I Decided to be a Half-Asstivist and #Resist When I Can
What was your hypothesis?
When I woke up to a world where Donald Trump was president, I knew I was going to have to get more involved.
The thing is, the world was already kinda overwhelming to me before Trump.
I'm what you might call a delicate flower. I get distressed by everything from female genital mutilation to fluorescent lights. After burning out early in social justice work, I had stopped participating and focused on my own well-being. However, my conscience could not abide to sit on the sidelines anymore.
I would be an imperfect, intermittent half-asstivist.
I decided proceed with an experimental attitude. I know the slacktivist approach deserves plenty of criticism. However, for me, I know it is better to be imperfect than to try to do everything and burn out.
I would remember the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, who said, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be in motion."
"And that, of course, is the definition of vitality.”
What did your experiment entail?
I do not subject myself to the unbearable onslaught of the news. Instead, I follow local organizations who are doing something about it: Indivisible, #Resist Meet-up, a Unitarian Universalist church, March On Texas, and Black Lives Matter.
I pick action items and events, put them on my calendar and SHOW UP.
I cut myself all kinds of slack. I don't force myself to protest every new bill or executive order. I know that this is a privilege, and my goal is not to deny my privilege. It is to use it wisely, so that I have the chance to grow into my activism and have the endurance to keep resisting over the long-haul.
I also signed up to give a small monthly donation to the ACLU, so that anytime I am really half-assing it, I at least know that I am still contributing in some way.
What was it like?
The first time I called my senators, I spent all day writing a script and practicing. When I called, I started pitting out in nervous sweats. After all the follow-up emailing, posting and letter-to-the-editor writing, I was tired and felt like I had shouted into a vacuum.
I remembered the euphoria of the Women’s March. Even though I'm introverted, I decided to add some more communal approaches instead of always sweating it out alone.
Resisting with my community has felt novel and exciting.
I attended a UU church service where we broke into small groups right there in the sanctuary and discussed “What breaks my heart in my local community.” I went to a Meet-up with a bunch of millennials in a pizza and beer place to write post-cards for the Ides of Trump campaign. I protested Trump’s cabinet choices with a crowd outside of Senator Cornyn’s downtown Austin office.
I went with my family to the March for Science and chuckled at all the clever signs. I volunteered teaching children about light pollution and birds at environmental events.
I spent a morning with my partner researching and voting in a local election for the first time ever. I got called for jury duty, and as I watched my fellow citizens declare themselves too biased to serve, I didn’t try to get out of it. I spent three days considering the fate of a local tow-truck driver.
It's not world-changing, but it is changing my world.
I have learned:
Resistance can be joyous.
While a lot of activism can be tedious and frustrating, I have had some hilarious, beautiful and inspiring experiences that I would never had in my normal routine. The intelligent, fiery, funny people I have met are probably the same ones I have anonymously passed in the grocery store for years. Participating has shown me how diverse and how magnificently whole-hearted my community really is.
I am not responsible for fixing everything.
I often criticize myself for not doing more, but then I remember that it is not my job to change the system all alone. It is my job to participate as much as I can while taking care of myself. It is my job to honor the needs of both my conscience and my body.
The less I pressure myself, the more I can do.
I actually feel healthier and have more energy than before. Now when I relax or play, I don’t feel underlying guilt because I know I have contributed and will contribute more. I own the fact that this emotional trading is a privilege. I still feel it is in integrity, because it is what I must do to keep myself mentally well enough to participate.
I do what I can and let go of the results. Even if my efforts never change anything, they change me.
What have you done to deal to #resist? What are your self-care strategies? Comment or send in your latest experiments to be featured on the blog! Together, we are stronger.