I am not okay with what is happening in the United States right now. This is not normal, and it is not okay.
Do you feel the same?
Perhaps you also feel overwhelmed, and terrified, and filled with rage, and unsure of what to do next to help and to resist and to fight.
If you are feeling that way, you are not alone because I am feeling that way too.
I do not know the "best" thing to do, but I refuse to remain paralyzed by the desire to find the "best" thing and instead I am committed to doing something and to doing it regularly.
As Susan Sontag said: "The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community."
In the face of such an onslaught of terrible news where it feels like each time I look there's something else to be scared of and enraged about, I know that I need to do more than spiral into overwhelm and depression.
I need to take action, and I need to keep taking action on a regular and committed basis.
And, perhaps most importantly for me, I need to constantly remind myself that while sharing information on social media can be helpful, it is not the same as doing the harder work.
I am relatively new to this type of work, so I have been researching how to take effective action. And while I'm sure that my action steps will evolve over time (and the following list is certainly not all-encompassing), here is what I am currently doing that feels most impactful:
1. Calling my representatives regularly
- The best resource I have found for this is: https://5calls.org/
- At first, I was very nervous/anxious to make these calls. This helped me, and so did this. But honestly, like anything else it gets easier the more you do it.
- I only mention 1-2 issues per call, because I have heard from former congressional staffers that this is most effective.
- In addition to making phone calls (especially when the phone lines are constantly busy and/or sent to voicemail), I have been using Resistbot, an incredibly simple text-message based service that delivers your message via fax to your representatives in just a few minutes. It's easy to use, and it's a great supplement to the phone calls.
2. Engaging with my local Indivisible group, and following their guidance for which actions to take within my home community.
3. Attending town hall meetings whenever my representatives are in my area. This includes meetings and events with the representatives at the state level (state legislature), and at the city council level as well.
4. Subscribing to newsletters that provide small, regular action steps, and then completing those steps as they land in my inbox. My absolute favorite newsletter is written by Jennifer Hoffman:
4. Making reoccurring monthly donations to organizations and causes I support, including:
- Black Lives Matter
- Planned Parenthood
- The Sierra Club
- Looking for other organizations? This might help: A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support
5. Following independent investigative journalists, and monetarily supporting their work via PayPal when I can.
- Leah McElrath: https://twitter.com/leahmcelrath
- Sarah Kendzior: https://twitter.com/sarahkendzior
- I am also a regular listener to the Democracy Now! podcast, which is an excellent news source, with new episodes each weekday.
- Another thing that's helping is to limit the time I spend on social media. I deleted my Facebook account in July 2016, and I am consciously limiting the time I spend on Twitter, etc these days. It's helpful in 5-10 minute bursts, but it's very destructive and demoralizing for me if I go over that time limit.
6. Having conversations with friends & family, both those who agree with me and those who do not.
- Real talk: THIS IS HARD. Instead of lecturing, I am trying my best to ask questions and to listen. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I get frustrated and lash out. But with each conversation I am trying to do/be better.
7. Accepting that even though there's a huge list of issues I care about, I can only focus on one or two.
- Note: This does not mean that causes outside of those few are not important. It just means that we are only human, and that we can't spend 24/7 spreading ourselves too thin by trying to help/do everything, everywhere. It's much more impactful to choose one thing and truly commit to that thing.
Phew, okay. That's a start, and it feels both powerful and manageable for me right now.
If you want to share your own action steps with me, Twitter is a great way to do that.
Oh, and through all of this please don't forget to take good care of yourselves, and of each other. We're no use to anyone nor to the resistance if we're burnt out, sick, and exhausted.