Issue 54

How I Plan to Get Through This Round:

12 Ways to Maintain Sanity over the Next Four Years

in-these-times-trump-speaking

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:

in-these-times-trump-cover1. 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.cell-phone 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.

free-thinkers23. 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.”

 

trump-swastika-cropped4. 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!

see-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.

trunp-protestors-outside-trump-tower-nyc7. 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.

warren8. 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.

aclu-logo29. 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

scale210. 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.

glass-of-wine12. 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.

 

facebook-logoPersonally, 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.


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Published on December 3, 2016 at 5:47 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The election result was somewhat akin to unexpectedly losing a loved one….a real shock to the system or as you allude to, a surprise punch to the gut. As we all know there are several stages to work through in dealing with grief and we each work through them at our own pace. Your suggestions are well founded and will no doubt come in handy in the days/years!!!!! YIKES ahead.

    Rick Rubin

    Editor’s response: Thanks Rick, I understand your point about getting our arms around the shock and the need to work through it at our own pace. I would stress however that the 5 stages of grief you allude to culminate in acceptance and we cannot accept and allow this to become the new normal.

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  2. Thanks, Paul, for this very important article. I have a bit of a rant I want to add.
    Re 1 – Stay Engaged – You omitted any mention of Democracy Now and Amy Goodman which is the very best source for reliable reporting of the real news with facts. Amy is on WBAI (99.5 FM) every weekday morning from 8-9 am and on CUNY TV weekdays from 6:30-7:30 pm (Verizon Channel 30, RCN Channel 77 and Time Warner Channel 75. You can access Democracy Now on line at any time of day at democracynow.org to get the news streamed in video and/or in text. Also, you have free access to its archives which will give you a wealth of info on any important issue.
    For example: Amy has been reporting live from the North Dakota Spreading Rock Indian protests against the installation of a Canadian oil pipeline on their land for more than 2 months, while there was not a word or mention of that struggle in the NY Times, on MSNBC, NPR news, PBS news, CNN etc. There was no comment either from Pres. Obama, Hillary Clinton or the rest of the Democratic Party establishment, permits for the pipeline were granted by both federal and state regulators. Bernie Sanders did speak out about it, but got no media coverage except from Amy Goodman, just as the media was treating him in the Dem. Party primary. We learned from Amy about the existence of a treat that is still in force between the U.S. Government and the Indian Nation that guaranteed Indian sovereignty over their lands. This treaty supersedes any and all state’s rights and makes North Dakota’s permission for the installation of a pipeline on Indian territory unlawful. But when the Indian tribes requested Obama’s intervention to enforce their treaty rights he was silent and permitted a private company to install the pipeline on Indian territory. (The original plan had been to install it around Bismarck, the capital of N.D., but that city refused to grant permission, citing health problems.)
    The silence continued while the native protesters were being attacked by the company guards, dogs and N.D. state troopers, and the Indian encampments were being torn down. During this time Amy Goodman, who was in the territory as a verified news reporter, was arrested for participating in alleged conspiracies to incite violence. Again the was a mention of this arrest of a report by the NYT which frequently criticizes the lack of freedom of the press in Cuba, Venezuela, Russia etc. There was considerable international criticism of Amy’s arrest and the charges were dropped and she was recharged as a public nuisance. That charged was summarilly dismissed at the trial in court which again was never reported in the NYT.
    However, when all of the Indian tribes in the U.S., and tribes from Central and South America and then veterans groups joined the protest it became an international issue with many countries voicing criticism. Only then did the NYT, MSNBC “commentators”, CNN, NPR news et al give really massive daily coverage for the past week and a half, and the Army Corps of Engineers said it was considering refusing to grant a final permit for an easement across the Missouri River. And Pres. Obama spoke out for the Indian cause, deplored the violence against them, but took no action to enforce the treaty.
    Now, finally, on December 4th the Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the pipeline and announced it was looking for an alternate route – obviously an Obama decision. This was victory won by the people who “took to the streets”. Too bad Obama waited so long, and opted for an executive decision rather than a substantive decision to enforce the treaty. because Trump will take control of the Executive in one month and he could quickly reverse the Corps of Engineers. And a legal action by North Dakota could ultimately face a new conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

    Re Organize anc Work from Within – Mention should be made of the Progressive Caucus in the Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Keith Ellison that is try to elect Keith Ellison as Chairman of the Democratic Nat’l Comm. Ellison is a practicing Muslim and there has been strong pushback from Obama and the conservative Democratic establishment, as well as from the Israel oriented Jewish groups attached to AIPAC (ADL, Jewish Comm. etc.). NYT quoted a White House spokesman as saying the election of Keith Elllison would mean that Bernie Sanders could control the Democratic Party (horrors!).

    Re Support Progressive Organizations – I would add that we should support the Committee For Constitutional Rights which has been defending progressives and progressive organizations, often as lead council in association with the ACLU. I would also add Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

    Herb Plever

    Editor’s response: Thanks Herb, All good points! My intent was to frame a general strategy and not to provide an exhaustive guide – the progressive news outlets and causes that you cited plus many others that went unmentioned are certainly worthy and will play an important role as we resist the policies of the incoming administration

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  3. Good article and positive approaches for these discouraging times.

    Editor’s response: Thanks Mary, we’ll all need to work hard at finding the proper balance to make it through…but being there to support each other will be key.

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