I’m a writer who can’t write.
I’m not talking about the typical writer’s block that all writers go through. What I am saying is that this world continues to make less and less sense to me, making it uncomfortably difficult to write about.
If I wrote fiction, I don’t think this would be as much of a problem – but I don’t.
I write about the real world. I write about politics and religion. But, I have to say the real world doesn’t feel so “real” to me anymore.
Up is down and down is up. “Real” news is “fake news.” Facts have become subjective. People who claim to be Christian (followers of the teachings of a loving and compassionate Middle Eastern rabbi) are hateful, aggressive, racist, and anti-Semitic. The institutions formed around the teachings of a man who had no place to lay his head and invited all to the table are housed in unthinkably elaborate buildings and controlled by a hierarchy created by old white men with barrier upon barrier to tightly control who is in and who is out.
A world where progressive Christian writers make fun of the way people look and even sink to calling them names is not the world I, and so many others, have been working for. A world where we celebrate politicians who rob from the poor and give to the rich, yet we denigrate NFL players respectfully taking a knee to call attention to racial inequality is a world doomed to self-cannibalism. A world where women are so sexualized and objectified that many men act as if they have a right to impinge upon them physically is bad enough, but we live in a world where most men get away with it. A world where love that doesn’t fit some people’s puritan ideals is made illegal and used to push people to the margins of society is a dark reflection of some people’s inability to extend compassion past those who are just like them.
We are building a world devoid of mercy, empathy, hospitality, and love. We are building a world devoid of one of the very things that makes us most human.
I guess what I am saying is that we have a much bigger problem than most people’s actions seem to speak to. I’ve read explanation after explanation of what that problem is and how to fix it and frankly, they all fall flat.
It’s as if talking about it lets us feel like we are doing something and somehow appeases the parts of us that are absolutely appalled at what is going on. And so, far too few of us do anything other than talk about it.
Don’t get me wrong, talking about it is important. Very little ever changes without frank discussion and the exchanging of opinions and ideas. The problem comes when we allow that to be the end all be all. We are too busy to protest. We are too down to write letters. We are too overwhelmed to do much more than keep up with our daily lives.
And that is exactly what they are counting on.
Whether “they” are the folks making laws that rule our lives or the folks that shout us down and threaten us when we stand up for ourselves and others or the folks that hold all the power in our religious institutes, they are counting on us to be so gobsmacked by how messy, confusing, and immense the problems are that we will just express our anger/disappointment and ultimately do nothing more than talk about it.
They are counting on us – let’s disappoint them.
It seems to me that one of the most important thing we can do is carefully guard ourselves against resistance fatigue.
- Don’t try to take on all the issues at once. Pick one (or maybe two).
- Become informed about those issues and begin strategizing with others on how you might be able to make an impact and then do it.
- Play to your strengths. If you are an organizer, organize. If you are a writer, write.
- Don’t engage everyone who wants to engage with you. Be selective. Only put your energy into the places that have the most potential for success.
- Celebrate the successes.
- Take regular breaks from social media and the news.
- Be upset with the issues and the policies, not the people. Directing that negative emotion toward the people rather than the issues and the policies that cause them will eat you alive from the inside out.
- When needed, take some downtime. Do nothing about the issue. Do things that feed you. The answer to solving any of this does not rest on the shoulders of one person.
I’m going to try to take my own advice. The reality is that I am overwhelmed and tired. This is my commitment to get back on the horse and play to my strengths, to do my part, and resist. I hope you will too and I encourage you to share this with your friends and ask them to do the same.