Invoke Purpose, Not Despair

Don’t give up.

essay cover: image of candle burning in heart shaped window.

Don’t freak out.

Freaking out helps no one. Following every single atrocity helps no one. Stuffing your heart, mind, and soul with pain helps no one.

Be aware of the suffering. Be aware of the stakes. Then move away from the terror for a moment. Breathe. Center. Pray if that’s what you do. Breathe again. Take a drink of water (I hope your water is clean). Eat something (I hope you have access to nourishment). Sleep if need be (I hope you have a safe place to rest).

Don’t give up.

Don’t freak out. Or if you are freaking out, do your best to ask for help with it. Do your best to access your coping mechanisms. What comforts you? Seek it out.

There is too much going on for any one person to process. Fires. Wars. Starvation. Die offs. Mass migrations. Deaths. Mass Imprisonment. Rape. Fascism. Hatred. Children in cages. Images of animals in burning landscapes.

Take a breath. Find your center. Take another breath.

Slow your breathing down. Way down. Try to inhale and exhale evenly.

Do what you need to to take care of yourself. Ask for help if you need it.

Then organize. Find a group already doing work. Plug in. Or gather your family and friends.

Do one thing to help. One thing. Do one more if you have the time, energy, or money.

Connect: with community, with purpose, with your center, with what helps.

We need purpose now, not despair.

We need anger, and focus, and love.

We need the consistent showing up in as many ways as possible, to the possibility of justice.

We need to keep envisioning a world that cares, and build that world, together, in our own small ways.

No one is off the hook from this. Every human has to try. Those of us barely making it right now? The place you start is by asking for help. Or by just getting yourself through the day.

Those of us who have more breathing room? Stop spiraling into the long scrolling litany of rage and despair. Find a place to anchor. Then do something. Do any blessed thing you can.

  1. Feed someone.

  2. Clothe someone.

  3. Make phone calls.

  4. Teach something restorative.

  5. Donate to smaller organizations doing on the ground work (Pro tip: do not donate to massive operations that help no one but the CEO).

  6. Listen to those most directly impacted. Follow their lead when possible.

  7. Protest.

  8. Blockade.

  9. Do banner drops.

  10. Keep the pressure on those who hold political and institutional power.

  11. Write to corporation heads, demanding they change.

  12. If you have money? Give it away.

  13. Directly confront racism, misogyny, fascism, and other forms of hate and oppression.

There are thousands of ways to help….

Get angry, but don’t stew about it. Act.

Disrupt acts of oppression (Practice how you might do that with your friends).

Sabotage the machines of oppression.

Live your life the best you absolutely can.

And the more comfort you live with? (Clean water. A safe bed. Decent food. Family not incarcerated. Health care.) The more we’re counting on you to listen to those who don’t have these things, and to act in ways that help.

As long as we have each other, hope is never lost.

Tl;Dr: Keep breathing. Don’t give up. Ask for help if you need it. Organize. Plug in. Drink some water. Do one thing. Then another.

Part Two:

More Possible Disruptions of the Culture of Oppression:

  1. If transit police, security, ICE, CBP, or police are harassing someone, assess the situation.

  2. Is it safe for you to speak up? (The feeling of safety is different for all of us, depending on our personal situation. If what we are feeling is *uncomfortable* rather than actually *unsafe* it is up to us to push ourselves to speak and act).

  3. Are there others around that you can enlist to help intervene?

  4. Film. Take photos. Record names or badge numbers if possible. If you are willing and able, follow police/immigration if they try to take someone away.

  5. If the person being harassed or taken wants to, get their name and if possible, a contact phone number.

  6. Disrupt racist, misogynist, homophobic, trans antagonist etc comments and jokes.

  7. Explain why they are hurtful and bigoted.

  8. If someone is in possible danger, assess the situation.

  9. Are there others around to help?

  10. In what way are you willing and able to intervene?

  11. With your voice? By calling for help? With your body?

  12. Sometimes even letting the aggressor know you are witnessing is enough.

  13. Offer to walk a harassed person to a safer place, or if you have the funds, call a Lyft for them.

  14. Offer direct support to grassroots groups run by affected communities.

  15. Time. Money. Amplification of the cause.

  16. Offer direct support to houseless neighbors.

  17. Ask for what they want or need.

  18. Call your local government to protest the treatment of houseless neighbors, the poor, immigrants, or others.

  19. Attend City Council meetings and agitate for better mental health care and fewer arrests.

  20. Tell businesses who harass vulnerable or oppressed people that you will not spend money with them.

  21. Share pertinent, timely, helpful information in your social networks.

  22. (inflammatory articles and memes are most often not helpful.)

  23. Seek out education on issues and cultures you know little to nothing about.

  24. Write, sing, dance, make art that contributes to the world you want to see.

  25. Grow food and give it away.

 

This is reader funded writing. I thank all of my Patreon supporters for making it possible for me to provide one free essay and short story or poem every month. Most of this writing would not exist without these people. They all rock.

Want to join my Patreon crew? You get advance copies of essays and stories before they hit the web, plus a chance for free books once or so a year. 

One thousand blessings to patrons past and present: 

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