Recently, I made a social media post that was intended to inspire a bit of hope for a better 2017 than the year we just lurched through.
That post spurred a debate about the chances of a happy 2017 under a Trump presidency. It was an unsettling exchange to witness, heavy with resignation and notably missing the good cheer of the season.
It ended with a question nobody answered: Well, what can we do?
That conversation magnified my awareness of a change in our language and tone over the last month. We’ve stopped using words like “unbelievable.” The context for such words is in upheaval. There’s an uncertainty in our expression now. What words are adequate for the bizarre onslaught that has become our daily news cycle? We seem to be suspended in a seemingly endless state of wondering what’s true and what’s next.
The rules around humanity, decency, honour, justice, and truth are being mauled right in front of us. We see it happening around us, but we can’t fix it all, and it feels impossible to know what to prioritize, or where to start.
As I found myself falling into the dilemma of our mass impotency, I realized how paralyzing that kind of thinking is. Is this how complacency is sown? Are we losing our voices and sinking into a collective shrug with an angry, tired sigh?
The mere thought of it was enough to haul me back to the question: what can we do? In the answer, we can find hope.
There are some ways we can take action. Right now. And as long as there’s something we can do, we can hope.
Here are some ideas to get us started:
- Search for organizations—both established and grass roots—that are working to protect the difficult work that’s already been done to advance human and civil rights. We can support them financially, or with our time and energy. It’s a good idea to research all organizations you’re considering supporting to confirm your money is going where you want it to. A quick search on their fiscal reports can tell you what percentage of their money goes to the cause versus “administrative costs.” You might be surprised at what you discover. I was.
- Research all news. Never before have we been more called upon to use our wisdom and discernment about what we believe. There were swaths of unreported, misreported, and outright fabricated information littered all over the past year. Now is the time to re-claim what we give our attention to, and question what doesn’t seem right. We can insist on more details, and the other side of the story. We can demand to be trusted with the facts – all of them, not a biased portion. We can support excellent journalism by sharing it, and respectfully provide accurate information to refute fake news.
- Look beyond our bubble. This takes some courage, but the job isn’t going to get done without heaps of that. We can learn what the sincere concerns of all people are—not just those within our own sphere. I’ve learned more than I expected to when I looked beyond headlines about what isn’t being discussed in the media. I then learned that if it’s not being reported factually and fully, it’s not getting discussed appropriately across opposing viewpoints either.
- Protect the vulnerable. We can refuse to tolerate hateful behaviour in our presence. We can show others how to stand up to intolerance. Even if we’re quivering in our shoes, and the only one in the crowd voicing our refusal to allow it, we can do it. We don’t have to stand silently by, shaking our heads in horrified astonishment—we can use our horror to fuel our courage.
- Communicate our concerns to our elected officials. Learn all we can about who can help most. Email, phone, tweet, write, blog. This action is a long distance event; we know going in that it won’t be a sprint. Events are unfolding quickly, and media attention is bouncing around like a kid on a candy high. Our commitment includes keeping up with issues as they evolve and keeping them in the spotlight—especially when the media isn’t.
- Follow the money. Research who is funding whom, which major corporations our purchasing dollars are going to, and who is sponsoring the media we consume. We can learn how our purchasing power might be inadvertently helping those who don’t align with our values. Speaking with our wallets works.
- Support each other. If everyone who is concerned right now gathers up and unites our voices, our efforts magnify exponentially. Help others—help everyone—to feel safe joining their voices with ours. Our voices are many; united…unstoppable. This is what powers every other action on this list.
We don’t have to succumb to resignation. We each have a voice, and options for how we use it. We can unlock the paralysis of uncertainty by finding just one way to exercise our own power or strengthen someone else.
That’s where my hope lies—in remembering how powerful I am, multiplied by all of you. I hope you join me in a hopeful, sustained call to action for the upcoming challenges. We still have our voices, let’s use ’em!
Author: Karen Hubert
Image: Minnie Keane
Apprentice Editor: Adrienne Dygert; Editor: Emily Bartran
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