From Anger and Angst to ACTION
I know that I have a lot of company in current extreme emotions -- sadness, shock, disbelief, disgust, anxiety. The stages of grief described by Kubler Ross are present at different levels all around us. But fortunately, embedded in these emotions, is the question, “What do we do now?”
I’m a big believer in personal action to improve things - help a neighbor, tutor a child, be polite in traffic, etc. But lately I’ve been looking for a more formal, organized way to deal with these emotions. I don’t want to neutralize them; I want to “actionize” them.
To this goal I’ve been gathering information from the media, the web, from friends and from overheard conversations at the gym. What are we going to DO? The time for the stage of hand wringing is over.
While I continue to believe in and practice personal behaviors to improve things, it also feels as if it is time to become part of an organization.
My list grows by the day: the ACLU, Amnesty International, moveon.org, Common Cause, the Democratic Party, and Sierra Club are a few. Even making the list has been encouraging. To see so many ways that people are trying to address the current “situation” and make things better.
I’m at the research stage, but am getting close to finding the right place to focus my energy and skills. I don’t have a lot of money to donate, but my experience as a writer and psychologist are valuable. This is leading me to Tom Steyer’s organization. Its main issues are climate and kids. I like to concentrate on actions that will yield the most bang for the buck, and it’s also good to deal where there are plenty of bucks. Steyer’s organization seems, for me, to be a good place.
Long range, the emphasis of Steyer’s organization on education could bring about a populace more employable and, equally important, intelligent enough to sort through some of the flurry of information and misinformation that is dumped upon them. In the current election this is a skill that could have come in handy.
This brings up another action we can take. Even though journalism is not a group or organization we can join, we can support it through subscriptions, letters and viewing habits. Yes, much reporting on the recent election became a kind of click bait, but we also saw some signs of real journalism. There were good follow-up questions, unrelenting efforts to get an answer, and journalists able to not be distracted by the “Shiny Object.” Some were even taking risks to their own safety to seek and tell the truth. They are my heroes, (along with classroom teachers and parents.)
Many otherwise sedentary people are trying to figure out what action to take before the energy wains and “settling” takes over again. This time and this situation might have brought a lot of us awake. So in that respect, maybe it could be a good thing. Many artists describe the experience of working on a piece where there was an obstacle or a mistake. As they address and work around that mistake they create an even better work of art. I’m trying to see this situation in that way. How can the mobilization of this sleeping giant of good intentions awakened into action create a more beautiful outcome?
Some will be satisfied with rallies and marches and the benefit is to let the opposition know that we are here, but those expressions are at their best if they mobilize us to action and let the other side know that we are here to DO something. If the anger is energizing us, then stay angry - but let it help us also stay focused, active and hopeful.
The advice around safety is, “If you see something, say something.” Another piece of advice around our safety might be, “If you feel something, do something.”
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