These days are incredibly disturbing for anyone paying any sort of attention. Every day we are bombarded by new horrors of what this new regime and its followers are doing and intend to do to our country, the environment, women, LGBTQI people, people of color, Muslims, Jews, healthcare, etc. It gets to be so overwhelming to the psyche to even fathom. We are facing a horrendous future ruled by not just one fascist. We no longer have hope of a democracy but a strange fascist oligarchy, one like we have never seen. Many are questioning how we will even survive.
We did not just get here overnight. In my opinion we have never lived in a Democracy. This country was founded by white, heterosexual, wealthy men. The protections spelled out in the constitution were never intended for women or people of color. This America, Trump’s America, is refreshing to the racists, classist, homophobes because this is what those white oligarchs originally meant by making America great again. They intended to keep slaves, to drive out and annihilate the Native Americans, to keep the indentured servants, to suppress the dissenting voices. They intended to keep to prosperity accessible to those already prosperous. We are all on stolen land. They intended it to be stolen. So, we did not just wake up one day to Trump’s, “Making America Great Again”; this was always the intention.
We the people, have throughout American history, fought for basic human and civil rights. We have won some, but the thread of “the Great America” has always been there. The oppressive, for and by the wealthy white men paradigm, has been there. Within this “Great Again” American politics there are and have been deep ties to making the rich richer and the poor poorer, creating slave classes all around the world, spinning of ‘truths”, manipulation, corruption, government ties to big business, etc. The politicians all eventually become part of this corrupt system. Yes, including democrats, even the beloved Elizabeth Warren. They are all available for and to corruption (maybe Bernie Sanders is on the lower end of susceptibility to the previous statement). In other words the entire system is in need of revolutionary change.
So if the entire system is in need of revolutionary change how do we survive? How do we cope with the reality and the daunting work ahead of us? How do we keep calm and carry on while bringing the change that is desperately needed? The change agent Paulo Freire urges us that hope is intrinsic to actualization of social change. “Without a minimum of hope”, he says, “we cannot so much as start the struggle. But without the struggle, as an ontological need, dissipates, loses its bearings, and turns to hopelessness. Hence the need for a kind of education in hope. Hopelessness and despair are both the consequence and the cause of inaction or immobilize.” So how do we keep hope? Here are some ideas about how we can individually deal with what is here now, what it is that we are called to do/be and how to keep the hope:
1. Stay connected to like minded community.
Also know when alone time is restorative vs. isolative. It is easy to get depressed and have a sense of hopelessness in these times, especially with the daily bombardment of bad news. Reach out and talk to friends and family who are anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-Trump. Make sure you know your audience. If you are surrounded by Trump supporters, find likeminded people online. If you have to MOVE! Your safety, including your emotional safety is critical to this revolution! Make it a point to connect with people who can hear you.
2. Be informed but know your limits.
Understand when being informed is damaging to your mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Staying atop the news in these times can be extremely damaging to your psyche to the point of extreme hopelessness, depression and even suicidal thoughts. Learn your personal limits. Know when to unplug, put down the device and go outside, talk to a friend, dance around your living room, go swimming walking, swing on a swing, jump rope, look into a child’s eyes…do what ever you have to do to shift the energy. If you have to go and literally hug a tree…seriously, try it, they have a way of grounding the crazy, toxic energy. Know that you have the choice of what you allow into your consciousness. Go to the ocean, or river or mountain. If there are none around you hold a rock or a stone. If you are in a super urban environment look up at the sky, or look into a human beings eyes. Look into your own minds eye and bring your attention to your breathing, only your breathing, discovering miracles in just that. Bring your attention to a place or a memory of a place or an imaginary place where peace is abundant. Truly just moments of this can counteract the news/ reality/ alt-realities about Trumps evil cabinet, Syrian horrors, standing Rock, climate change, bigotry or hatred.
3. Remind yourself that you are not crazy, the culture is crazy making, these times are crazy, fascism is crazy, the perpetrator-in-chief and his band of bigots are crazy.
(See above for self care)
Trump’s agenda is to make everyone who disagrees with him feel like they are crazy. He repeats lies over and over till people actually believe what he is saying. He mocks women, disabled people, people of color…and denies it or blames them. He makes light of sexual assaulting women. He is shown in photos and videos to be abusive toward anyone and everyone including his own wife. He is a classic narcissistic crazy maker. It is him and his bigoted army of billionaires that is crazy, it isn’t you! Remember that and do everything and anything to restore your sense of sanity. (again see above).
4. Realize that the revolution is in process. Trust the revolution!
The recent Women’s March on Washington and its over 600 sister marches across the US and around the world can serve as a reminder that the revolution is definitely in process. Millions of people attended these marches filling streets with their beautiful pink pussy hats and their protesting signs, all peaceful, all in solidarity, showed up for the revolution. Change does not come from one single source. Rosa Parks did not just sit on the front of a bus one day when she was tired. There was a whole movement that led to that beautiful change making moment that included many people in many communities working toward a peak of the civil rights movement. We all make up the movement in this revolution. Every little and big moment. We are all part of this big change with each thing we do, with each choice we make.
Teenagers started walking out of schools in protest the day after the election. People are divesting their money from big banks to not support the pipelines. Introverts are attending protests. Otherwise apathetic people are waking up and realizing that “things are not right here”. More and more people are joining the movement, the revolution every day.
You are not alone. This very needed revolution is happening and everything counts as a contribution with even shifting your thoughts being a way to create more inner peace.
5. Be informed but know where to go for accurate, truthful information.
Corporate media profits off the spin. Even though many news outlets are not pro-Trump and Trump is currently at war with the media and journalists, corporate media has always been designed to create a reality spin in order to manipulate. Corporate media has a deep agenda and they are often connected with big money. Be careful what you are ingesting. So where do you go for a more accurate story? How do you keep from getting caught in the world of alternative facts? A couple of really great sources are Truthout and Alternet online news outlets. Also Nation of Change can be a good source. The media can literally make you sick and crazy. Remember don’t get spun!
6. The “personal is political”, but know what is personal and what is political.
Know what is outside of your personal power to change. Know what is inside your personal power to change. Know what is being activated by this insane regime. With such a deeply triggering group of leaders and all of the followers it is critical to understand ourselves and what is being triggered in our own histories. I have a lot that comes up for me around this orange incestor-in-chief and his billionaire bigots. Will my children have a future on this planet? Will my family be safe from harm? I get extremely activated and triggered by how this person both touches, talks about and regards his favorite daughter sexually as well as how he visibly mistreats his wife. Will my rights and my families rights be taken away? Will my friends and family members be deported? Will we go to nuclear war? Will my African-American brothers be murdered by police or some other hateful group? Will my friends and family members have to face hateful speech as this is a daily occurrence for some? Will we have a planet to live on in one year? Two years? Four years?
Know your own triggers. Know your own self and do not isolate yourself around your triggers. Remember that you are not crazy! Own your history, your triggers and your vulnerabilities. Your history and your family’s history is carried in your DNA.
Understand your ancestral history and how it plays into your well being. The ancestors have also paved the way and survived all these historical trials and we are here now and can draw on their strength and perseverance. We all have resilience that we can build on. If you have to, talk to a really great therapist, a friend or family member or trusted confidant. Don’t stay stuck in your traumatic vortex. We need you. The revolution needs you.
7. Get to know who you are as an ever evolving and changing being and know your role/roles as a change maker.
Know what you are agreeing to and only agree where and when it is appropriate for you. Know your limits. Know your power. We can’t all go to standing rock. We can’t all show up to protest. Some of us can write. Some of us can pray. Some of us can sing. Know that anything you do is part of this revolution. Stopping the internal war, creating inner peace in itself is revolutionary. Just doing this is creating huge change creating of change ripples outward. Never underestimate the power of inner peace.
8. Create an action plan and follow through on it.
Join truthout.org. Pick a cause (there are many to be concerned about in this time) and write or call your legislator. Help someone. Smile at a stranger. Go to a March. Knit a pussy hat. Donate to Planned Parenthood, or ACLU or Southern Poverty Law Center, or Courage Campaign, any LGBT center, or Black Lives Matter. Sign a petition. Pray. Go Local. Eat organic food from a local farmer. Get to know your farmer. Don’t drive as much. Call a friend to talk about action plans. Meditate. Listen to someone who is suffering. Hold space for others. Educate yourself. Breathe.
9. Get into present time.
Anxiety comes from being out of present time. Bring all of your attention and energy into present time. This is the first step in bringing all of your personal power back to you. We have to remain awake and aware and having all of our personal power available is crucial. This can help with the above action plan and any future actions we are called to. Remain present.
10. Focus on what we want.
It is easy to get caught in the negativity of the now. It is easy to hate Trump or even people who voted for Trump, possibly including family members. Hate, however won’t really work toward the goal of change. Hate does not resolve hate. We are justifiably angry and I do not suggest simply loving everyone. I am suggesting that holding hatred in our hearts is a heavy burden. We have to go through the stages of grief to reach acceptance of what is and who is in the now. We do have to accept a current sequence of events that led to Trump being in the White House. He is who he is. It isn’t great. It isn’t fun or even safe, but it is so. His bigoted cabinet are who they are and they have what they have and perceive and they perceive. Accept who they are. We can also accept who they are not and what they are and are not in control of. They are not in control of our minds. They are not in control of our personal power. They are not in control of us creating for ourselves a dream of what we want. They are not in control of our visioning. We can vision the world we do want. This focus is very powerful but can not come from holding onto hate. Focus on the vision, the dream.
11. Be yourself.
Allow yourself to show up fully as who you are. Stop agreeing to shrink for other people’s comfort. Stop censoring yourself. Stop playing roles that other people subscribe for you. This may take some physical, emotional and spiritual clutter clearing. Work on manifesting people, places and thing that feed your truest, fullest being. Feed your soul. Be open to radically un-censoring yourself. Show up for all of the parts of yourself. Don’t let fear, the media, the social environment tell you who you ought to be. We have to, all of us, show up as our full, authentic selves. No one is authentically born racists, bigoted or hateful. Hate is learned. Who we really are is love. We are all vulnerable. These truth sources within us, love and vulnerability are the most powerful forces. It is those that avoid the vulnerability who must create wars. Love can create a kind of vulnerability. Let us be real. Let us be love.