I hesitate to say that this week has been one of the worst news weeks in recent history, because I’m afraid that the perpetrators would take that as a challenge to do more next week.
It’s hard, friends. It’s hard to sustain this level of momentum and outrage when you’re trying to catch balls at a batting cage with a teacup. I remind myself frequently that this is on purpose – tire the resistant out, and eventually they will capitulate.
By Monday, I knew I needed to figure out a way to fight, to be aware, but also engage in self-care. So I turned to a book I read over the summer after meeting its author at a three-day conference.
The book, “Broadcasting Happiness,” is written by Michelle Gielan. She resonates with me because she was once a journalist. I’ll be honest, though – I’m not the self-help book type. But this book, with its candor regarding her life as a journalist and her realization about what was making her unhappy about her job, has given me focus right now.
Before I explain what is helping me, I need to explain what Trump’s administration is doing right now. The best way, I think, is by asking you to watch this – The Color Changing Card Trick.
Yes, the Trump administration’s aim is to distract us so much with picayune things like crowd size, bronzer hue, tiny hands and gum eating that we don’t notice that everything is literally changing around us.
So clearly, we can’t just avoid the news. Avoiding it, for one, Gielan explained this summer, means we miss key information that can govern our decisions.
But more importantly, it’s unrealistic (especially in this scenario) to avoid bad news. It’s not going to get any better any time soon. And as much as I want to and ardently wish I had the magic ability to change Trump into some kind of learned force for good, I know that won’t happen. I mean, if it does, you all know I’ll totally work the magic, but let’s face it, we’re stuck with this rolling bag of dirty diapers heading straight for our picnic.
So how do we deal with needing to be vigilant, but not becoming overwhelmed?
Gielan explained that when she was a working journalist, she proposed a week where for every troubling story, they would supply a story that helped find a solution. It was during the time of the housing bubble bust and the recession, and it seemed like every story was bad news. So that week, if they wrote about people on the brink of foreclosure, the next story would be about helping a family navigate the various possible government aid solutions. Another story about the housing crisis was followed by a story about two brothers who had been somewhat estranged, but reached out when they both were on the brink of losing their homes. They reconciled, and pooled their money to save one home, and became roommates.
People began finding their solutions. And the ratings proved that people could handle bad news, if a solution followed.
Now, I don’t have a solution for all the unmitigated bullcorn the Trump administration is engaging in. But I do know how I’m handling this: I am putting one foot in front of the other. I find five things to do every day to fight like hell. It might be five phone calls. It might be five letters. It might be tutoring children and making sure that my neighborhood school has the things it needs. It might be making signs, driving someplace, and marching in solidarity. And as we near midterms, those five things will likely involve supporting progressive candidates and platforms.
But at least five things every day, I can do. Some days, I’ll be able to do more. Some days, I might not be able to do more because I have a full-time career and a family. But as important as this is to me, adding my voice and actions to the crowd of dissenters and resisters is vital for the refugees, immigrants, LGBTQ, Latino, Black and well, so many other groups that are in the crosshairs of this administration.
So there you go. I won’t exactly call it happiness, but it is how I’m keeping focused. Trump will continue to be infuriating and scary. But I refuse to let him be a boogeyman. He is a man who will be defeated – but only if we all pay less attention to the color changing card trick, and more attention to what they don’t want us to focus on.