Choose Your Battles
Hello strangers! It’s been a while. I have to admit, I am feeling exhausted lately and have found it hard to make any sense of my inner dialogue, which is sounding somewhat more like a nonsensical string of HTML, than sentient English.
I have not been able to shake a lingering sense of foreboding. It’s like a steady disquiet, humming at all times. Of course, I know what it is. And it makes it hard to focus on other areas of life in a way that I would want to write about. And anyway, who can preach about money as I buy Christmas gifts for the small army that is my family? (All cash, at least!) Or give advice on simplifying when Santa’s workshop has exploded in my tiny living room (whatever, I love it.).
Most of all, who can wax poetic on the virtues of disconnecting and finding zen when I am checking the NY Times online six times a day like the fate of the world depends on my knowing every last devastating detail?
Our current climate of extreme political upheaval is omnipresent. We may think we’re getting used to it. Perhaps we are. But even if we are worn down and surrendering to a new not-at-all-normal normal, for anyone paying attention, the mental burden remains.
I find that I need to take a moment to steel my insides each morning before I face the day’s headlines.
They’re going to find me, one way or another. I admit, I don’t make it too hard for the incoming fire to pinpoint my location – I’m on Twitter. People in Puerto Rico still without water. Children about to lose health insurance right before the holidays. Teenager raped by NYPD officers. Oh, another gun massacre. Wait, what is happening inside the State Department? Does that guy sitting next to me on the subway look suspicious? Yup, the president has embarrassed us in front of all the grown-ups. Again.
Crash, bang, boom! (in my best Bjork voice)
Every day I encounter new things that anger, worry and sadden me and I think it’s impeding my ability to function properly. Because when you perceive every problem of the world all at once, as Twitter so helpfully allows you to do, you end up with the worst feeling of all: helplessness.
How many fights can we fight at once?
No one person can be a part of every solution. Every day there are at least three crazy threads going all at once. All major story lines. Like a never-ending, not funny episode of Seinfeld.
We have to accept that we cannot do something about everything. Maybe if we free up some space, we could be more effective in fighting for at least some of the things we care about. Even though it goes against my instincts, I’m starting to think the only way for me to stay sane is to tune some (pretty serious) stuff out, and focus on a few issues that have me burning the hottest.
Maybe I need to put my faith in the knowledge that somewhere, somehow, good people are working hard on issues like immigration, sexual harassment, education, the refugee crises, famine in Yemen, net neutrality, reproductive freedom, criminal justice reform, police brutality, the opioid crisis, racism, income inequalitypervasive, breathtaking corruption, and all manner of other very deep very complicated problems.
Meanwhile, I am going to see if I can focus on a few areas that I feel are very central, or that are literally life and death to a large number of Americans:
Voting rights & gerrymandering
The cradle of corruption. I fear that if anything can truly put our democracy in peril, it is this. If votes are manipulated, our voice is quieted. If people lose the right to vote because of nefarious intent, democracy dies.
I will never stop speaking out on the barbarism of believing that the richest nation on earth should leave some citizens to die without medical care. Aside from getting into arguments – er – discussions – with my dad on Facebook (oh they are epic – wish you guys could see), I fight for this cause by supporting candidates who agree that every American should have healthcare.
More than 90 percent of Americans want a more effective system of background checks. The vast majority of Americans do not believe ordinary citizens should be armed with weapons of war. I may be a progressive liberal revolutionary who hates corporations, but I am shockingly in line with mainstream thinking on this one. You’d never know it because Congress has so perverted our national dialogue. But it’s true.
The environment & climate change
The grand daddy of them all. This is the one that matters the most, for the sake of my children and their tomorrows and many other people’s children’s tomorrows. For our homes and our coastlines. For our oceans and our air. For our trees, our national parks, our food supply. For snow. For the 25 percent of species on earth that may become extinct in my lifetime. For birds.
Starting at home…
Supporting local organizations is a satisfying way to get in the ring. Inspiring activists are fighting for every issue I care about locally, and I can feel my impact a little more when I support the people in my own community who are working for a better world. This is so important for not losing hope.
ORGANIZATION I SUPPORT: Get Organized BK
Everything always comes down to this: strip away and prioritize to be more effective. It is one of those big answer-to-every-question universal truths. Throwing away unnecessary items so that I can keep my house cleaner, turning down invitations so I can have more time, shopping at a smaller grocery store so I have less choices to overwhelm me. Pairing down to focus is the answer to everything.
© 2015 Angel. All rights reserved