As we enter a perilous new year, here are five resistance resolutions:
1. Practice resistance each day. Political resistance is an American tradition; “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Take a stand for democracy. Slow down and focus. Resist.
If you’ve experienced a life-threatening disease, the process will be familiar. Live one day at a time. Focus on the essentials: taking care of yourself and regaining your health. Trump is a democracy-threatening disease. Focus on taking care of yourself and regaining democracy.
Perhaps begin each day with an aphorism: “I am a patriot;” “Actions speak louder than words;” “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end;” “I will not let Trump defeat me.” Whatever works for you.
Follow with a simple act of defiance. For example, resolve to not listen to news for 24 hours. Resolve to add another name to your “Boycott Trump Donors” list. Join a march or demonstration. Send $ to the resistance. Etcetera.
Above all, resist the Trump propaganda machine that repeats lies over and over until many Americans believe they are the truth. Resist the “normalization” of Trump. What is happening is not normal; America is experiencing a right-wing coup.
2. Acknowledge that you are grieving. Trump’s victory was a traumatic event, a death of sorts. Place yourself along the continuum of the five stages of grief; are you in denial, anger, bargaining, depression, or acceptance?
If you are stuck in depression, acknowledge where you are. Seek assistance.
In terms of this traumatic event, “acceptance” means “recognizing what is true.” What is true is that a narcissistic, paranoid, white-supremacist bloviator is going to become President of the United States.
Recognizing what is true doesn’t imply passivity or acquiescence. Remember Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” In this situation, acceptance means recognizing what is true and, then, moving forward with resistance. Trump may become President but we do not have to accept his authority. We do not have to believe what he says or support his actions.
Resistance requires serenity, courage, and wisdom. Get your shit together, the resistance needs you.
3. Spend time in nature. Instead of watching the news or checking Facebook, take a walk. Get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life and, for however brief a period, immerse yourself in nature. Take a deep breath and look around. This is what we are fighting for.
Read Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things.” Take a break “in the grace of the world.” Ground your activism in the earth.
4. Join with others. Developing a broad, mindful resistance movement is an exercise in community building. First, treat your family with kindness. Don’t let yourself withdraw or lash out in redirected anger. Embrace yourself and your loved ones. Offer comfort.
Extend that circle of love and support to your friends and community.
Recognize that if you have been stuck in depression, or passivity, your allies may feel the same way. Reach out with compassion.
5. Cherish your own perspective. Search for your own truth and guard it ferociously.
Recognize what you can change and find the courage to take action. Help your friends negotiate the transition from depression to action.
On February 15, 2015, the noted neurologist, Oliver Sacks, published an essay in the New York Times, "My Own Life," on how he had come to grips with the knowledge that he had terminal liver cancer. (Sacks died in August.) Sacks wrote of feeling "intensely alive" and added: "I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends."
Now you and I are faced with the possible death of democracy. There is no time for anything inessential. We must focus. We must resist.