Vote for real meaning in your lives
There isn't a way to write to you all today without acknowledging the looming US election. Many have voted early. Nearly everyone I know has a hangover from the last four years, some from the last eight, and others from the last twelve. Marginalized people have floated off the margins and into the center, and that's making folks used to not having to scoot over on the bleachers very uncomfortable. Well, guess what - thanks to the pandemic and many other reasons, we're all in the cheap seats now. We can either make our situation miserable by continuing to blame and point while denying our own responsibility and culpability in this mess, or set our win/lose mentality aside and make our cities, neighborhoods, and rural communities awesome no matter who gets elected at the top.
How do we make things awesome when things are so hopeless?
It seems difficult, but since it requires both a recognition of and then a change of habits, it's a touch harder than it might look.
Be genuinely polite and kind to people.
Nice - NOT Minnesota Nice (and you know you deserve that side-eye, Minnesotans) - goes a very long way. Be nice without judgment. Be nice to people that you think you're superior to. Maybe stop thinking you're superior to anyone because rats will totally eat your face in a gulag, too.
Stop asking people what they do for a living to get to know them.
I know that sounds weird, but think about why most people ask: they want to know how much respect to give you. We know consciously that a janitor deserves as much (or more) respect than a lawyer (and I have amazing lawyer friends.) Yet, because we compare ourselves - it's that evil chimp brain that thinks we dominate the secretary but not the business owner - we tend to be more dismissive and crappy to the person who happens to have all the keys to the building. Now, how's a little respect going to pan out when you're locked out of work, and it's freezing outside?
Yes, politics should matter who you mate and live with; that's legit a different situation.
For me, it's simple - I'm queer. People voting on whether or not I should have the same rights as straight people or questioning whether my vulva affects my decision-making ability at the poll is a big issue. That doesn't mean I agree with all government spending, and while I do like paved roads, I'm not sure I'm getting my money's worth on those farting cow studies.
So, except in cases where the recognition of you as a human being is being made an issue (and that should NEVER BE A THING.)
It's not all or nothing.
While I think farting cow studies are a waste of money, I have heard compelling arguments about cow farts' impact on air pollution in rural and industrial zones. It may be well worth skipping the dairy and grabbing a Boca burger, especially with the rain forest (our cow fart air filter) dwindling so fast.
Think hard about what means the most to you. It's ok if your priorities have shifted.
To me, libraries, education, and arts are huge. My dad was a teacher for 30 years, I have kids in school now, and I'm an artist. We wouldn't have that Golden Age of Television to get us through pandemic hell with good binge-watches without arts education. We wouldn't have video games. We wouldn't even have the silly memes that let us vent our void screams on Facebook and Instagram without arts.,
That isn't to say other causes aren't worthy - and here's what's awesome - every cause only needs a small set of passionately engaged people to move it forward. Outreach is to invite people with that passion for expressing it.
In truth, none of them need everyone. Pagans in Need food shelf is a big cause to my partner - and it is growing and helping with a small, passionate group.
This includes at the polls. If you want to see racial justice genuinely applied, look at the people running for judge positions. Dislike the sit/lie policy your city enacts to keep the homeless from getting any rest? Find out who the police commissioner is and who oversees that position.
So here's what I propose: pick one cause that matters to you. Make it a "walk down the street" cause. By this, I mean choose something that you care about - or that's been bugging you - in your local community. Find out who in your civic path has a connection to that issue. For example, are kids from the area high school dumping garbage on your lawn? Who can reach out to them to change that behavior? What can you do yourself to impact that behavior? (Yes, some will object to making a public garbage can available, but I'm very grassroots that way.)
Take back your city, your neighborhood, or just your front door - and in it, you will find that sense of meaning and connection that makes all this madness survivable.