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In Tough Times,
Do the Right Thing

People of all races and backgrounds working together People of all races and backgrounds working together Source | (cc) Some rights reserved

The ugly head of bigotry button-resources

It seems we live in a time when the ugly head of racism and bigotry is rising up for all to see. It’s deeply disturbing that it’s the US Government — which fought against Nazi Germany — where this is happening.

The man who bragged he could “shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”… who says he’ll send 200,000 refugees back to Syria… who believes climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese… who promises to abolish the “Department of Environmental”… who promises to help the “forgotten man”, yet pledges tax cuts to the rich … has been elected President.

Like millions, I am deeply shocked and angered at how this has happened. Only about 25% of American voters actually voted for Trump, but it’s how it works when people don’t vote — he’s in. And the effects will be felt far beyond US borders.

When a bully enters the room…

It’s tempting to despair, to shut our doors to the nastiness and confusion. To throw up our arms, “why bother”?

But this is no time to give up. The last thing the world needs is our fear and inaction. Instead, each of us needs to take some personal responsibility for what is happening, and what our common future will be. Times may be dark — but blaming others, “fate”, or the government — is not the solution.

Rather than dwelling on the shortcomings of others, we need to get to work — get off our butts and do the right thing. Rather than watching the news in despair, let’s figure out how each of us can contribute to a better world, in substantial and meaningful ways.

Because if we don’t take responsibility, then we too may become the impoverished, “forgotten man”, when all the rhetoric has settled.

Which way forward? Source | (c) Reuse by permission only

Blaming others is never the solution

It is time for people of all backgrounds to raise it up a notch. It’s time to stop waiting for someone else to act. It’s time to figure out how you can make a positive difference.  And get started!

What can you do, big or small? What good works can you contribute to or create — for those in need, for better health, education, peace or  sustainability?  It’s time to get out there — to the garden, to the soup kitchen, the school, the library, the local nonprofit. Get out and make a positive difference, with both your actions and your words.

What went wrong? What to do?

In Canada, our challenge will be to ensure that this never happens here. The answers aren’t simple, but here are some good places to start.

Six steps to a healthier, happier world
  1. Bigotry: Work to build inclusiveness and diversity in your home, community, school and workplace. Sexism, racism, xenophobia, hatred… hurt us all.
  2. Equity: The ever-widening gap between rich and poor is not only inhumane, but deeply destabilizing and unsustainable. Each of us needs to help give a “hand up” to those who need it. But even more importantly make our own day-to-day choices more sensibly, not with short-sightedness and greed. Live frugally and reduce inequity.
  3. Good government: Help build an active democracy by getting involved more often than just voting every four years. Don’t just sign up for one party or another — consider all sides with an open mind. Ensure that your participation is always respectful of those who don’t understand or agree with your views. Be sure to consider each issue on its own merits, not just along party lines. The party system itself and the narrow-mindedness that comes with it, is a big part of the problem. And beware of any politician who blames our problems on someone else — it may feel great, but they’re probably lying!
  4. Education: Support the education system. Democracy depends on the ability of voters to think beyond the sound bite, and to have some understanding of science, ethics and critical thinking. Decent education must be available to even the poorest of citizens… if only because they too will vote.
  5. Economy: Contribute to a sustainable and diverse economy. An economy that is dominated by a few large corporations is bound to be unstable and corrupt. Get involved in local food, small business, community development, social enterprise.
  6. Your life: Do you focus on what really matters? How much time do you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, or trapped in an unsatisfying job? Are there more meaningful things you could be doing with your life? Is it time to step it up a notch?

While it may feel unbelievable what’s going on, we must not silence ourselves, cower in fear, or mince our words. To do so would only encourage greater abuse by bigoted individuals at all levels.

Only if we work together, will we build a brighter future. Please scroll down for some resources to help you get started!

Raise your voice for change (stickers at Octopus Books) Source | (c) Reuse by permission only

Action Resources

How to Find the Good in This Nasty Election Cycle — Four ways to turn election stress into courage and compassion. – Yes Magazine

What do we tell the children, after the Trump election? Tell them first, that we will protect them. – Huffington Post

To my daughter “First of all, we remember that we’re not alone. A hundred million people in America and a billion more around the world feel exactly the same way we do.”  — Aaron Sorkin

Trump won. Now we organize to block him, “every step of the way.” — Kate Aronoff, The Guardian

Combating racism, sexism, xenophobia, misogyny, hatred — Google
Reducing inequity, poverty, illiteracy — Google
Don’t kid yourself, this was all about race — The Globe & Mail

Religious, Ethnic and Political Persecution — Wikipedia
Freedom of Speech — Wikipedia
Political Freedom — Wikipedia

The need for science education and critical thinking — Google search
Science education in Canada — Google search
Ethics education in Canada — Google search

Community organizing — Wikipedia | More
Books on political action — Octopus Books

Progressive organizations in the United StatesIdealist.org

A hand up, not a hand outA hand up, not a hand out Source | (c) Reuse by permission only

Blaze a path forward

“Nobody made a greater mistake than they who did nothing, because they thought they could only do a little.”  Edmund Burke

“What you spend years building may be destroyed… build anyway.”  Bishop Muzorewa

“The question is not “Can you make a difference?” You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of a difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.” — Julia Butterfly Hill

“If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there are opportunities to change things, you may contribute to making a better world. That’s your choice.”  Noam Chomsky

“I cannot save the world alone. But I can do my part, maybe much bigger than I imagined. I’ll try to inspire others as well. Win or lose, to do nothing is to despair.”  Wilfred Bricker

“Democracy is not something you believe in, or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.” — Abbie Hoffman, U.S. activist

“In dark times we can collapse in on ourselves – isn’t that exactly what has been happening for a long time now? – or we can turn outwards as the world ruptures and find new ways to cross the crevices all around us.” — Suzanne Moore, the Guardian

“Neither chickens nor sheep” Source | (c) Reuse by permission only

Don’t chicken out

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me —
and there was no one left to speak for me.”
— Martin Niemoller

“Powerlessness and silence go together. We should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world’s reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It should be cherished and used.” — Margaret Atwood

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” — George Orwell

How to be a nonviolent Activist — Elizabeth May
How to save the world in your spare time (book) — Elizabeth May
Citizens’ Handbook — CitizensHandbook.org
Activists Handbook
Activism Resources


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US election coverage in Grist | The Guardian | Huffington Post / Canada | CBC | Globe and Mail | Yes Magazine | Democracy Now | Common Dreams | Google | Environmental coverage: Grist