We have all been asleep. I have been asleep. I admit it fully and without reservation. I have always considered myself liberal and even progressive. But I was completely naive to think I would never have to fight for something that mattered to me. The world has felt a mess for weeks and I am getting numb to the frustration and the helplessness I feel.
I have spent the initial days of the Trump presidency in complete paralysis. I have made calls and written notes and shared social media posts. I have stayed in tune with local social justice organizations and tried to make it to meetings. I went to a Women’s March event. But, I also made the mistake of letting the unrelenting flow of calls to action and the pace of narrative sharing intimidate me into thinking that somehow I am not doing enough. Everyone’s resistance is difference–there are so many things to care about, so many ways to show your support. I feel pulled into a million different directions. I have to keep reminding myself: There is no one right way to resist.
Many activists, especially those with a long history of involvement in social and racial justice movements, lament the post-election bump in advocacy work. More recent advocates express outrage that not everyone is doing something–truth be told people have been “doing something” for a long time. In any event, it can feel like you’re doing it wrong or you’re not doing enough or you don’t know how to get into protesting or resisting and so it feels futile.
Resistance for me means knowing as many things as I can. I am more in tune with current events and political analysis than I have ever been in my entire life. It feels masochistic but I feel uneasy if hours go by without checking the news. And I don’t want the filtered, mediated version of the press conference or the hearing: I have become obsessed with primary source material. I suffered through many confirmation hearings, senate floor debates, the unbearable Trump press conference, and committee discussions. I would prefer to hear the content and filter it myself or at least understand the full picture of what’s happening.
Learning, sifting and filtering information for myself–this is my primary act of resistance. I feel equipped to counter false narratives and alternative facts.
And this month, I have put my resistance strategy to good use. Our school district’s education budget is under fire and the superintendent of our school system has proposed serious reductions. And I did what I do: read, digest, listen, and think. And tonight, I took a step towards resistance–and not in a small way. At a huge public forum, I was inspired to hear people share their personal stories (as I always am in these settings) and I waited to address the Board of Education and Town Council. And instead of saying the easy things, I asked them to reconsider our existing neighborhood attendance lines. It’s an unpopular stance but it is a conversation we will face as a district in the next five years.
In response to the state of our country and the maddening pace of political life, it would be easy to withdraw altogether. And focusing on your own community or family is important, but it cannot take the place of situating what happens locally in the national and international context. Retreating to your own enclave might be necessary–retreat can be a form of self-care. But for those with knowledge who could be helping the resistance, retreat is not an option.
I fought the inertia. I am finally in motion. Politics are politics are politics and I remain optimistic that one antidote to injustice is knowledge.