After writing this post about anxiety and depression and the political situation in 2017, and after getting walloped with a tsunami of trauma during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the fall of 2018, I've been working a lot on taking better care of myself around activism and political engagement and mental health. That work takes on multiple forms, for example:
- Working with a psychiatrist and therapist, getting the meds right, getting reality checks and reminders of things I can do.
- Translating feelings of dread into action whenever I can and being kind to myself when I can't. The dread is here, it can't be avoided, it can paralyze me or I can use it, being mean to myself won't help a damn thing.
- Identifying outlets for activism/action/money/effort that advance the causes I care about that are in reach for me, ones that I can sustainably and reasonably show up for and deliver.
- Learning from and amplifying the work of people who were doing the work long before I was here, especially on long-term, systemic problems that didn't just suddenly manifest at the end of 2016, especially on causes and elections that are local to me.
- Using what I know about media narratives, media literacy, political discourse, social media & healthy human interactions to rethink some habits I and people I know have around political discussions and look for better ones.
I don't want to turn the main CaptainAwkward.com site into an electoral politics discussion board [nobody...wants that] but the political situation in my country and what happens here does affect me, and it does affect a ton of things about interpersonal conversations and relationships. I get a lot of questions about how to navigate the current political situation, how to survive it, how to talk about it, how to stay sane and alive during it, and I'd like to put that material somewhere. So I am going to create some content about political engagement and activism and mental health here on Patreon. Sometimes it might come in diary or essay form, sometimes it might be answering a question from a reader, sometimes it might just be lessons or tips in the vein of the excellent One Thing You Can Do blog, sometimes it might be links, or interviews/profiles of activists I admire.
Some ground rules/expectations:
I will always use the "The Half-Assed Activist" and "Politics" tags prominently on posts like these so you can opt out if you want to.
I'm not politically neutral or "bipartisan" and I swing leffffffffffffffffffffffft. I think refugees and immigrants should be welcomed. I am pro-choice. I am pro-taxing personal and corporate wealth above a certain "you can still really enjoy being a rich person" threshold to pay for robust public services and infrastructure. The human rights of queer and transgender people are non-fucking negotiable. It is the task of white people to work to end racial injustice in our lifetimes. It's expensive to be human, so we should work on ways to pay for all of us to be safe and alive and healthy instead of looking for excuses that some of us don't count.
And after a few years as a hostage, my position on healthcare has "evolved" from "Yay for the ACA, it's better than nothing and I can buy meaningful health insurance now" to "Medicare-for-All and/or Single Payer are nice words, so, when are we nationalizing all of it?" I'm also pro-international cooperation on climate issues to save the planet, very glad you asked. This isn't comprehensive or nuanced but it's mine, a work in progress.
We don't have to be exactly congruent on all this, especially on the hows of getting it done, but I don't want anyone to be surprised by my political leanings, and I want to be clear that when I talk about "activism," these are the kinds of issues and causes I'm interested in.
I'm not planning on promoting specific candidates and I'll ask the same of readers. I may mention and share links to organizations I work or volunteer with with and what that experience is like, but I'm not in the business of telling anybody who to vote for.
I don't wanna debate. Learn more about issues or specific candidates? Yes. Fortunately, I have a working Google, an excellent education, good reading & analysis skills, and I'll be able to find out anything I want to know. Debate? Even people who mostly agree with me? NEWP. Hard no. One thing that prompted this post was that I'm already seeing arguments about the 2020 US presidential primary and the relative "winnability" and "likability" of each person on my social media feeds and as much as I am like YES, NEW PRESIDENT, YES, PLEASE, GOD, YES, I am also pre-done with the Think Piece Wars about "electability," etc. Politics is not a fandom and one of my self-care things is to opt out of those kinds of discussions. Debate is not the only way we test ideas and find out about things, and it's only January 2019, let's please not.
That should cover it, I welcome suggestions for topics and self-care strategies as we go forward.