Stand up and fight!

A dear friend sent me an e-card for Christmas, filled with birds and flowers and music.

Her message, typically feisty, ended with: “And in 2017 we fight!”

An avowed, life-long progressive — and one of the smartest science writers I know (here’s a link to her terrific book, “Fevered” , about climate change and its effects on health, globally) — she’s full of piss and vinegar as  I think we all should be in 2017, and for the next four years.

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There has been a shocking and dis-spiriting increase in hate crimes, physical attacks and appalling verbal abuse in the past few months, both in Britain post-Brexit and in the United States, after the election of a President who has vilified women, Muslims, Mexicans and many others.

Not acceptable!

By “fight” I don’t mean fisticuffs.

I don’t mean screaming abuse back at someone who’s clearly got boundary issues.

Nor do I mean seeking some shouty, nasty draaaaama, if that can be avoided.

But I do mean — stiffen your spine, no matter how scared you are of what might happen if you do. (Clearly, not if you live in an abusive situation, where your life and that of others is at risk.)

In the past month, after long deliberation and, yes, fearful of the consequences, I finally stood up and fought for myself in three difficult and enervating situations, one within my family (I wrote a long letter, snail mailed); one within my parish (ditto) and one with a client whose disregard for basic courtesy (and abysmal pay) were grim beyond words.

It takes guts to tell someone, (who can just blow you off completely): “Enough!”

It takes trust in your own judgment of what you truly most need.

It also means preparing for the potential consequences, the most frightening bit: loss of income, loss of affection, affiliation, respect, losing your welcome within a community.

But the costs of not fighting for what you know is right can be crippling to your mental, emotional and physical health.

To your self-esteem and confidence.

So, eventually, it must be done.

Ask for help before you do it, from a friend, a therapist, a loving partner, to steady your nerves and make sure you’re not about to self-immolate.

But we’re also living in strange and challenging times, politically.

So, it’s also time to go fight the good fight for social justice and economic progress that doesn’t , once more, simply re-enrich the already wealthy; 95 percent of Americans, according to a recent New York Times report, have seen no rise in their income in seven years.

If all we do is whinge and cringe, nothing will change.

So…

Write to your elected representatives.

Work hard – if you live in the U.S. — to get some Democrats elected in the mid-term elections, only two years away.

Donate your time, energy or money to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and other groups working daily to protect our rights, bodily and civil.

Write letters to the editor, in print; women, especially! Most of those appearing these days are written by men.

On-line, leave civil, smart comments.

If you’re a writer, send out some op-eds, essays and opinion pieces or reported stories to keep issues front and center.

If you see someone being verbally abused in a public setting, stand beside them to signal that you’re an ally. Speak calmly and quietly to them. Do not ignore cruelty; passivity signals assent.

It’s not the time to shrug and look away.

It’s not the time to say “Not my problem.”

It’s not the time to just soak up fake news and comforting lies.

It’s not the time to ignore the news because “it’s too depressing.” It’s our world.

Here’s a powerful example of exactly what I’m talking about — ignoring a child’s racist cruelty and why it’s a terrible choice:

There is never a “time and place” for cruelty. By staying silent, you robbed the little girl of the acknowledgment and the apology to which she was entitled. And you deprived the boy of learning the consequences of nasty behavior. He may not understand how mean he was. But your inaction ensured that his ignorance persists.

Here are some tools to help you be a useful ally.

If you oppose President-Elect Trump and his values and policies, here’s a 10-point plan of action.

 

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The unity march in Paris. January 2015

11 thoughts on “Stand up and fight!

  1. wonderful gift. i’m involved with an activist group here and have answered the call to action. i can’t let myself sit idly by while this goes on in my country. my youngest daughter will be going to washington to take part in the women’s protest march during the inauguration period.

    1. I’m not surprised to read this!

      My husband (news photographer) warns every woman attending to be aware that cops there might use tear gas (or, even worse in winter) water cannon — so she needs to be physically and emotionally prepared. I so so fearful of life under DJT.

      I’m wary of attending the march because, with a green card, I cannot afford being arrested.

      1. i completely understand this and know that activism can also take place behind the scenes. my daughter and i are discussing the personal risks involved and she is still planning to go. we’ve talked about being prepared for anything and to try her best to stay safe while exercising her right and desire to protest.

  2. Pingback: [BLOG] Some Wednesday links | A Bit More Detail

  3. Some of that behaviour has leaked over the border or has given “permission” to a few people here to spew whatever phobic or racist crap that’s festering in their minds. Others are tromping on them or are ensuring that their hate is mitigated. I hope that continues and that this “influence” will be of short duration.

    1. I know, as I follow a number of Canadian news sources on Twitter — and see what my friends there on FB post as well; there were some horrible such events in Ottawa (!?) I don’t get it. It is a disgusting pattern of behavior and, down here, it’s difficult to know how safe it is, in fact, to step up and intervene — in some states, people can be legally carrying a gun.

  4. Oh, I hesitate even to respond because I wrote a blog entry post-election about not liking the results but feeling the whining and bemoaning was a waste of time (not exactly in those words:)). I was making the pt. that feeling like a victim rather than realizing your own power never works. And I got trounced once or twice by a couple of fellow bloggers. But, here I go–I agree with you. Fight the good fight–not in obnoxious or unenlightened ways. But with dignity, strength, resolve. Those are the three bits that I fear will be missing from some of these fights . . .

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