Today we do not discuss any specific actions, but rather we explore how each of us can sustain a sense of hope when every day we face headlines that scream horror. What is a caring person to do in the face of such heartbreak and challenge?
The litany of tragedies is unending and compounded by national leadership that seems utterly out of touch with human compassion. How do you utterly ignore Puerto Rico for a week, then lambast the Mayor of the capital for being a poor leader when she is wading in water up to her waist directing rescue efforts, while you are playing golf and tweeting about how great you are? But as outrageous as his actions are and as debilitating as the realities of what has happened in Puerto Rico and now Las Vegas are to our spirit, and as terrifying as it is to ponder what could happen in North Korea, it is humanly impossible to remain engaged every moment and it is absolutely crucial that we nurture ourselves so we can stay in the game. This was driven home to me Monday afternoon.
Roxanne and I had just spent a weekend in Gallup with some brilliant, young, idealistic and deeply committed mostly Native American activists at the Red Nation Native Liberation Conference. It was inspiring, no doubt, but so much of what we heard was also heartbreaking. The daily reality of Native American life in Gallup was beyond belief. It isn’t as if Roxanne and I were unaware of the history of colonization and oppression of Native Americans, but to spend a weekend steeped in it takes its toll. And even to write that sentence, that this entirely privileged white male had a tough time just hearing about centuries of oppression, only compounds that toll with a sense of guilt for even bemoaning it. Poor Paul.
So the weekend had been both inspiring and emotionally draining. Monday morning we woke up and went downstairs to the hotel lobby only to see CNN headlines screaming of Las Vegas. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Roxanne dabbing tears from her cheek. We plodded on, driving home from Gallup. I had a conference call with the others who will be on a panel with me at the Economics of Happiness Conference in ten days. I answered some emails. And then Roxanne came into the room to say, “Tom Petty just died.” I stopped and stared out the window, but after Roxanne left, I began to sob.
You have to know that while I like Tom Petty and have seen him perform several times, he wouldn’t make my top 50 of favorite musicians and unlike folks like Dylan, Bono, Joan Baez, and Neil Young, I don’t think of him as being a major activist. But I was sobbing nonetheless. And hard.
After a minute or so, I knew what I needed to write in the post for Tuesday: we need to take breaks, we need to take care of ourselves and each other. I recalled that in January I had written a post about the need for self-care in the age of Trump and I hunted it down and found in it an article on just that. I read it and offer below a quote and a link here. It is worth your review. In essence it says that:
“We have to stay outraged for the next four years and resist the powerful urge to adapt to the new normal. But that doesn’t mean you have to live the next four years in a constant state of anxiety and anger. It means, when you dothink about Trump and his minions, the appropriate feeling is outrage. But you can’t live like that all the time, and that means you have to spend a significant amount of time not thinking about Trump and all the work that has to be done. Do not get used to Trump — get away from him.”
And so, I am going to take the advice I am giving and that was offered in the link above. I am turning Trump off, I will not watch Democracy Now tonight, and I will pour a cocktail and watch Jeopardy with Roxanne. And then maybe go for a walk. It is a long haul my friends. We need to take care of ourselves and each other. And while it is vitally important that you take time off, it is also important you stay engaged, so click here to explore several events coming this week and next and pick out one to do with a friend….and maybe have dinner together before or after and talk about anything but politics, maybe plan a hike in the Sangres. The aspens look beautiful from here.
Paul & Roxanne