The other day a high school classmate reached out to me on Facebook and asked if I had any advice for getting involved in local political organizing. He admitted that he had talked himself out of getting involved in any himself because he feared feeling disheartened if a particular action didn’t succeed.
I could relate. For much of my mid-20s and early 30s, I felt similarly, worried that if the small actions I took part in didn’t lead to overthrowing the entire oppressive system there was no point. I was hiding from my own brokenhearted burnout from activism and idealism during the Bush years and I wrongly believed that keeping activism at arms’ length would help. This is a position Rebecca Solnit describes as “naive cynicism” in her new book, Call Them by Their True Names. It was only after reading Solnit’s Hope in the Dark in the summer of 2016 that I started to let go of my naive cynicism, just before the very same book became the unofficial handbook of the resistance.
Then “the election” happened and I threw myself into activism and organizing at a pace I hadn’t maintained since my late teens and early twenties, repeating Solnit’s phrase “hope is action” to myself. Over the past two years, I have found particular hope in focusing on hyper local issues where the efforts and attention of me and my neighbors can make a real, tangible difference in the lives of people most affected by this administration’s policies. For me personally, that has meant focusing on supporting immigrant families and activists, and working to elect or reelect progressive, local politicians that will fight for a more expansive, inclusive New York city and state. Continue reading