Friday, January 27, 2017

Staying Sane These Days

A Facebook Friend whom I respect greatly asked this question: "How are you all staying sane in our era of insanity?" This blog post is not about debating whether or not we are in an era of insanity, although I happen to agree that it's as apt a characterization as anything else. After all, we are living in an environment where #AlternativeFacts = #DeliberateFalsehoods, as we have witnessed repeatedly when denials are countered by recorded, televised proof, including contradictory statements by the speakers themselves at different time periods.

My response to "How are you all staying sane in our era of insanity?" is shown below:

By working at staying "unhooked" by the news stories and by parsing what is said and done and what the commentators are saying. I'm a pragmatist, and I'm staying focused on the issues but not ignoring the players. Emotional response is a luxury for me when so much is at stake.

I believe in the power of righteous indignation. I also know that fear as a response to what is happening in the current administration is real and has a basis in fact. However, indignation and fear can be paralyzing and also time consumers. 

As a Person of Color and a person from a refugee-immigrant heritage (mother and both sets of grandparents), hate acts, profiling, restrictions on civil rights, etc. are not new news. They are part of my lived experience. They are not part of the lived experience of people who have various kinds of privilege, chief among them, White Privilege. Class Privilege is right up there next to White Privilege.

It is an act of resistance to be disciplined enough to recognize that acting out of being upset and angry (and I feel a lot of anger) is unproductive and wastes time. I also recognize my position as an elder and someone who has done anti-racism work for decades. That means remaining focused on the work of helping others to engage their fears and behavior, which is both goal and commitment to action.

My advice to everyone is to do the homework of learning what is actually going on. Engage in conversations that help you deepen your understanding and that challenge what you know or think you know. Be gentle with yourself, and also be relentless with yourself as you seek to become a better neighbor to all whom you encounter.

I want to make clear that I believe we each have a claim as well as a responsibility to be part of the work that will be needed to become better neighbors to one another. For me, that also means that while your part might be to take action such as marching or protesting, actions such as making phone calls or writing letters are also important and equally valid. It takes all of us to move justice and peace forward, doing what we can, when we can, as well as we can. 

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