I'm told that George Lakoff (UC Prof of Linguistics and Cognitive Science) spoke earlier this week on how words matter and how 98% of our thoughts are unconscious. He suggested the following for anyone seeking to make something better from the current moment (with some comments from me in parentheses). There are many communities embodying such ideas; the ones I'm most involved with are The Porch and Movies & Meaning (links below).
1. Don't use the POTUS' name.
(He's a human being, not a monster. The fact that his surname sounds like a comic book villain means that every time we reduce him to a one syllable ogre, we grant him more demonic power.)
2. This is a regime, and he's not acting alone.
3. Do not argue with those who support him; it doesn't work.
(But if you can, find folk you know who support him, and ask them two questions: "What is it like to be you?", and "What was it about your life, needs, or hopes, that led you to vote for him?" Let curiosity rather than judgement be your guide. Don't try to persuade. Just listen. It has the potential to build the kind of trust that changes minds.)
4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state.
5. Keep your message positive; the administration wants the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
(Consider just what kind of community, nation, and world you want to live in. Talk about the dream of what could be, not just the fear of what is.)
6. Minimize helpless/hopeless/apocalyptic talk.
(Remember the words attributed to Bonhoeffer's community, at a time when they were faced with literal, imminent death: "If I knew the world would tomorrow go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.")
7. Support artists and the arts.
(This is not a minor issue. Beauty will save humanity. Please join us at The Porch and the Movies & Meaning festival, or in any community you find that is dedicated to the true purpose of art: helping us live better.)
8. Be careful not to spread fake news; check it.
(To which I'd add, don't just be careful not to spread fake news. Tell the bigger, more truthful, more hopeful story: that there is so much potential for good in this moment when public vulnerability is everywhere, folk are asking for help, and each of us is simply being faced with the question: What will you do with you with your power?)
9. Take care of yourselves.
(We have an idea about this at The Porch - weekly circles, 90 minutes long, up to eight people, potluck food, or even just a cup of coffee. Ask four questions:
*What's most alive in me?
*How could my life be better?
*What opportunities have I had in the past week to embody my purpose to serve the common good?
*How can we help each other?)
10. And #Resist!
(I know there are arguments about whether to use the word "oppose" or "resist", and I see the value of each. As long as we are resisting ideas and policies rather than dehumanizing others, I'm good with #Resist for now.)