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When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. - Audre Lorde

We are living in troubled times. With a political regime that elicits fear + terror and a world filled with misunderstandings and ignorance, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed.

What can we do as just one person against a system? How can we take action while still doing our best to serve our current life? How can we rally for our causes while our family members have extreme opposite views? Should we involve our businesses? What do we say to our children? Will any of it even make a difference?

It's no wonder many of us are walking around either totally disconnecting from social media/news or crying hysterically as we obsess with refreshing the news feed.... neither of which is helpful or supportive if we want to make real change.

So what do we do?

I have compiled a few strategies I have committed to incorporating into my own life, to maintain my sanity while still being an agent of change in the world. This list is practical, pragmatic and, if you honor it, will give you a sense of enoughness during a time when it may feel impossible to do enough.

One thing to note: this list doesn’t just apply to the right now, but for all of us as we endeavor in becoming conscious, responsible, moral citizens of the world. On some level, we are all budding activists, teaching the world what we believe about ourselves and others. Making your life mean something beyond you means purposefully taking your head out of the sand, asking questions, and getting engaged. You and your actions matter.

1. Focus on only one to two key issues

I know it feels tempting to do everything. To address everything. To participate in everything. But this will only lead to burn out and ineffectiveness. Rather, focus on one to two issues that are important to you. Issues that you would be willing to move mountains for. That you are passionate to mobilize people around. Maybe that’s environmental policy, social justice, or immigration. 

Then, get specific, what about social justice are you going to focus on? Mass incarceration? Education? 

Once you select your issues - DO YOUR RESEARCH. Spreading fear by sharing articles online that may not even be accurate, because you didn’t do your research to know any better, without any indication of what anyone can DO about it, is not helpful. Instead, step into a space of curiosity and learn as much as possible about the problems at hand before thrusting your power behind the cause. Make systematic analysis, uncover root causes, be diligent.

Read: this is not an invitation to not take action until you understand every nook and cranny of the issue. Rather, this is about being effective in your participation because you have deeper understanding of what is really going on and what is an exaggeration or click bait.

2. Surround yourself with diversity

Being a moral citizen means knowing all sides of the issue, understanding why things are the way they are, and being open-minded to diverse opinions.

You have to understand the system before you can change it. Different voices can offer points of views that can strengthen your ability to address the issue. It is these different voices that are going to give you a well-rounded understanding and action plan. Notice if your entire community is white heterosexual cis women. If so, you are missing out on understanding how the political conversation is affecting oppressed people in ways you can't even imagine.

Being a part of the resistance is only going to work if we INTENTIONALLY invite in the voices of ALL people, all backgrounds, all experiences. 

Take a look down your newsfeed. Do you see a variety of voices expressing their unique truths? If not, go do your homework. Go look at what POC are saying ab the marches. Go see what the LGBTQIA communities are saying about the pussy hats. Go see what Native Americans are saying about immigration.

Educate yourself. Who is already doing the work that you can rally around and support? Look at all angles. We need women activated more than ever. But it needs to be done together. Ignorance is NOT bliss, it’s just plain ignorance.

3. Make mistakes, do what you can + then let go of the rest.

So now that you've gotten educated, and cultivated a network of people that can offer tremendous insight around your specific issues... I invite you to honestly ask yourself, “what am I really willing to do about it?”

This is the basis of feeling enough; creating a commitment, an understanding of where you are and what you are willing to do about any given challenge in your life.

Is the extent of your willingness to share posts on social media? Is it to call your congress people? Is it to attend protests and town meetings? Is it to donate to organizations that are making a difference?

Get honest with yourself on where you're at and what you can really willing to do.

If you’re not sure of what to do at all, seek out and find the experts online, the political activists in whatever area you are focused on and see what they are doing. What are they rallying their community to do? Go do it. Again, you do not have to recreate the wheel. There are already incredible experts in their field doing the work. Bring your energy, your time, your money and your power behind them and you will be amazed at how things move.

And then let go of the rest. Let go of the expectation that you will turn into a superhero overnight {you won't}. That you can be everywhere and do everything {you can’t}. That you have to do it perfectly {that’s impossible}.

Here’s the thing though - please do not get paralyzed by your worthiness. You WILL mess up. You will get called in. You will learn. And it’s this journey that will shape you into an intentional, conscientious individual. 

4. Do the inner work

Jesus taught us - love thy enemies. This is not a wishful thinking statement for the saints, it’s a practical roadmap for how to guide our lives. When we wish our enemies happiness, their suffering will no longer hurt the world. 

To the extent that you have challenges experiencing compassion, empathy and understanding for those who are suffering and hurting the world is to the extent that you have inner work to do. And this inner work is absolutely crucial to the success of your activism.

MLK, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and numerous other peaceful activists taught us that only love can drive our darkness.

I get it, though, our fear with love is that it’s passive. That only anger can drive us to action. And while anger does have its strengths, it will only make people feel defensive, closed off and more unwilling to change. 

Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield shares, "Whatever your political perspective, the Dharma encourages a life of compassion, mutual respect, virtue and protection for all.

There is a fundamental nobility and dignity to all human beings. In your own way, your practice is to find this nobility and freedom in yourself, and honor it in others. When fear and untruth guide us individually or collectively, they lead to suffering for all. The Dharma offers another, wiser way to live.

Now is the time to practice, to steady your mind and open your heart. Then listen to your deepest values and find your own unique way to embody and stand for them. The world needs your wisdom and care, your compassion, your clarity and courage."

Meditate. Pray. Do yoga. Heal your deep traumas. Cultivate self-love. This is crucial for us to build the resiliency required to be unfuckwithable, to go against the grain, to support those in need. This inner work is a necessary step in cultivating a compassionate society.

5. Disconnect + self-care

Once you have taken steps to each of the principles above, it is crucial that we rest. 

As a political organizer for over 30 years, Sara Motta shared, “I have seen many a discussion in which ideas of self-care are ridiculed and presented as merely self-indulgent, individualistic and consumerist distractions from the real politics of organising. Yes, self-care has been co-opted and commodified, as have terms like participation, democracy, hope and faith. But, and this is absolutely crucial to really listen to, there are rich militant traditions and practices of the now in which self-care is deeply political, in which the ability of our communities to act, care and create together means attention to the suffering, trauma and struggle that confronts so many of us everyday and which means we are not in a position to go on the street, for we are too sick, or we might lose our job, or we have post-trauma, or our kin are lost in the addictions and illusions of communities that have been under attack for lifetimes, or we are struggling to get our children back from the state, out of the clutches of child protection or the prisons. 

Self-care means taking seriously the conditions of our lives, and what enables us to be able to be present, and to continue, including being able to eat and eat well, care for our aching and often broken hearts and bodies, support with resisting and navigating the state in all its forms, to getting up each day.

Collective self-care in this way involves attention to rhythm, on the need to give time (even and because everything is urgent and speeding up) to rest, play, tenderness, listening and sharing together. These are as important as going to an action, for it is easy for the state to break us, round us up, terrorise us if we only ever meet during, or our focus is only on, actions and protests. It becomes something totally different, when we co-create a completely different terrain when we have dense webs of relationships, ways of resisting, surviving and flourishing outside and beyond their tentacles.”

We must be able to take care of our own lives if we are to take care of others. This is not selfish, it's imperative.

Remember, my love. You are not a victim of circumstance. You have all the power to change the reality around you. You are not powerless, you are strong beyond measure. And while change doesn’t happen overnight, it DOES happen. Hold faith, take action, do good.

Be unfuckwithable,