We Are Not Done
I haven't been blogging much in the last few weeks. I felt very overwhelmed by what was happening in our country and I didn't feel especially qualified to add my voice to the chorus. But as things have appeared to calm a bit I felt the need to make one point, even though I know I'm not the only one or the most qualified one to say it. I can at least help emphasize it.
We're not done.
Far from it. I would argue that it is even more crucial to resist the urge to rest on one's laurels now. It's not to say that you cannot feel relief that there isn't a compulsive liar and hatemonger in the White House. Or that you can't be proud of any actions you've already taken. Or even that you can't take some time to enjoy not being constantly terrified. However, it is important that we always come back to the fact that in order for this country to truly thrive, it takes all of us contributing together.
It is especially tempting to those of us who experience any type of privilege, without constant reminders of how much there is still left to do, to say "we voted, there is someone better leading the way, our work here is done." But it is never done. And if we leave it only to the people who are suffering the most, we are simply accelerating toward an inevitable repeat of the nightmare we are deluding ourselves into thinking we vanquished.
So what do we do? What can we do to help? There is no right answer and I certainly don't have all of them or even most. But here are some things I'm going to try to do. Perhaps you'll join me.
Continued Self-Education & Self-Evaluation
This isn't a woke-olympics. This is about self-reflection to identify gaps in one's understanding and awareness and taking time to fill them in. There are countless books, articles, documentaries, podcasts, etc. on literally every topic under the sun. And there are many people who have done the work of curating them so you can easily find what you're looking for or get great recommendations if you don't know what you're seeking exactly.
I encourage you not sticking to only one topic or only one point of view. Everything is connected and seeing things from more angles only deepens one's understanding.
The more divided we are, the weaker we are. If we pare down our echo chamber to the point where we only interact with people who have the identical viewpoint to our own, then we are accomplishing absolutely nothing. I challenge you, rather than disconnecting from people to ask the question of "why do we disagree?"
I'm not suggesting you try to empathize with people who are full of hatred and violence. I mean attempting to understand those who you mostly agree with, but not always, and trying to work out the "why" of those misalignments. It might not always be because they are wrong, but rather the opposite.
I do also mean attempting to find common ground with those you more fully disagree with, but who are perhaps not totally lost. Can you come from a place of empathy? Of non-judgment? Telling people they are stupid or evil accomplishes nothing. But coming from a place of some understanding might allow you to reach a person enough to change their mind or at least open it a bit. Again, for those of us who have more in common with the oppressor than the oppressed, we have the primary responsibility here.
Stay Engaged, Stay Active
Just voting in a presidential election every four years is not enough. It never was, but it certainly isn't now. At minimum, make yourself aware of local politics and local social movements. Do you know who your local representatives are? What they decide on? How those decisions are made? If not, do some homework. Odds are, your day to day life is greatly affected by local government.
For example, state legislatures control voting systems and maps. So if there is jerrymandering or voter ID laws or any other problematic activity in your state, it is your state legislature that is doing it. Find out when the next election is. In the mean time, put pressure on them to do the right thing. Support a challenger in the next election. BE the challenger if there isn't one!
Maybe you aren't as political, but you really liked the organizing work that went into a lot of the movements this past year. There is so much organizing being done all the time. Keep helping!
Perhaps you prefer volunteering in a more traditional way. Well, we all know there is an endless need for that.
If you don't have time, but you have cash, you know donations are welcome in all these instances.
This is an incredibly broad and incomplete list of ways you can and should continue to put in the work to improve our nation and in turn the world. Perhaps you will find a way that I did not include. That's great. The point is simply to do something rather than nothing.
Democracy literally means People's Rule. If we want the benefits of being part of the ruling, then we need to take on its responsibilities as well.