With each passing day of Trump’s presidency, the world gets scarier—at least if you believe in a world where women have agency over their bodies, Muslims are treated like people, and Nazis’ grip on power is a thing of the past. There are great articles online about how to resist, how to support those who are the most affected by the spreading inequality and how to find your own brand of activism. They’re helpful and inspirational, but can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you deal with anxiety and/or have fewer resources at your disposal to help; be they financial, emotional, physical, etc.
When I ask myself if I’m doing enough as an ally, I get scared that the answer is ‘no’. And since being disheartened or overwhelmed can lead to inaction, I’m dusting off that trusty saying: “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” If you’re in the same boat, I invite you to join me in starting small and going from there.
Give yourself credit for what you’re already doing. Your capacity will grow with your confidence, practice and the positive reinforcement you give yourself any time you take a step in the right direction.
Here, in no particular order, are my top 5 everyday acts of resistance:
1) Tell the truth
The Orwellian term ‘alternative facts’ has forged its place in our global lexicon. We can’t control the lies that come out of the White House, but we can control whether we contribute to the spread of misinformation, fake news, and half-truths. Fact-check. Checking the facts before sharing or re-tweeting takes a couple minutes and makes the internet a more honest and accurate reflection of our world. Begin your personal resistance one click at a time.
2) Respect is intersectional
Respect immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, POC, women ...
At first it was just talk: Trump mocking reporter Serge Kovaleski, talking about pussy-grabbing and generally being an abusive bully in the way he talks about and treats people. Innocent times, am I right?
Talk has quickly morphed into action, as ideas about who is worthy of respect become laws about who is worthy of freedom, health and safety.
As important as effecting change is changing the conversation. For me, this starts with challenging my own biases.
I use my commute time on the TTC to look around and ask myself, “What do I automatically assume about the people around me?” and, “How might that be wrong?”
If I catch myself judging a fellow passenger, sometimes I ask myself a question that helps remind my brain that they’re a person, not a stereotype. I use questions like, “I wonder what they ate for breakfast,” (then realize I’m assuming they ate breakfast) or, “I wonder what music they like”.
It makes me better at talking to other people about their biases from a place of non-judgment. I know what it’s like to have those blindspots.
3) See the good
This is easier said than done. Obviously. Obviously.
Trump’s assertion that he can "make America great again" rests on a bullshit assumption that things were terrible. Specifically it's a dog-whistle for predominantly heterosexual cisgender white working-and-middle-class males who fear their perceived loss of privilege.
Surviving these next 4 years will require some degree of optimism. We can’t fight back if we forget what we’re fighting for. That does not mean ignoring the bad stuff. It means making a conscious effort to see the good stuff.
If a gratitude journal isn’t your style, try linking gratitude to a pre-existing daily habit like brushing your teeth. Use that time to name 5 things you’re grateful for.
If it’s been a rough day and you don’t actually feel grateful, that’s okay. Try it anyway. Decide to be grateful for small things: like the fact that you can breathe, or that chocolate exists. Say it, even if you don’t feel it. Say it even if it's unintelligible because you’re talking around a mouthful of toothpaste. Say it even if you feel silly. Optimism breeds resilience.
4) Put social media in its place
Trump tweets at all hours of the night instead of focusing on running the country, and it's become a running joke. We learn about one terrifying executive order after another. We can't escape it when we spend our lives on social media. There's a case to be made for remaining vigilant, but I suggest a certain level of moderation. This collective fear renders many of us incapable of putting down our devices. That comes at a cost.
You’re not the president of a country (presumably), but you do have things in your life that are more important than social media. Water your plants, walk your dog, hug someone you love.
Cross something off your to-do list. Find a way to make today better than yesterday. There's something only you can do. Put time and effort into that thing.
Try to be aware of how much space social media is taking up in your life. If you want it to take up less, try setting a timer or tracking how much time you spend online.
5) Take the competition out of self-love
Trump is excellent at tooting his own horn at everyone else's expense.
He’s never just great, he’s the best. If someone doesn’t agree, then they’re labelled SAD. A failure. His philosophy is, "I’m the greatest and everyone else is terrible”. Now that's sad.
You're likely not at a Trump-level of putting others down. But we all judge. It's easy to judge people who may not be where we’re at. Or maybe you suffer from the opposite: a nagging feeling that everyone else has their life together and you're the only one lagging behind. They're two sides of the same coin.
Whichever side you lean toward, there’s always room to be critical of that type of thinking.
If you usually judge yourself harshly, try to give yourself daily props for your accomplishments, big or small. If you tend to judge others harshly because they’re not where you’re at, try asking yourself why they might find themselves in that situation. Give them props. They might be working harder than you could even imagine.
Allow for the possibility that you're great, as are other people. Then it might be possible to love yourself. Don't measure that love against the yardstick of other people’s accomplishments.
These strategies might seem small. They are small. But if we normalize things like truth, respect, optimism, perspective, and self-love instead of normalizing Trump, we’ll be making the world a better place. With that out of the way, we can start to resist at a more macro level.
Katie Bell loves board games, hugs, and talking about intersectional feminism. She wrote and performed a one-woman show about depression called "You Are (Not) Dead" for Toronto Fringe in 2016, and is trying to get her other creative writing projects from the back burner to the...front burner? Most days you can find her writing for entrepreneurs who love what they do but hate writing. Words are important.