The past few weeks have been hard to bear. With each each move the new presidential administration makes, my heart sinks deeper. I long to join the resistance, to blazingly declare NO, to do more than wring my hands and scroll through social media feeds.
At times like these, I am confronted with my own smallness. I am just one person with just one voice. I live far enough from the cities to make attending protests logistically challenging. My workplace is an hour from where I live, so it’s hard to get involved with local resistance efforts because I’m always in the car.
Where does that leave me? What can I possibly do to make a difference? Who am I to even complain? I live a life of incredible privilege. I’m not going to be deported or separated from my family. I’m not going to face discrimination for my skin color, sexuality, or religion. Yet, even though I will likely get through the next four years unscathed, my heart hurts for those who won’t. This spurs my longing to resist.
I’ve been thinking about these things a great deal over the past weeks and have come to the conclusion that, while I may not to make grand efforts, there are many small ways in which I can take a stand.
Recently, I decided to delete Facebook from my phone. Looking at it all the time wasn’t making things better. If I shared an opinion, the only people who liked or commented were those who agreed. Really, what does this accomplish? Plus, I was wasting a lot of time doing something that wasn’t bringing any satisfaction. It didn’t matter whose opinions were being shared–it all made me feel icky inside.
Of course, pulling away from Facebook doesn’t mean I’m ignoring what’s going on in the world. On the contrary, I’m making an effort to be better informed.
One of the best things I’ve been doing is intentionally reshaping where I get my information. As the Trump administration seeks to delegitimize the media, I have become conscious of where I should be going for news. This has resulted in distancing myself from social media, avoiding the never-ending spinning of news channels like Fox and CNN, veering away from sources like MSNBC that only confirm my biases, and moving towards sources that are credible. Be credible, I mean that they are fact-checked, written by a real person, unbiased, and are current. Instead of scrolling through Facebook while I eat breakfast, I now read the newspaper.
There are days when the stories I come across are so depressing that I just want to look away. I want to close my eyes, ignore the mess, and pretend that things are okay. But, in the words of Albus Dumbledore, “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.”
Ignorance may be bliss, but bliss is self-serving and plays right into Trump’s hands. I can’t say yes to ease and ignore what I know to be right. How can I willingly turn a blind eye to injustice? How can I pretend life is easy and the world is simple when it is not? So, even though it’s unpleasant, I try to stay on top of what it going on.
Another practice I’ve adopted is observing the Sabbath. This is inspired by my Christian faith, but have found it so healthy that I think the principles are for everyone. There’s a lot of theology behind what the Sabbath is and why we practice it, but I’m not going to get into that. Simply put, the Sabbath is a day of rest. It’s about breaking from your daily routine, slowing down, and taking care of your spirit.
Living is weary work. I often find myself exhausted simply by the demands of daily life. With everything the new president and his administration have been up to over the past few weeks, my exhaustion has reached a new level emotionally.
Intentionally practicing Sabbath rest has offered a reprieve from fatigue. What Sabbath looks like for me is always different. Sometimes, it’s going to church with my family and singing hymns off-key with a congregation. Sometimes, it’s relaxing by reading a book or watching a movie. Sometimes, it’s putting the book down and going the the gym. Sometimes, it’s taking my laptop to my local coffee shop and writing. Sometimes, it’s going outside enjoying nature.
Sometimes, my rest lasts all day. Sometimes, it’s a few stolen minutes.
Sabbath takes many forms, but garners the same results. I feel fresh and clean. I feel grounded and healthy, ready to face the world.
Finally, I’ve been very intentional at showing kindness and empathy. There is a lot of pain in the world and I don’t want to contribute to it. I firmly believe that all people, no matter ethnicity, religion, political belief, orientation, gender etc., deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
So I try.
I often find it really hard not to judge people, but I remind myself that everyone has a story and I can only see one piece. I never know what someone is going through and a kind word or smile can go a long way.
In the face of the messy world, staying informed, practicing rest, and showing kindness may not feel like much. There are so many problems out there and my conclusions feel so weak. But it’s a start. My circle of influence may not help the plight of immigrants or refugees, but even the smallest of lights can be seen in the darkness. Resistance, for me, begins in daily attitudes, interactions, and living intentionally. Who knows? It could open doors and equip me to do more in the future.
I’d like to end this post with a quote from Catherynne M. Valente. It comes from her fabulous short story, “The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still”:
“We must say Yes to each other. We must say Yes to the needful, to the suffering, to the lonely, to those the Marquess punishes for saying No to her. We must band together, back to back, and say Yes to everyone who lost today, for we are all family now, and our loss is our new last name… But most of all, we must say Yes to the truth and the speaking of it. We must say No to silence.”
Thanks for reading!