It’s been many months since I’ve written here. I had big plans two years ago for a series. I had big plans to spend a lot of energy keeping abreast of occurrences like those going on in Ukraine, so that my readers could turn to me for that kind of information. I’ve had a lot of big plans.
The 2016 election threw a wrench in the works. Almost immediately, I had things to do to preserve the basic stability of my own life, family, and country. Within days, I was at USC Medical Center protesting a proposed ACA repeal. Then it was the Women’s March. Then, crucially, the Muslim ban. Less than a week ago, I was again marching, this time against family separation.
They came for the Muslim refugees first. They claimed that the refugees had not been properly vetted, which was a lie. They claimed that we were allowing terrorists from Syria into the US, which was a lie. Our government lies to us.
Our government is using dehumanizing language. They are using ridicule to silence potential dissenters. They are using racism. They are going after the most vulnerable first, and always, always, refugee children are vulnerable. Precedent tells us where this is going. The government is already moving to strip people of their citizenship. There is a pattern to genocide, and we are now right in the middle of an escalation.
It’s so easy to believe that knowing the latest news is protective, or is even a kind of action. Staying up-to-date feels like staying informed (these are not identical). The pace of news is frantic. However, if people of good will are overwhelmed, they will be paralyzed. We cannot afford to be paralyzed.
Here’s what I suggest: make a list of things that reduce stress in your life. They can be simple. For me, taking baths works. Walking around the neighborhood and looking at people’s front gardens is also great. Do at least two of these things per day.
If you can afford to make donations, practice trust. The organizations you are donating to are full of professionals. This is not their first ballgame. They do this full-time, and you really can’t, because you need to eat.
Along with trust, practice kindness in your everyday interactions. I live close to the border, so my family and friends are directly impacted by the targeting of immigrants and those who look or sound like immigrants. Yet even if you are far from an international border, you really do not know who among the people you meet in your daily life is suffering from fear and stress because of what is happening. Reducing their stress reduces yours. Treating everyone well sets an exampleTreating everyone well sets an example. It doesn’t sound like much, and I am scoffed at when I suggest it, but this works for everyone.
Humans are social animals. Genocides just do not work without widespread approval and apathy. That means that the way we treat people every day, the language we tolerate around us, and the choice to cut certain people out of our lives have a real effect.
Be of good courage. Take regular breaks from daily news. Don’t focus on bootless argument, but always prefer action (and yes, writing is action). Surround yourself with good and loving people and use the strength they give you to do your share, whatever that is. And remember that the Devil hates to be laughed at. Keep laughing.