“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”–Toni Morrison
I wrote this post for my American readers but it equally applies to Brazilians who have an important election coming up . . . and really all of you. Forgive the U.S. references if you are not from the U.S. but I also want to address my fellow American readers.
What we just experienced in the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings in the U.S. was enough to make any sentient/sensitive human being want to crawl into a hole for a very long time. That and the bad news any given day could flatten you.
In my coaching practice I have noticed the word “flat” has come up a number of times with a number of clients. Not all my clients have used the word but I also sense it myself. How could all this division, fear, and horrible-ness not affect us on a personal level? How much bad news to absorb? What to do in response? There is anger and what do you do with that anger?
When we feel overwhelmed we switch off our emotions to avoid being inundated. In the overwhelm there comes a numbness, a checking-out, a zoning-out as a kind of self-protection.
I notice more people complaining that they are watching too much Netflix at night. Escape. This is not true for everyone I talk to but I also feel it in the air–the moment has a powerful demotivating quality. I find myself fending off numbness when scrolling through my Facebook feed. I felt the flatness encroach. The flatness is that feeling of defeat. That feeling of why bother?
I also hear about people activating. Friends are volunteering who have never volunteered before. People are canvassing – going door to door – for local candidates who never canvassed before.
The best way I know for how to spring out of flatness is to connect with others and get into action taking a stand for something you believe in. Whether that’s registering to vote, volunteering, or doing your own good work for the world, whatever that may be.
Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher who powerfully yelled at Jeff Flake as he was standing in the elevator shows us how individuals matter. Those women should be remembered in this history books. When they yelled at Jeff Flake, “Look at me when I’m talking to you” they were demanding that he SEE us. They likely moved him to vote for an investigation of sexual assault charges against Kavanaugh.
Even if that investigation didn’t turn out to be as deep as it should have been the image of a sexual assault survivor screaming to a senator saying “Look at me, don’t look away!” was powerful. That image will be one I’ll remember for a long time.
Ana and Maria reminded us that individuals really can make a difference.
For my male readers. I have talked to a number of men about #metoo. These are men who I consider quirky, sensitive, and supportive of women. They too were more immediately worried about being falsely accused of sexual assault than of our culture normalizing the abuse and harassment of women. I invite you all, ladies and gentlemen, and especially the men, to watch this brilliant talk by Trevor Noah. He cops to secretly feeling worried about being accused for something he didn’t do and about why it’s important to stay focused on the larger story unfolding here.
Please don’t give up.
Be sure you are registered. Here are the deadlines for every state.
Get off social media and use your hands and your creativity. Send handwritten postcards to voters.
Find a local candidate you admire and help him or her. You will meet others who are activated and of like mind. Volunteering can be good for the soul.
Volunteer to make phone calls from home now or on the last weekend before the election when it’s all-important Get Out the Vote time.
Vote for people who express your values. Vote your conscience.
This is a critical moment.
Vote. Just vote. Thank you.
Yes. Simple. Short. To the Point. Yes.
Thank you for this post. I do not feel so much flat as strained. Since I am an environmentalist as well as a feminist, I get involved often and there is much to do. My quirky partner shares my beliefs and work, so that helps a lot.
I am taking solace by listening to this book, which might not sound uplifting but actually has an interesting eco-feminist message, Things That Helped: On Postpartum Depression by Jessica Friedmann, http://jessicafriedmann.com/reviews/. I hope to read from a poetic passage in her book at an upcoming open mic my friend Phoebe (who you met) hosts on Staten Island. I think that it is very lucky that I have found so many real human connections in NYC. Some people do not make friends at all in cities and wish for them, some people have no luck in the suburbs and rural areas. There are all different reasons, but the thing that binds them together is that people yearn for community.
I will try to help out with writing postcards, as I enjoy writing and the process of mailing cards. Email me if you’d like to be on my holiday card list, Sasha.
Sarah, Thank you for the book recommendation. Things that Helped sounds like a very worthy, comforting and provocative essay collection. I’ll check it out. Tthank you for doing the work you are doing — and I’d love to be on your holiday card list. That ritual feels like it belongs to another generation so it’s very nice that you are carrying it on! I’ll email you an address. xo
Thank you for this, Sasha. These are strange, difficult times for sure. Especially here in the USA. Here’s a piece I wrote for Rebelle Society that might help. http://www.rebellesociety.com/2018/10/17/paulaprober-connection/
Thanks for sharing your post Paula! I can certainly relate to the feelings of frustration. I’m doing my best to speak to everyone but at the same time there are lines that were crossed a long time ago when the current president made fun of a disabled reporter on TV then lied about ever doing it. Certainly challenging moments to come together about, as we can. I appreciate you commenting and sharing your work!
PS The Trevor Noah clip was great!
Good and thought provoking post Sasha, as usual. There is certainly truth to the fact that too many of us leave our voice unheard by not voting. The Trevor Noah video was also well done. Thanks.