I recently posted about my disappointment in our recent election. Chagrin may be a more apt term… inside a week, I went from supremely confident that we were going to elect the first female president in American history, and instead we received Donald Trump.
On one hand, I want to wash my hands of responsibility and say that America is getting what it deserves.
Except that we deserve better, and it is partially our fault. Complacency and indifference helped lose this election. Not listening has disenfranchised a huge portion of the country. The underlying problems belong to all of us.
The difficulty at this point is in determining why and how to make a difference.
“Why” is an important question to ask. Are you deciding to act out of a feeling of guilt? Like I said, a great deal of responsibility rests on all of us. I know that I feel guilty about not having done more sooner, but that shouldn’t be why I want to act now. Our motivations should stem not from fear or guilt, but from responsibility and love. And protect the people we love and the planet we share.
The next question is “how.” I advocate three things: protect yourself and your loved ones welfare, empower the press, and take your actions beyond your circle. First, there is a heightened sense of threat everywhere. Some of that are bigots and bullies who feel like they have been vindicated. Be safe, steer clear, and report whatever you can. I hate to bring it up, but saving money will also be key because the establishment has promised to dismantle our safety nets.
Next, we need to have an active and empowered press. Journalism is supposed to shine a spotlight on the ugly parts of the world so we can make it better. Unfortunately, we have switched to many unofficial news sources. If you can afford it, buy some news subscriptions or donate to NPR. Rather than repost “Cracked” and “Huffington Post” articles (where articles are not necessarily fact checked, and editorial standards are lax) try “The Atlantic”, “New York Times” and “Washington Post”.
Lastly, give to people and places that will need it and can make a difference. The issues that I can see forthcoming are women’s reproductive rights, church/state separation issues (especially in schools), and protecting minorities.
Here are the charities that I recommend:
- American Civil Liberties Union – they are staunch defenders of equal rights.
- Southern Poverty Law Center– they are a fantastic resource, watchdog group, and activist group rolled into one.
- Planned Parenthood – it is important to support our essential services, and to provide education and medical care to all.
- Freedom From Religion Foundation – The FFRF is a watchdog and legal group that keeps track of shenanigans in our schools, courthouses, and government.
- The Satanic Temple – far more than “dinner theater atheists,” the Satanic Temple promotes humanist and evidence based philosophies, as well as shining a brilliant activists light wherever they are needed.
- Hispanic and Latino Charities of the USA – providing legal and other aid to latino/a people.
- Black Lives Matter – because they do matter, and currently they are facing a growing white supremacy movement.
Don’t act because you feel guilty. But don’t be silent, and don’t be complacent. Comforting yourself by saying “we survived W, we can survive this” isn’t much comfort for the millions that face violence, deportation, conversion therapy, or whatever else is coming.
Raise your voice, be heard, and keep making the changes we need.