It can be incredibly difficult to even have the energy to fight back when you feel incredibly defeated. But a large reason this feels like an overwhelming tasks is that it seems like it consumes such a large portion of time. And you are right, it does. But, we actually may have more time for political action than we think. This era of grassroots efforts is a great opportunity to evaluate the things in our lives that keep us “busy” and really question if those things are helping make our lives better or worse. Are they making the lives of others better or worse? Is it mindless? Is it self-care? Take inventory of the things that keep your calendar bursting and give them a social justice litmus test.
I am presenting you and me with a colossal challenge; in addition to all of the daily things that you are trying to juggle, add onto that the act of protesting or letter-writing, making calls to elected officials, or going to protests in the evening or on our weekends off. What we need to start doing though, is rather than thinking about social justice action as a trend or a passing phase think about social justice as part of our lifetime practice. This is a lifestyle change, not just for now, but forever.
One of the biggest reasons that conservative politicians control so much of the government in the United States is because of complacency. There have been many trends like “slack-tivism” and limited social media efforts to vaguely engage people into political topics and social justice movements. But before this election, when was the last time that you took any action regarding anything? And let’s be honest– for most, probably NEVER. So while it may seem annoying or exhausting to suddenly be constantly cajoled into doing social just work, this is a bit of a make-up for lost time. So now, you and I need to create the time.
It’s fine and well to go hiking on the weekends, or do a booze cruise with your social football league, or have a beach day with the girls. Awesome. Doing nice things for yourself is important and spending social time with others is a very important part of self-care. The problem is that we now spend most of our non-work hours planning or engaging in self-care like behaviors, more specifically, self-focused behaviors. We really need to get our heads out of our asses. All of us. Get off your fucking phone and stop taking selfies so you can look up at the world around you and how others are living or suffering. We as a society have become so self-possessed and self-obsessed that we rarely spend more than a few minutes thinking about the needs of others or doing any tangible, challenging work to support the needs of others. But, if we want to see real social change and progress, this is an essential part of it.
I am tremendously guilty of all of the above; I spend hours on social media reading the news, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts. My husband and I spend many hours watching mindless television to distract ourselves from the world around us. I wear headphones religiously while I travel about the city in my daily life. And I can do way better than this. So my act of resistance here is to not do those things, to go do things outdoors where there’s no phone service, to not have headphones on and talk to my neighbors when I pass them, to go to rallies and protests and organizing meetings and workshop to really learn how to get equipped and help people, and taking an active role in my local government. If I want to see real change I have to make it. Sitting around signing online petitions on Facebook will not change the things that concern us; real action in real life will.