I’ve seen a few posts going around along these lines, and I want to pull them together here.
The first is How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind, Self-Care Lessons for the Resistance by Mirah Curzer.
This is not going to be an easy four years. We’re going to be subjected to constant gaslighting by the President and his administration. We’ll be dealing with a ferocious, multi-front attack on the entire progressive agenda, without exception, and a lot of it is going to succeed. We’re going to helplessly watch institutions we care about and depend upon destroyed. The Trump years are going to be emotionally exhausting and deeply traumatic for all of us, but particularly to those dedicated to protecting the vulnerable and preserving democracy.
Most of us are not ready to take on the mantle of the resistance. There are things we can do now to get ready, but if we don’t, the ranks of would-be activists and resisters are going to thin out very quickly.
She goes on to make four main points, summarized here (but as always, read her whole post):
- Don’t Get Used to Trump — Get Away From Him – So when it gets to be too much, it’s ok to unplug for a bit. Stop refreshing Twitter and reading the news. Stop feeling guilty when someone asks you if you’ve been following the latest story and you have to say no. Go a week or a day or even an hour without talking/reading/writing about the dumpster fire smoldering along in Washington. It will still be there when you get back, I promise.
Focus Your Energy on One or Two Issues – You can’t show up to every march and donate to every cause. You can’t write treatises on every issue and argue with every Trump supporter on your Facebook page. If you want to be effective on anything, pick an issue or two that matter most to you and fight for them. Let the others go.
Make Activism Fun – Don’t let anyone tell you that humor has no place in the movement, or that you aren’t allowed to be proud of your contribution, or that it’s unseemly to have fun while you’re doing serious work. That’s all bull, and it’s counterproductive to boot.
Take Care of the Basics – It’s obvious and mundane, but this stuff is even more important when you’re living under the strain of an oppressive government. You need a strong foundation from which to fight, so take care of the basics [sleep, mental health, physical health, nutrition, friendship, me-time].
Next up: Andrew Sullivan’s post for New York Magazine: The Madness of King Donald. One of the main points of this article is the brazen lying that has already become commonplace from this Republican administration, and the toll that takes on us, individually and nationally.
One of the great achievements of free society in a stable democracy is that many people, for much of the time, need not think about politics at all. The president of a free country may dominate the news cycle many days — but he is not omnipresent — and because we live under the rule of law, we can afford to turn the news off at times. A free society means being free of those who rule over you — to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene. In that sense, it seems to me, we already live in a country with markedly less freedom than we did a month ago.
This struck me as another good reason to follow some of Curzer’s unplug-for-self-care advice. We can’t put our heads in the sand and pretend there aren’t political problems to know about, worry about, and fight. But when we can, taking a break to “do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene” will recharge us, and remind us what we’re fighting for.
A key theme to remember is pacing ourselves, settling in for the long fight. Mark Popham wrote this pep talk Twitter thread after the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education (again, this is just an excerpt):
Hey! If you’re a Democrat in a red state and you’ve spent the last month screaming at your Senator about DeVos – thank you
With all of your calls and faxes and letters you might have thought your Senator was going to listen to obvious, obvious reason
And right now it feels like it didn’t do anything – that they were able to just tune you out, without fear of consequence
But let me absolutely ASSURE you – they heard you. They know you’re there.
And they’re absolutely scared shitless. They’re fucking terrified.
This is not some piddly letters-to-the-editor bullshit right here. You all have been absolutely inundating them!
They’ve been shutting down voicemail! They’ve been RUNNING FROM TOWN HALLS
They have never – NONE OF THEM – seen this level of engagement from the public. Ever.
And the only thing that is keeping them from pissing their khakis right now is the assumption that you will get discouraged and go away
They think that if they can just get through until the spring everyone will become dejected and give up and tune out.
If this is just the crazy spring of 2017, they can go back to gutting our nation like a fish. But if it’s the new normal…
If this is just American Political Life, 2017-???, then they’ve got a huge problem
All right, here’s the last thing to share here, and then I’m off to sit and watch Liverpool lose to Tottenham Hotspur for two guilt-free hours. I won’t give a source link to this, as it was a shared post on Facebook, and besides, I’m quoting the whole thing (cheers, Eric!):
Sometimes band or choir music requires a very long note. We are taught to mindfully stagger when we take a breath so the sound appears uninterrupted. Everyone gets to breathe, and the music stays strong and vibrant.
The administration’s onslaught of bad executive orders may be a strategy to cause “protest fatigue” – we will literally lose our will for sustained fight.
Take a breath. The rest of the chorus will sing. The rest of the band will play. Then rejoin so others can breathe. Together, we can sustain a long, beautiful song for a very, very long time.
You don’t have to do it all. BUT YOU MUST ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE SONG.