Credit where credit is due: A commenter in the Bullish Society used the phrase “resist/work/life balance,” which she said was inspired by “work/life/resistance balance” as used in this post by Laura Mandanas on Autostraddle: Take A Beat To Bask In The Glory of Women Scientists And STEM News. We love Autostraddle!
Here’s a question that I think speaks to what we’re all feeling. I feel it. (The world is on fire. Nice people made the best Nazis. Complacent people too. Don’t be a Nazi.)
But what do you do? Quit your job right now? That is indeed the right answer for some people. But not for most. Here:
Politics is really keeping me off my game at work. I write to my reps and have donated money to all the appropriate causes, most recently to organizations that help immigrants and refugees, but I still feel constantly guilty. I can’t just quit my job (I think?), but when the world is a flaming hellscape, it seems wrong to go through the motions.
That, indeed, is the quandary of the moment. I don’t have all the answers, and my main answer involves a time machine and better voter turnout, but here are some tips that might help.
How do you stay motivated at work when the world is on fire?
If you’re donating money and buying yourself plane/train/bus tickets to marches, would you be able to do that without your job? If not, keep it up at your job! Try to get a raise, even! I guarantee you could find ways to put the extra money to effective social justice use.
Related post: How to Ask for More Money Part II (“asking for more money is important for feminism”)
Feel like you’re not a “real” activist?
Maybe you’re not. Real activists need your money and resources, though. Do that.
Also: The less of an activist you are, perhaps the more power you have to persuade those around you. That is, are you a little boringly normal? Good. Do you have some boringly normal neighbors who maybe voted for Trump, or didn’t vote? Great. If you were a full-time progressive firebrand, those people may not want to hear what you have to say, because you’ve already turned them off, and frankly, they kind of already know what you have to say. If you are boringly normal like them, they may be surprised to discover how horrified, worried, and galvanized you are by what is happening.
We need activists. We also need everyday people who fly under the radar to just talk to people around them (and vote, and make phone calls to your reps in the privacy of your own home, and donate what you can).
How Can I Defend Feminist Ideas If I’m Terrible at Arguing?
How to Really Change People’s Minds (Hint: Later)
Define a good input/output balance and then give yourself permission to disengage from too many inputs.
Example: If you read 15 horrifying articles and make 3 phone calls, that’s a 5:1 ratio. Does that feel okay? Adjust until it does. Do not read 50 horrifying articles and do 0 things about them. You don’t need to read 25 articles, or keep watching television commentary about something you already know is bad, to do one thing.
If the maximum number of things you can do in a week is 5, how much input do you need in order to do those things? If you are reading 50 articles and taking 5 actions, could you read 10 articles instead and take those same 5 actions? If you only read 10 articles instead of 50, could you do 6 actions instead of 5?
Could you even eliminate the input entirely for a bit and just do the output? Just to get a short mental break? What if you did a one-week news blackout, and only did the output? There are some issues where you need to be up-to-the-minute, but there’s plenty that isn’t going to change in a week. You could:
- write postcards to your reps about those issues
- spend a week talking to your apolitical family members
- organize a fundraiser
- take on some overtime hours and donate the money to a good cause
Or tell a like-minded friend that you’re overloaded, and could she just tell you what she’s calling her reps about, and you’ll do the same?
Those are some ideas. Go forth, be well, take care of people, fix shit as best you can.
Update: If you need a break from news, you could also try wall-of-us.org, “four concrete acts of resistance delivered to your inbox each week.”
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