Like most of the country I’ve watched the news over the weekend with a strange horror. It’s so hard seeing years of work being undone and a new world order unfold, one that seems at odds with all received principles of morality and humanity. But now the immediate despair, anger and incredulity has dissipated it’s time to get practical. To actually do something to counter the hatred that has taken hold and get involved in making a difference. No matter who you are, where you are, there is something you can do. Here are my suggestions.
1. Get involved. You don’t like what Trump is saying and doing? Don’t just talk about how mad/crazy/awful it is. This may sound obvious but the resistance isn’t going to happen via Facebook (though it is a powerful platform). Write to your MP. Join a march. Go to Downing Street tonight. Sign a petition. Spend some time thinking about what you want your voice to be and how you’d like to be judged by the history students of the future.
2. Live with intention. Make sure you’re not guilty of the discrimination Trump and his supporters are being accused of. Time and time again in my daily life I see people ignored/diminished/ridiculed for their views or life choices. It’s not always as obvious has someone being marginalised because of their race/sexual orientation but may be to do with class or not falling into line with a majority view on how things are done in your neighbourhood. It’s not OK and we need to recognise it in ourselves and stand up to it when we see it in others. If people want to label you ranty/bolshy/opinionated for speaking out so be it. If you don’t know what to say, this is a good starting point (it’s on race but can be applied to many other forms of bigotry).
3. Try and find people who don’t share your views. They are all out there and its important to occasionally remove yourself from the echo chamber of your social media/immediate circle. I’ve been surprised at the erudition and articulation of some Trump supporters. But why? Because liberal/social narrative has branded them all evil/stupid racists? Because I’m guilty of the same judgment and fear that they are? Ditto Brexit.
4. Fund a real news outlet. The Guardian, The New York Times, numerous blogs. Take your pick. These are the publications holding the Trump administration to account. If you’re reading them and not paying anything you need to consider what worth you put on real reporting as opposed to fake news.
5. Be open minded and get informed. There are two sides to every story. Remember that wall? It’s already part built so someone started it without inciting global protest. That policy not to let immigrants in? Australia has been at it for years without much of an international outcry. Wondering where that list of countries on the travel ban came from. Oh yes, it was Obama’s Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. Perspective is important if we want true justice.
6. Become a conscious consumer. Your spending decisions have an impact. Regardless of your political persuasion, living with intention in all areas is an excellent way to make a difference. Where you spend your money does count. The CEO of Uber is on Trump’s Business Advisory Group. The chief executive of Boden is one of the Conservative party’s most generous funders as is the Founder of Gail’s bakery. I comment on these not to question their ethics but to illustrate the importance of knowing exactly what your money is being spent on.
7. Appreciate your own contribution, whatever it may be. Parenting is political. Food is political. There is so much we can do to make an impact and improve the world, from how we teach our kids to stand up to bullies, to the lifestyle choices that result in the suffering of people we claim to support. Start thinking and remember the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Small actions can have a big ripple effect.
8. Avoid giving public figures you don’t like the publicity they crave. I’ve been watching Donald Trump’s Twitter following steadily creeping up over the last few weeks. While the followers may not all be supporters, the numbers do help validate his views, at least to himself.
9. Respect the views and ideas of others especially when it comes to addressing the problems. I struggle with this a lot, in relation to changing ideologies about causes of social injustice, but also in the face of solutions that may seem hypocritical, facile or ineffective. Trying to do something is better than nothing. We don’t always get to the right solution straight away but the process is important. And we should applaud anyone brave enough to put their head above the parapet.
10. Don’t give up. You can change the world. Your choices are your power. Use them well.