I had a friend, about a decade older than me, a Kuwait woman who lived through the Iraqi invasion and occupation. She saw people killed in front of her. She told me once than in a strange way, it was also the best time of her life, because her life had meaning. The way she filled her day had literal life-or-death significance. She went from shopping for handbags to seeking out food and supplies for her family. It was genuinely terrible, she said, but she knew that she mattered. She knew her actions mattered.
For Americans, your actions matter more than ever right now. The temptation is going to be to hide. Hole up in your house and hope four years pass quickly. But the fact is, our choices now will determine exactly how much our country is harmed by racism and misogyny and climate denialism. Taking real risks in support of things you care about is an antidote for despair. It was for my friend. It is for me.
A few actions you can take (and look around you, there are more):
- The ACLU has advice on how to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper
- Planned Parenthood needs people to do everything from administrative support to clinic escorts
- Fight xenophobia by supporting refugee resettlement in your community
And, of course, do your part financially. Donating money doesn’t always feel like it’s a “real” action, but money is the lifeblood of good work. Money means rent paid, lights on, front line workers paid a living wage. Donate what you can, and consider becoming a fundraiser for a group you care about.