As people tire of social unrest, there are those who would suggest that this is a culture "war." That kneeling is somehow a form of disrespect. That broken windows are worse than a life ended. That trying to elevate one group of people somehow oppresses another group of people.
Don't let them fool you for a moment.
What is happening now is not about war. It's about LOVE. Love for our fellow humans. Love for our children and grandchildren, who deserve better than the world we've created so far. Love for the earth, which is straining from our demands.
Do you know what love is? Love is not a feeling or an emotion. Love is behavior. Love is a choice, backed by commitment. The drama of protest can be an exciting, dynamic, essential precursor to change. But for change to occur, there must be a pivot from expression to action. From emotions to practical, clear-eyed strategy. What do you choose to do next? Here are some choices to make right now:
- Choose to vote. Yes, both foreign and domestic entities are interfering with our right to vote and our access to vote. That's why it's more important than ever that you exercise this right. Register today if you haven't already.
- Choose to vote in every single election from now on - not just the presidential elections. Social and political change happen at the local level first. Make a pledge now to never miss an election ever again.
- Choose to talk with all your friends and family about registering to vote. Be that person who won't stop bringing it up. These talks matter.
- Choose to take the next best step in every election, not waiting for perfect candidates to appear. Because perfect candidates never appear. But there's always a next best step in our path to healing this country from the abomination we elected in 2016, and the excesses of greed and lack of social conscience that have been at play for decades in our political institutions.
- Choose to get involved in one issue, action, or organization. Make calls for your local Democratic party. Join a local committee exploring redistribution of funding for social support programs. Actively monitor your own unobserved biases and make sure that you are voting for women, people of color, LGBTQ, and people of broad cultural and religious backgrounds to office, in order to make sure we achieve proper representation of all types of people in elected office. Create lists of local and industry Black/POC owned companies as a way to spread economic benefits. Drive voters to polls, or participate in efforts to make standing in line at polls less difficult (because one of the ways the opposition is trying to reduce Democratic voting is to make voting in person almost unbearable). There are so many things you can do (more suggestions welcome in comments). Choose one way to make a difference, and DO it.
- Choose to also act with your your money. Not everyone can do this, but you probably can - a little bit goes a long way. Choose one important organization: Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, MS Foundation for Women, Unsilence . . . there are literally thousands of under-funded, beneficiant organizations that work locally, regionally, and nationally. Pick one, and give $10 each month if that's all you have. If we all did that, we could fund major change.
There's more, but let's end with this one - perhaps the most difficult one: Choose to think deeply about the issues, your reactions to them, and your own fears. Pursue self-education, and be open to the discomfort of self-awareness. There are cynical and destructive actors, and lazy/unthinking/defensive re-actors surrounding you. You cannot allow yourself to be manipulated by the one or influenced by the other.
We have seen how easy it was for us to become a nation of thoughtless, refusing-to-care-for-our-neighbor, forgiving-of-amoral-behavior, shallow, defensive meme-throwers. Fixing it will be more difficult.
It will require an Activist Corps. It will require people committed to thinking deeply about the issues, committed to self-education, committed to participation, committed to voting, and influencing others to vote. It will require sustained, active, choice to fix it.
The protests were a way to amplify the message and command attention. But if we don't follow them with meaningful action, they were just drama. Don't stop at drama. Let's take all that energy and turn it into action.
And remember every step of the way that this is about Love. The choice to act is the choice to love.
I choose to act, because I love you all.