There are so many issues swirling around the political scene that it’s close to impossible to concentrate on any one issue. It even feels dangerous to do so. Do you save all your energy for reproductive rights to the detriment of climate change and environmental justice issues? Or do you stand for improved health care to the detriment of immigration reform? Do you go to every possible rally, or none since it all seems overwhelming? How do you stay motivated and energized or parse out your limited resources?
Some argue that we need to save our energy for the long road ahead. Others feel that there is such a long road ahead that way too much damage can be done both in the short if we procrastinate. Many are already exhausted by the myriad of protests, House votes, and litany of issues that immediately came to the forefront. Many are also worried that if they rest and let their guard down, the Titans will break down the gates. It seems very possible that one political ploy is to wait out the protestors, tire them out, and push through unpopular measures when public defenses are down.
These are questions we’re all trying to answer with no one answer being right for everyone. How do you balance the present against the future, today’s issue against tomorrow’s, your need for sleep tonight against a protest today?
One suggestion is to find some philosophical blog, book, or podcast that helps you take deep breaths and gain perspective. One recommendation is the ongoing podcast and blog On Being with Krista Tippett. Recently she interviewed Franciscan Priest Fr. Richard Rohr. The piece, entitled Living in Deep Time, addresses the natural order of change from Order to Disorder to Reorder. Fr. Rohr states: “I always tell the folks there’s no nonstop flight from order to reorder. You’ve got to go through the disorder.”
If true, it can give us a bit of solace from all the current disorder. Perhaps it is what’s necessary to set the stage for re-order. Even the most pessimistic admit that if nothing else, the current administration has served to mobilize and wake up several generations of voters who had previously fallen into quiet, apathetic hazes.
In an April segment from On the Media , WNYC’s Brooke Gladstone interviews Matt Qvortrup, Professor of Applied Political Science at Coventry University in the UK. Qvortrup states: “Democracy is a system that thrives on disgruntled people.” Gladstone summarizes it as “Institutionalized Grumpiness.” If so, then the malaise currently felt in so many circles around the country may be a true boon to the democratic system. It may also be a boon to religiosity. In an era when Americans are thought to be increasingly less religious, the political landscape seems to have also launched aggressive and animated new discussions on morality and justice, the very rock bed issues of most religion.
So what’s a citizen to do in the current political climate? The answer may be in the very title of this blog with the word “Little.” Take little steps, do a little, don’t do too much to conserve energy, but spend some energy in small doses to keep yourself engaged, channel your rage, and, hopefully, over time hit a tipping point that can effect a political re-order. If you believe that every action creates a reaction (Newton’s Third Law of Physics), then no action is in vain. Your attendance at a protest rally may just keep the organizer motivated to create another one. Your post card to a Representative of Congress may be the one that gets a count of incoming mail to a tipping point that puts him or her over the edge on an impending vote.
Little action steps you can take now:
- Take a nap, aka a little sleep. Reenergize.
- Listen to a little podcast. Some are only 10 minutes long, aka short enough to absorb in a trip to the grocery store. It doesn’t have to be a political podcast and is likely better if it’s not. Recommendation: Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier. She has weekly “Little Happier” segments that average only 2-3 minutes in length.
- Take a little time for yourself. Self-care continues to be of prime importance.
- Donate a little to some cause, not enough to break the bank, but enough ($5 or $10) to get you started.
- Give yourself a little pat on the back. You didn’t move to Canada (unless you’re a relative who left long before the political upheaval), you didn’t tune out completely, and you’re still in the game. If you’re reading this post, that counts as being in the game, and we’re thankful for your continued participation.