Next Steps

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Understandably, I've seen a lot of shock and confusion in my Facebook feed. We're numbe with shock. We weren't prepared for this. The experts were wrong. The models didn't predict... 

Fine. Take a breath. Take another.

But now what? 

We can't leave. Or, we shouldn't. This is my country and I'm not going to let a narcissistic bully -- a heartless, sexist, xenophobic coward -- chase me off. Fuck him.

I've seen a lot of people post about their grief -- about their fear for where the country is headed, about what the future holds. And I respect all that. I'm not there. I'm mad as hell. When I see the bad guys wield power unjustly, a switch flips in my brain and I can't think of anything but how we can collectively wrest it from their hands and distribute it to the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed.

Point is: I cope differently than many of my friends. And I don't care how you're coping.

Here's what I do care about. 

Before this wears off -- before your anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, despair, and grief run their course -- make a fucking plan.  It can be simple. List five things you're going to do politically -- five things that you can accomplish -- to fight to improve the lives of those in your community.

These could be local political goals -- policies you'd like to see raised at a City Council or a School Board meeting. They could be at the state or the federal level -- campaigning for someone you'd like to see in the state senate, volunteering for a voter education organization, protesting at the White House. I don't care.  

But don't let this moment pass. Don't let your heart harden, or your passion burn itself out. Commit yourself to action, and record your thoughts and feelings, so you can remember what you're fighting for in the long, frustrating days ahead.

Here are an example from my own list:

  •  Attend school board meetings at least once per month (starting on November 21, 2016) , and learn more about how I can participate in those meetings. Learn more about the structure of the school board and the school corporation. Research best practices regarding the treatment of teachers. Research what districts are doing with low family involvement and high percentages of impoverished and at-risk children. Advocate for reasonable policy and deep change where needed to address systemic issues of inequality. Develop relationships with the school board members and contact them as needed with questions and concerns. Bring at least one new friend to every other school board meeting I attend.

Here's another: 

  • Continue to work with the growing coalition of South Bend residents who want to see more accountability and transparency in the SBPD. Push for the release of the privately funded report that was conducted last year of the department. Continue to push for the formation of a citien review board (in addition to the Board of Public Safety), and continue to push for restorative justice for the victims of the SBPD, as well as better understanding amongst community members of the real, systemic injustices that oppressed communities (even here) have long faced.

Again, add details as you see fit. Remind your future self what it feels like to be you right now. Look up your representatives' information. Write them a practice letter tonight (or -- my favorite -- tag them in a public Facebook post), letting them know how you feel, what you intend to do, and that you're not going away. Discuss your action items with friends and family.

But whatever you do, commit yourself to action.  

We may be in for four long, dispiriting years, but the next opportunity for political change is likely less than a week away.  

We can't wait to be offered the chance to share our vision of how things ought to be, we've got to fight with all we've got to realize it today. 

 

 

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12