On the 20th of January, over 65 million people (well more than half of those who voted in America’s election) grieved.
We lamented the elevation to the highest level of our Government, a man who is simply unqualified for and undeserving of it; a man who has already shown himself unable to respect the gravity of the moment and unwilling to act in the interest of the whole of the American people.
And so for us, Inauguration Day was indeed a funeral; a mourning over the country we might have had, the future we could have been building—the President we should have been welcoming.
And the question is, what do we do in the days following that might be redemptive, that might bring life? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Serve someone. Step out into your neighborhoods, alone or with other-like hearted people and perform acts of service today, especially for those who are often overlooked or excluded. These will be the same communities ignored by the coming Administration and we will need to make sure that no one is rendered invisible, that everyone is cared for. With a President-Elect whose life, career, and campaign have been marked by such greed and ego—compassion and kindness will now be acts of bold resistance.
2) Engage in financial activism. Money does indeed talk. It advocates. It protests. In fact, our financial resources can and should be a tangible form of activism. Do some research today and make a contribution to an organization you believe is doing great work fighting the kind of discrimination, bigotry, and injustice already evident in the coming Administration. Give generously to sustain and encourage those already pushing upstream.
3) Get your hands dirty. There are countless opportunities to come alongside people already in the trenches fighting for equality and diversity locally, state-wide, and across the country. Make a commitment today to come alongside them by joining a nonprofit, community organization, faith-based group, or grass-roots movement. Leverage the powerful resource of your presence and participate in work that moves you. Resist the apathy around you by gracing enough to move.
4) Reach across a divide. Exclusion has been one of the hallmarks of the President-Elect’s campaign, seeking to divide people along lines of color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, place of birth, and yes, political affiliation. Today, do something that intentionally builds a bridge to a community you may have little interaction with or knowledge of, or to an individual you may feel opposition to. It might mean picking up the phone or inviting someone for coffee or visiting an unfamiliar house of worship or attending a community gathering. Resist the wall-builder by breaking down walls.
5) Read. The Internet gives us limitless opportunities to learn and to grow in our understanding of others, yet we often use it primarily to exchange passive aggressive status updates and oversimplified memes. We have a President-Elect who has boasted that he does not read, and we can see the kind of person such intolerance to knowledge yields. Today, read something edifying or challenging; something that pushes you or educates you or tells you a story you didn’t know—and use it to spur you on. In this coming Administration, intelligence and knowledge are forms of resistance.
6) Pray/Reflect. If you’re a person of faith, spend time today away in prayer or meditation, and if you’re not, simply spend some time in quiet reflection or in nature. Avoid the bombast and volume of this day, and all the noise of social media that it will certainly bring. Find places of silence and solitude to recover your center. Find peace there, and allow that peace to strengthen and prepare you for the difficult work ahead.
7) Reassure your children. If you have kids over the age of 10 or so, they’ve likely heard too much during the campaign and they might be feeling a great deal of fear and worry today. Take some time to gather as a family and talk to your kids, not about the Inauguration or the President-Elect, but about the good things and good people they see in the world, and make some plans with them to do something as a family that affirms this goodness. Help your kids resist by nurturing their hope.
8) Cultivate gratitude. With the heavy deluge of bad news in recent weeks, with the relentless flood of reckless Tweets, disturbing Cabinet appointments, and the seemingly limitless capacity for cruelty we’ve been exposed to, it can be easy to lose sight of all that is good and beautiful and right in our lives and in this world. There will be plenty of time to lament all that is not wrong and to work in opposition to it, but today as a willing act of defiant resistance, perhaps look around and find reason to be grateful. Celebrate these things.
9) Be visible. All across the country, there are protests, rallies, and marches where disparate people are gathering to be a physical, tangible reminder that the majority of American voters did not consent to this President-Elect and do not share his vision for our nation. Go and stand shoulder to shoulder with people in your community and make a declaration of resistance to the divisions and hatred on display in this Administration.
10) Create. Spend time today doing something that gives you life: paint, play music, write, dance, cook. Use the gifts you have been given as a direct, creative response to this day. Remind yourself that even though there is real ugliness grabbing the spotlight and the headlines, that things of great beauty are being born too. Let your art be your defiant resistance.
Bonus 11) Rest. Grief is exhausting, and chances are if you’re still reading this you care deeply about what’s happening in this country—and you’re really tired. And regardless of the virtues of anything you’ve read so far, today your greatest act of resistance may be to take a nap. Unplug, logout, shutdown, and allow yourself to breathe slowly and to sleep. You will have time over the next four years to address the other things on this list that compel you. For now, rest well.
So yes, January 20th and the days that followed could easily be a season of grief, but it can also be a season where you and I refuse to give attention, time, or emotional bandwidth to a man who does not deserve it; a day where together we affirm the truth that America is already great, not because of him—but despite him.
We the people…