Activism: Should you go broad or deep?

A lot of the taking care of yourself while fighting for America recommendations out there say to go deep on one or two issues.  Not because the other issues aren’t important, they are.  But because you’ll get burned out if you try to focus on too much stuff.  Better to pick an issue, join a specific-interest group, and do things for that issue.

We at grumpy rumblings have been recommending a different approach.  We’ve been telling people that if you have 15 min a week, to sign up for one of the weekly mailing lists going around (see our activism tab) and just do what it says on that list for that week (if you agree with the items, etc.)  We argue that doing this is a way to compartmentalize all the craziness and use your limited time and attention to make your voice heard.  Someone else has done all the research, made decisions about what to focus on most immediately, and needs you to provide the power of your voice and beliefs.  If you’ve got more time, you can subscribe to more lists or follow one of the twitter accounts that provides daily actions.

We don’t think that going deep is wrong either.  We think both are needed.  We need the people willing to go to meetings and do the initial research.  We need people willing to aggregate across those different groups and figure out what is most timely.  We need people to do the finger work to make calls across a wide variety of issues.  And we need those people to not burn out.

So do whichever works best for you and whichever fits with your life and personality best.

I can’t focus on just one issue– there are too many.  But I also get overwhelmed just looking at CNN.  So… I’m letting @Wandsci, @ActionsUSA, and others do that reading and aggregating and figuring out who to call for me.  And then I mostly do what I’m told.  (I’ve also been doing weekly proofreading for one of the groups in my state and I’ve been keeping and adding to a list of progressive groups in our county which I then give to groups so they can connect with each other, and I’ve been helping people figure how to do the activism they want to do.  So I guess you could say I’ve been going deep on networking.  Even though I’m a total introvert.).

DH is currently drilling down on a project to protect immigrants because that’s what the local democratic party has decided to focus on and DH was willing to figure out who to talk to to get the the information they need to set up their own program in conjunction with an immigrant group.  He’s also making weekly phone calls.

So no, I don’t think you have to go deep to avoid burnout unless that’s what you want to do.  You probably can’t dive deep into every issue, but you can dive deep into one or two, or you can be an intermittent voice for a broad array of issues.  Not burning out is important, but you don’t have to focus on only one thing to avoid it, you just can’t focus on everything.

How do you avoid burnout?  Do you prefer broad or deep (or a little of both)?  Do you think one is inherently better than the other, or does it depend on the person?

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Should we empathize with Trump voters?

In a word, no.

People who vote for Trump care about racism, and to a lesser extent, misogyny over *any other issue*.

There’s a movement among some liberal white folks (even our beloved wandsci) to empathize with these jerks.  They’re poor.  They’re seeing privileges stripped away.  They’re not used to being so close to the bottom.  They’re uneducated.  They’re scared and don’t know any better.  We should try to understand their point of view.  That’s the argument.

First, although the media narrative is an economic one, it’s not actually true.  White Trump voters are better off than the average American.  It is true that they’re generally not college educated.  But that’s on them.  They’re making plenty of money without the fancy degree that they could still get if they wanted.

Second, even if the media narrative were true, which it isn’t, that’s still no excuse to be racist.

Racism is deplorable.  As the ladies on the Here to make friends bachelor podcast note, plenty of people have bad things happen to them and don’t become assholes.  Your reaction to hardship or tragedy doesn’t have to be voting against your economic interests so that you can feel superior to someone with a different skin color.

There’s no point in trying to empathize with racists anymore than there’s a point in trying to empathize with dangerously misogynistic Chad on the Bachelor franchise.  Empathy will not change their behavior.  Shaming might.  More likely these hardcore racists are just lost to humanity and will either someday see the light or they will die bitter horrible people.  And that’s ok.  The importance of shaming is not to change their beliefs.  Shaming does two things.  First, it changes the behavior of the bulk of these horrible people because it forces them to watch what they say and how they act, so it is harder to hurt minorities.  Second, it shows that bulk of easily-led people that casual racism is not cool and tilts them for good over evil, which means they too are less likely to commit acts of overt racism.

Empathy has no place.  These people are racist.  Their behavior is deplorable.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  We should shame them.  This behavior has no place in mainstream society and if it can’t be removed entirely, it should be treated as the abomination that it is.  Let them dress up in their costumes and play their stupid games by themselves where we can laugh at them as losers who can’t get past 1865.  But when their behavior starts affecting normal people, and when it starts having a negative effect on people who are already discriminated against, that’s when any residual caring about their racist fee-fees should disappear.  They are bad people with bad beliefs and hopefully one day their children will escape and see how much better the world can be without their hate.

Growing up (a money post)

So here’s another post started in 2011.

I was struck by a comment by “brokeprofessionals” (they used to have a blog, but sold it many years back!) on an old get rich slowly post (remember when that blog was worth reading?  Man, we need to clear out our drafts from 2011.).  The commenter said, and I quote, “for most of us, growing up we never saw our parents or our parents [sic] friends struggling.”

He makes the argument that in general we were born after our parents were settled financially and we didn’t see them just starting out.

That, of course, does not mesh with my personal experience, nor probably with the experiences of the bulk of Americans.  My parents struggled financially when we were growing up.  That’s part of why my sister and I chose jobs that pay well and have saved a ton.  We don’t *want* to have to worry about the rent or be insanely frugal or have to worry about small over-charges or larger emergencies.  So much of our childhood was spent worrying about money.  That tends to leave a mark.

And actually, our parents were doing better before I was born and were doing much better before my sister was born.  For a while they got to live in the same city and were both employed.  After my sister was born things were less stable because of jobs in separate parts of the country, spells of unemployment, etc., etc., etc.  But hey, at least we still had the nice couches and the stereo system and the VW bug (man I loved that car) from before I was born.  Those lasted through high school.  My parents still have the couches.

My DH lived in a trailer in the woods when he was a little kid and his dad broke his back and had to retrain from being a carpenter to being an accountant while his mom was getting her RN.

Children are expensive.  Starting jobs don’t always lead to stable careers.  Families can interfere with flexibility.

And, of course, much of America is struggling and has been.  Inequality has been widening since Reagan, and was wider before Johnson.  Families struggle, especially those with children.  Not everybody has the blessing of being upper-middle class.  Most people don’t.

How about you?  Did your parents struggle financially when you were growing up?

ask the grumpies: Favorite sing-a-long?

Leah:

What is the best sing-along song ever?

I can tell you my current least favorite is this one song on Starfall about the days of the week.  Today is Friiiday.

Let’s go with the Wheels on the Bus.  They go round and round.

We live in interesting times

We live in interesting times.

I often think that this is must have been like what it felt for our parents growing up in the 60s.  Marches and riots and violence in the news all the time, but a sense that progress was finally being made.

Life was so much easier during the booming 90s.  Of course, that’s not really true.  Life was easier for us white folk, and we just didn’t know about what was going on elsewhere.  The Rodney King riots were a glimpse into what life was like for others, but the rest of us really stopped paying attention until recently.

One of the reasons Hamilton is doing so well is that it isn’t really about the 18th century.  It is about today.  This musical number really encapsulates it.

Change comes slowly and then it comes all at once.

Change comes with violence.  Or rather, that’s what we perceive.  Those of us who are sheltered and privileged.  The violence was always there.  On the plantations.  Against share-croppers.  Burning crosses on lawns.  Killing people in our cities.  Lynching, rape, murder, beatings.  Those of us who are outside don’t notice.  We believed things were accidents and tragedies or isolated incidents or provoked by criminals.  But that’s not what was going on.  That’s not what is going on.

Like now, change happens when violence is made visible.  Then violence escalates.  Violence escalates because the people in power, the ones doing the terror attacks against minorities, the ones subjugating their wives, girlfriends, and daughters, are afraid.  And they are afraid.  And violence is their only real weapon.

Which isn’t actually true.  Violence is not and has never been their only real weapon.

The Voting Rights Act was in response to their hold on local governments.  They own state and local governments again.  We MUST organize locally.  We must pay attention to downstream races.  We must run candidates even in red areas.

They’ve owned the media before, they own some of the media now.  Fox News isn’t the first news organization to have a racist misogynist agenda.  Not the first media organization to sway angry poor uneducated white men for their own causes.  It makes sense for uneducated white losers to want to keep women and minorities down– if they don’t have them to scapegoat and feel superior to, then they’ll be at the bottom of whatever metaphor you can think of.  It doesn’t make as much sense for the people who control these empires.  Why are there evil rich people?  Is it because they want more power than their horrible rich white associates?  But isn’t it better to be a Philanthropist than a Bond Villain?

Revolution means progress.  But revolutions are rarely easy.  Those in power fight back to maintain the status quo.

It’s best when revolutions occur with the fewest lives lost.  With the least blood spilt.

I think there’s a politician and bureaucrat who can help the revolution shed less blood while moving forward.  But she can only do it if she gets support downstream.  Senators.  Representatives.  State Government.  VOTEWRITE.  Be angry.  Protest.  Support protestors.  Become woke and stay it, even when the media moves on to the next story.  We want a government for all people, not just some of the people.

And after this movement dies down, we’ll still have a long way to go.  But let’s go as far as we can towards equality of opportunity, freedom, peace, and happiness as we can, so that maybe it won’t be as hard or dangerous next time around.  And so people can live closer to their best lives while we wait for the next revolution to bring them closer still.

#Imwithher

What is balance?: a metaphor

Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a see-saw, trying to keep either end from hitting the ground.

There’s a huge range of places to stand.  Not just one.  You don’t have to be at some mythical unstable sweetspot where the seats are perfectly even.

It’s the same way with balance in life.  There’s a large continuum of places to stand, ways to be.  There’s not just one optimal sweet-spot.  There’s a lot of room for doing things differently and for trying things out.

A village parenting story

The other weekend I was standing in a long long line for a bouncy slide with DC2.

There was a woman behind me.  After letting someone cut in line behind her, her daughters kept running in front and trying to get to the slide.  And she kept ineffectually calling her daughters’ names and making grabs for one of them.

When I got right at the front of the line, I stuck my arm out as one of the daughters made a break for it to run up the slide in front of DC2 who was waiting patiently until it the teenager in charge said it was safe to go up. The daughter ran into my arm instead of up the slide.

This is the kind of thing that parents around here do all the time, catch other people’s kids when they’re making a break for it, because the parents tend to be upper class and the streets are close by and dangerous so parents (right or wrong) tend to have more fear of their kid getting away than of other parents. (I don’t know if I mentioned that DH literally saved a kid’s life earlier this year.  A toddler had wandered from the playground into the parking lot to get something from his parent’s van and was about to get backed over by an SUV.  DH ran his bike in front of the SUV to stop it from backing up, which made the SUV driver upset until she realized what had almost happened.  DH returned the kid to a frantic parent who had been looking all over the playground for the kid.)

In any case, this horrible woman then chewed me out for touching her daughter and she had everything under control etc., but of course she didn’t.

Later that day I recounted this story to our friends out here, and they individually said, “were the daughters names Olivia and Isabella?”  And was the older one Isabella and the younger one Olivia and Olivia a year or two older than DC2?  Did the woman have brown hair?  And the answer is yes.  Apparently this woman has a reputation and it wasn’t me at all.  I imagine she thought my arm was some kind of comment on her parenting (which it wasn’t until she chewed me out about it!)

(After DC2 went down the slide I said no more fair activities because the horrible woman was going to the last thing DC2 hadn’t done, so I was like, let’s go to the library instead.  And so we did.  And I witnessed lots of village parenting and parents thanking other parents for helping out instead of chewing them out and it was nice.  And then we went to another event at DC2’s daycare and I was even more hands on with keeping other people’s preschoolers out of trouble since parents were busy volunteering and I ended up on kid duty somehow.  People seemed grateful.)

I think where we normally live there’s much less of an atmosphere of village parenting, but there’s usually hardly anyone at the park or playground because everyone has a play structure in their back-yard.  And disgruntled women like the one at the park are more likely to be carrying a concealed weapon.  I’m not sure I would have automatically prevented a kid from going up a slide back where we usually live, no matter how dangerous.  But the teenagers in charge of the event would also probably have been better at keeping things safe.

What’s it like where you live in terms of village parenting vs. minding your own business?  How do you feel about other people stopping your child when he or she is making a break for it?