I cried on election day.
I cried when the Women’s March happened, and I was watching on TV because I had to work that day.
I cried when I didn’t get a job after I had a verbal offer because the federal hiring freeze took it off the table.
I cried reading about those effected by the Muslim ban.
Then I said to myself, “Quit being such a drama queen!” Crying is not helpful. It doesn’t make me feel better and it doesn’t help anyone else. I am not a born activist, so I have been feeling highly ineffectual and useless as I watch things happen to my country that I don’t believe in. I haven’t been sure how to help.
So, as just a normal woman who cares, I humbly offer a few suggestions for those of you who realize that fighting with family members is not only toxic, it achieves nothing. Here are a few simple things you can do that may have an impact and may make you feel better.
- Give money. If you have a job, give AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AFFORD. Sacrifice a week of coffee from the coffee shop. Sacrifice a pair of shoes. Sacrifice going out to dinner once this week or month. Do what it takes to be able to afford to give as much as you reasonably can. I believe very much in charitable giving, and have written about it in a previous blog. What particular issue is bothering you today? If it is the Muslim ban, consider donating to the American Civil Liberties Union or to the International Rescue Committee just for example; there are others. If women’s reproductive rights worry you, give to Planned Parenthood, International Women’s Health Coalition, or Marie Stopes to name a very few. If land rights of Native Americans has you fired up, give to Partnership with Native Americans, or to Standing Rock or others. Worried about the wall? The National Immigration Law Center is one group that is helping. Whatever your cause, give them much needed funds. You can divide your giving up or give it all in one place, just give.
- Give time. I saw a post saying that volunteer lawyers need interpreters at the airport. For New York, try calling NYCLU: 212-549-2500. You can register as a volunteer with Planned Parenthood or with the Immigrant and Refugee Committee Organization. For other volunteer opportunities in your locality, check out Volunteer Match. Here is another blog with some great ideas. Want to serve your country in a big way? Volunteer through domestically through Vista/Americorps/Elder Corps or internationally through the Peace Corps.
- Let your voice be heard. Posting on social network or a blog (like this one) feels meaningful, and it certainly shares your opinion, but does it do anything? You need to let your Senators (you have two no matter what state you live in) and your Representative (you have one for your district in your state) know what you think. Just google their name to get their details or here are the senators and here is how you can find your representative. You can call, email or write a letter. You may even be able to stop in to your local office. If you call, you may get a person or you may get a recording and you can leave a message. In either instance, state your full name, city of residence and zip code, and phone number. Then clearly, and concisely state “I support XXX” or “I oppose XXX.” The more succinct you are the better, so they can clearly tally where you stand on the issues. Tell them your stance on the cabinet nominees, on the refugee ban on the hiring freeze on the ACA. Don’t bother with the why. Short and to the point is best! Remember, if you get a real person on the other end of the line, he or she is not your congressperson. If you disagree with your congressperson, do not take it out on that staffer. Be kind. You can also write letters, postcards and emails. I have heard of people having post-card parties; you can invite your friends for an evening of venting and while you drink wine, write postcards that you volunteer to mail out for everyone. Stamps are still pretty cheap!
- Join a protest. This is an age-old tradition in our country. From the Black Life Matters demonstrations to Women’s March to the Pro-life March to the Tea Party gatherings to the proposed Scientists’ March, people on both sides of the issues are gathering to be heard as a collective. Show up, carry a poster, be a part of PEACEFUL democracy. Violence achieves nothing and in fact, will hurt any cause. Whichever side you stand on, respect that the other has a right to their view to. Let your voice be heard, don’t silence the opposing voice.
- Work to improve the lives of others. Careers in nonprofit are a real thing. Use your skills for good. Check out Idealist, Indeed or Careers in Nonprofits. You can register to get regular updates. However, take it from someone who knows, this is a competitive field! Just because you will make less money than your corporate counter part, doesn’t mean you can be any less experienced, but if you have worked in the corporate sector, that often translates well. Nonprofits are often looking to apply private sector practices to improve their work.
- Consume responsibly. Some companies will support what you believe in and may contribute money or behave responsibly towards issues that are important to you. Educate yourself. Don’t be a blind buyer just going for the cheapest item. I have written about ethical shopping and fashion in a previous blog. There has been a lot in the news recently on companies that support people negatively impacted by recent initiatives. For example, Lyft, Uber Air BNB and Google have all pledged to help those affected by the immigration ban. Starbucks has also pledged support. There are many companies, and you know how to Google, so see what your favorite brand is doing for the beliefs you believe in. Here is a site that tells you what some companies are doing in terms of their contributions. Be careful though. Companies will ‘white wash’ to clean up an otherwise dirty act! If you are not into Trump, there is an app that can help you determine if a company supports him, and you can choose not to patronize them or to do so if that is more your thing. Do your research. Living and shopping ethically is not easy, and don’t just rely on what you see your friends post. Fact check!
- Vote. So this may seem obvious, and news flash, it is too late right now, but unless you don’t live to see mid-term elections, those of you who didn’t vote will get a chance to redeem yourself. Trump won the election. He won the electoral college vote. He is the legitimate president. Whether that makes you sad or happy, it is a fact. What is also a fact, however, is this notion that the “people have spoken.” That is not entirely true. The Trump vs Clinton Election had low voter turnout relative to recent elections. Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million votes. That doesn’t matter in terms of winning the election. But it is still relevant. Also relevant is how few votes the winner of this election garnered. In 2016, Donald Trump won with just under 63 million votes to Clinton’s over 65 million. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost with just under 61 million votes while Obama had almost 66 million and in 2008, McCain lost with just under 60 million votes to Obama’s 69.5 Do the math, fewer people voted, and while Obama blew the popular vote out of the water, Trump didn’t win it. His approval rating is low, so while he won, there is not overwhelming support. This means, if you agree with him, you had best make sure you don’t rest on your laurels, and if you disagree, you need to vote for change! Vote in the mid-terms in November 2018, and vote in 2020. It is your responsibility. The apathy of this election helped no one.
Inaction, achieves nothing, so act small or act big, but act. Democracy is a government for and by the people, and you have a right and a duty to participate. If you don’t participate, you don’t get to complain when things don’t go as you like them. Join the peaceful fight with whichever side you align!