For a thinking person, it’s an upsetting time. I’ve found myself prone to despair and belly-aching. I spent a lot of time thinking about this through the holidays, and a plan began to crystallize. The final kick in the pants came Saturday when I picked up on all the positive energy in the protest marches.
It’s that positivity that I believe will make a difference. Whining on social media won’t change anything. Engaging in online arguments has reduced me to the kind of name calling that he-who-shall-not-be-named indulges in. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the big picture. But by focusing on incremental, positive steps, I hope I can make a very small difference in helping us heal and move forward with love and compassion, overcoming the hate and divisiveness out there. Here’s my personal plan:
- Volunteer more – I’ve not been good about volunteering. There are many organizations that need help and since I believe change must come locally, I’m going to focus locally.
- Stop political posting on social media – It’s an echo chamber that inflames passions, raises blood pressure and rarely leads to any kind of reasonable debate or changing of anyone’s mind. (Of course, I love a good joke so I doubt I’ll stop posting Drumpf memes: there’s a gold mine coming.)
- Offer solutions, rather than simply complaining – Since the number of issues is overwhelming, I’m planning to target one issue I believe most important to restoring functioning government, balancing public vs. private sector, and reducing the partisan divide: constitutional and electoral reform.
- Be a good neighbor – Talk to my neighbors. Offer to help out. Pick up trash. Host a dinner.
- Support good media – There is plenty of bad media out there, but there are many excellent news sources struggling to survive and under an unprecedented assault by a megalomaniac and his cronies. I am going to increase my support for NPR and reactivate my New York Times digital subscription. (On the latter note, I’m very happy to see the Times take the gloves off and start calling a lie a lie.) And as always, I’ll keep paying attention to non-American media (the BBC, the Economist, Deutsche Welle).
- Keep working on my health and fitness – Staying healthy means being able to take a more active part in my community – and use less resources (assuming, of course, I don’t keep hurting myself while trying to get back in shape).
- Give back any tax “cut” – Republicans love to cut taxes and I’m sure this new government will be no different. I don’t need or want a tax cut and it’s always the most vulnerable who are affected by the inevitable cut in services that results. I will therefore contribute anything I receive as a tax cut to organizations that help those impacted by government cutbacks.
- Travel more – I certainly travel more than the average person, but I want to see even more. There’s so much I learn from other countries, and it also makes me appreciate my own country that much more, even while seeing how we could be better.
- Reduce my impact on the planet - Travel kind of throws this one off (airplanes are terrible producers of greenhouse gases) so I need to reduce my impact in other ways as much as possible: bike and walk more, avoid packaged food, etc.