This election cycle was god awful, and somehow the results are worse. Maybe because they were a surprise? Or maybe because the man who won is the most hateful, fearful, horrible, erratic person to ooze his way across the political field, at least in my lifetime.
He wants to screw with my healthcare. He wants to suppress my rights as a gender non-conformant person. He wants to control the female-sexed parts of my body.
And beyond me–because I am capable of considering such things–he wants to ruin the lives of people of color. He wants to deport Muslims. He wants to deport immigrants and stem the arrival of refugees. He wants to destroy trade agreements and international diplomacy. He wants to build walls, deny climate change, and demonize legitimate journalism. He wants to appoint more of his ilk.
All in the name of making America great again…
I am struggling to process the results of this election not only because of the things he wants, though.
I am admittedly struggling to reign in my own hatred.
My older brother, who is ultimately calmer than I am, shook his head when I said all Trump-voters are horrifying racists. He asked me to consider that perhaps they were exhausted by rust-belt depressions, tired of watching their jobs disappear, and ready to support someone who (supposedly) cares about their hardships. That maybe not all of these individuals are xenophobes, and homophobes, and misogynists, and by labeling them as much, I’m being unfair.
I see his point. I don’t want to become the thing I’ve railed against–the sort of person who lumps and stereotypes and acts out of anger.
I’m not there yet.
I’m not anywhere near it.
But if I’m going to get there–if I’m going to fight for empathy–I can’t keep stewing in all the bad things. I have to see the post-election violence, hear the post-election arguments, and then figure out how to do something protective and positive in the midst of it.
So, here is my current plan of action:
1) Be kind
Above all else, I must be kind. I cannot let go of that. Kindness must inform my approach to everything else on this list, even when I feel that the opposite side did not grant me the same. Especially then.
I must continue to try and understand all the different sides of every issue. This means working harder to put myself in the shoes of white voters who were terrified enough to cast a vote for a villain. It means trying to wring out some kind of policy position from the Republican platform, and find not only things I can fight against, but also things I can agree upon.
I figure I spend about five hours a week listening to podcasts–at least half of that time can go to this activity.
I just took a raise at work. Huzzah! Granted, a sizable portion of that raise is going into a medical deductible savings account. But there will be enough left over for me to add a donations line to my budget. I’m still working out the specifics, but I think I’ll be able to swing about $100 a month. And while I have every intention of continuing donations to organizations I’ve helped fund in the past, I want to find some new local organizations to help out. And I want to send my money across state lines when I think it will benefit someone fighting the good fight from a lonely place.
Hopefully, in the process of researching donations, I’ll find a local organization where I can also feel helpful donating my time. Maybe as a tutor, administrator, or grant-writer.
5) Sign petitions
I hate giving out personal information, but sometimes it’s worth it. I will be adding my name to more petitions this next year.
6) Write letters/make calls
Washington is pretty secure as a blue state, but that doesn’t mean my representatives don’t need a bit of uplift from time to time. I want to thank them for their service.
I also need to pay more attention to policy growth and midterm elections across the U.S. and send my money, support, and critique where I think it might have impact. And I want to ask good questions of people in positions of leadership. I know my own work benefits when I have to stand up and answer questions, so maybe I can help someone else hone their positions.
7) Write history
As it turns out, a dissertation on the history of masculinity and mental health is somewhat topical…I need to keep writing, continue learning about related current issues, and start thinking seriously about how to have conversations that link my project with politics.
8) Write fiction
My worlds are inclusive. My protagonists include people of color and LGBT figures. My women are goddamn heroes of independence and intellect. Readers are going to need to see such things in the coming years, and I very much want to publish and be a part of making people feel safe in their literary spaces.
This is a long term goal. I want to apply for adjunct work in 2017 and teach a class or two by Spring 2018. I am hoping to find places to teach my Science and Technology Studies class, as I think its lessons about objectivity, question formation, and responsible democracy are particularly important right now.
This one is essentially a matter of self-care. I miss singing, I miss building community through music, and I miss being able to shut the world out for an hour or two. So…auditioning, 2017…*cringes*
To keep myself accountable to this action plan, I’ve created a document that I can print out and put in my planner. Each week has a slot for me for to record the things I enacted: a moment of kindness, a donation, volunteer hours, a petition signing, a moment of outreach, and issue research.
You can download that document below, if you want help getting started on your own action plan.
I’ll also use this document to assess where I tend to give money and time–it might be that I can set up a recurring donation or find a volunteer home; it might be that I need to challenge myself to spread further afield; it might be that I’m too scattered.
I’ll use this document to make sure I’m reaching outside of my media bubble and reading about conservative hopes and goals and fears–I want to find the good folks, I really do.
And finally, I’ll use this document to assess my own mental health and safety. If I feel like I’m exhausted or in danger, I’m giving myself permission to cross out a week and rejuvenate myself. If I burn out, I won’t be able to help anyone, let alone myself.
I’ll also post at the end of each month about what I found, where I went, who needs help, and who helped me.