by Judy Ferro
Exercise daily. Eat more green veggies. Floss.
Somehow my New Year’s Resolutions are not only boring, but the same year after year.
Get organized. Learn something new. Get together more often with friends and family.
I went on-line hoping to find some inspiring suggestions for liberals and progressives, and all I found were rather insulting ones written by conservatives.
“Talk to a Trump voter.”
“Go on a ride along with a cop.”
“Stop being a bigot.”
“Develop an iota of humility and gratitude.”
Not the most helpful. So I had to do some thinking myself about how I’d go about being the best activist I can in 2017. This is what I came up with.
One, don’t give up.
I know enough history to appreciate that democracies are hard to start and harder to sustain. The French Revolution started with cries for liberty, equality, and fraternity and resulted in Emperor Napoleon and decades of war. Other nations have relived the same cycle.
Yet, the American democracy survives in spite of a Civil War, unbridled monopolies in the 1890s and early 1900s, Ku Klux Klan popularity in the 1920s, and economic collapse in the 1930s.
So the November elections are handing corporations more control over our government and our lives than ever before; that isn’t the end of the story.
We fight for human rights, not victory. Complete victory isn’t possible. A wise person has said, “no activist has ever died with their job done.”
Two, pick your battles.
One person cannot make significant contributions to protecting the environment, ensuring livable wages, improving educational opportunities, guaranteeing equal rights, and upholding free elections. Choose one or two.
And focus on the doable. Petitions will not eliminate the electoral college or empower third parties until we elect people who listen to the voters.
Three, don’t insult people.
It’s not our role as Democrats to insult the President-elect’s hands or hair or to oppose everything he says or does. It is our role to point out that he’s appointing a secretary of education who’s consistently worked against public schools and an EPA administrator who opposes government regulations.
It is hateful to attack all rich people or all cops—or all Republicans, all Moslems, all teachers. It’s useful to point out when the Republican leadership supports tax cuts that benefit the rich at the expense of the poor or that a rogue cop used undue force.
If it’s not possible to decide whether you are pointing out a deficiency or gloating over it, keep quiet.
Four, have more person-to-person contact.
I’m sick of on-line petitions. Most either insist people do what they are sure to do anyway or present a one-sided view or ask for the impossible. Hitting a hundred “sign” buttons won’t mean anything if we can’t elect people who share our views.
Write, e-mail, and phone, but focus on getting to know people. Form action teams. Get to know who you can count on when an opportunity to make a difference comes up.
Five, seek out jobs where your special skills make the most difference, but be a full member of the team.
Volunteer where you have strength, but do enough of the tasks you hate—raising funds and calling strangers—to show you’re aware of their importance and appreciate those who join in the work.
And don’t forget those leafy vegetables or getting organized. Call those friends.
Create—and enjoy—a full life in 2017.