How I Plan to Get Through This Round:
12 Ways to Maintain Sanity over the Next Four Years
Like a prize fighter stinging from a late round surprise punch, the majority of the nation (including yours truly) is still reeling from the shock of the 2016 elections. While we try to stop the room from spinning so we can catch our breath and figure out how to regroup, our gloating opponent continues his relentless bullying. He delivers a fury of illegal jabs, as the crooked ref who has money riding on the outcome, looks the other way. Any one of these blows should be enough to get the fight stopped and the opponent declared unfit to take the title. But each one provides a distraction from the previous kick in the teeth and when they rain from the sky in torrential fashion it’s difficult to process, let alone concentrate on strategy.
So amidst the haze and chaos I try to shut out the noise and ignore the small but increasingly brazen portion of the crowd calling for blood while straight arming their hero and shouting Hail Trump! Despite feeling battered, I dig down deep to hold onto the things we will need to survive this fight. One by one, I pick them up, shake the dirt off and carefully line them up in a row so they stand out and help me remember what kind of a world we want to live in and how we can nudge the course of history back in a progressive direction. As my wits gradually return I’m sure the list will grow, but here’s what I have so far:
1. Stay Engaged – This battle will continue to rage for a long time and we will endure many setbacks. Resist the temptation to find a place to hide until it’s all over. As hard as it is to tune in, we need to stay informed. Read the NYT, watch MSNBC, etc. with a critical eye but supplement with reliable progressive news outlets like the Guardian, the Nation, In These Times, and many others readily available on line.
2. Stay in Touch – Maintain ties with family, reach out to old friends and new, talk with neighbors and work colleagues. Knowing that we’re not alone is a huge source of strength. Don’t forget the majority of Americans did not vote for this nightmare and I suspect that even those who did will soon have second thoughts as the Donald aligns himself with his billionaire cronies, not the workers he falsely claimed to represent who struggle at poverty level wages.
3. Be Open – In “normal” times one might be timid about engaging others in discussion about controversial issues for fear of offending them or creating discomfort. Those days are over. We need to continually question what is going on around us in an open forum. Personally, I’ve returned some old favorite tee shirts to the top of the pile: “Fascism Sucks”, “Free Thinkers Are Dangerous”, “Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we can’t eat money,” and “Homeland Security: Native Americans Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.”
4. Stand up and Resist –The Donald continues to fan the flames of hatred, refusing to call out the white supremacist fringe who have ridden his coat tails. He has remained silent as Nazi swastikas are spray painted in our parks and school buildings and neo-Nazis salute him at their open rallies which are now covered by the media. Our Muslim and gay neighbors, friends and family are openly attacked by small-minded bigots emboldened by the Donald’s electoral college win and his lies that his victory was a landslide. We cannot abide. If you see something, say something!
5. Stay Healthy – Refocus attention on the things we need to do to stay healthy like eating nutritiously and exercising regularly. I know it’s a cliché but it’s a lot easier to face adversity when you’re healthy and feeling good physically helps keep us emotionally stable. I’m trying to discipline myself to swim and walk on a regular basis. So far it’s been really helpful in restoring energy and providing an outlet for anxiety.
6. Provide First Aid – Despite our best attempts to maintain good health, we will suffer mental and physical injuries. Reinforce each other and lend a hand when needed. This goes for the daily setbacks and feelings of depression and anxiety but also for providing assistance where possible to those who will be denied health insurance. I’m confident that progressive minded members of the health care community will figure out creative ways to help out until we can achieve the goal of guaranteed health care for all.
7. Take to the Streets – There have already been and will surely be many opportunities to make our voices heard. Join in and help amplify the message.
8. Organize and Work from Within – Although the Democrats are in the minority in Congress we still have a voice and an important role to play. Keep in touch with your local, state, and federal representatives and let them know how you feel on important issues. Send emails, make phone calls, sign petitions.
9. Support Progressive Organizations – There are lots of folks who are dedicated and working hard to make a difference. Their job and ours has gotten harder but all the more reason to reach out and help them. Volunteer, send money, support their agendas. For a list of progressive organizations you might consider supporting click here
10. Maintain Balance – Don’t let politics overwhelm and consume you. This is in the “easier said than done” category; already a major challenge and the guy hasn’t even been sworn in yet. It’s not a reach to imagine being swallowed up by the unending barrage of distracting distortions and lies issued by the Tweeter-In-Chief while his evil minions carry out his corrupt, racist, xenophobic, anti-LGBT, climate change-denying agenda.
11. Maintain Perspective – Realize too, that as frustrating as this is for many of us, others will feel the effects more directly and suffer far more deeply…those who may be deported, denied their civil rights, lose their health insurance and other economic safety nets, lose their rights to have an abortion, lose their rights to marry whomever they choose and on and on.
12. Find Ways to Relax – Have a glass of wine, beer, alcohol, or mind altering drug of choice. Enjoy a really good cup of espresso. Do some yoga. Read some of those books you’ve never got around to. Binge watch your favorite TV show. Get to the theater (there are lots of reasonably priced off-Broadway alternatives that are as good or better than the expensive shows…play the Hamilton lottery – hey ya never know – and it’s every bit as good as the hype and more – just ask Mike Pence). For me, it’s most of the above plus finding some time to continue this blog, work on my novel, and pick up the guitar again.
Personally, after all these years of resisting, I’ve joined Facebook so I can accomplish much of the above. I must grudgingly admit that so far it’s proven to be a great outlet for communicating; a sounding board for sharing ideas in a much bigger circle than is possible than through more local means (feel free to look me up and send a friend request). And not just a dialogue among family, friends, and acquaintances but a ready source of invaluable up to the minute, non-mainstream media information. Like any internet-based information source, one needs to be attuned to hyperbole, distortion, and “fake news” which is particularly prevalent on the other end of the political spectrum but I’m a firm believer that social media can and will play an important role in determining our future.
So in summary, I hope that we can be there for each other, resist as one, and help navigate together through this shit storm. Please continue this dialogue by adding your own favorite ways to maintain sanity in the comment box below.