investigate, stand out, use your own words, he advises. By using your own words to speak truth to power, to bear witness to the truth taking place around you, you affirm your own resolve. And you become a key part of the whole.
When these narrated individual experiences from every corner of the land suddenly swell together into an orchestral canon, that’s when the magic starts to happen, when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
The Democrats’ last candidate ran on a slogan that many believe to be trite and inaccessible — what does “Stronger Together” really mean, anyway? And I’ll admit, the focus on demographic differences in this unity narrative didn’t help make the case, either. But now more than ever before, solidarity counts.
You have determined your target and volunteered your time. You are tied into your community and ready to witness and resist the policies and actions that will hurt our friends and allies under siege. You can see with your own eyes what is and is not happening — #2.
Now, it is time to raise your voice, not to lay partisan blame, but to bear witness to the truth you see. Only when we each commit to becoming a bastion of unequivocal truth can we actually rediscover, in this “post-truth” world what truth really is. And we can only do this if we are truly stronger together.
If you’re not on my team yet, sign up here to receive my next four days of action updates, and my ongoing weekly email. Check out The Indivisible Guide to groups near you. It’s take action Tuesday! Don’t wait. The time is now.