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To Exhausted Activists and Young Voters: Don’t You Dare Stop Now

I imagine you’re exhausted right now. 

It’s easy to wake up on a morning like this (if you’ve slept at all), and to feel as though your efforts over the past two years haven’t made a difference, as if all your sacrifice hasn’t been worth it, as if your voice hasn’t counted.

I need you to hear something clearly:

Your efforts have made a difference.
Your sacrifice has been worth it.
Your voice has counted.

Maybe things haven’t gone exactly as you’d hoped in every political race—especially really close to home, where you’ve expended so much energy and invested so much time and placed so much hope—but the quantifiable numbers aren’t where the only victories are today. Other are less measurable but as enduring, as catalytic.

They are battles that have been won far beyond the declared winners, and if you stop and inventory them, you’ll realize that there is celebration to be found everywhere today:

in the closeness of races that would have been lopsided defeats, if not for your presence and your participation—and the greater national movement this points to.
in the progress in places that once seemed foregone lost causes for candidates of color, for female and LGBTQ candidates; the slow but still unmistakable evolution of humanity.
in the expansive tribe of affinity you have found as you have done this work; in the lifelong friendships you’re forged and the community that has been birthed along the way.
in the personal gifts you’ve unearthed and the skills you’ve mined and the calling you’ve embraced, as you’ve stepped from places of comfort and privilege—and into the tumult of the fight for your deepest convictions.

There is even victory to be found in how fully disheartened you might feel right now, in your depletion and sadness, in the heavy hopelessness—in your overwhelming “f*ck it all” feelings.

That isn’t apathy, no just the opposite.

It means that you give enough of a damn; that you are fully grieving the America that still is, because you know the America that could be: the America you can see in your dreams and in flashes and in the eyes of your children.

And that is the point: You need to stay and build that America.
That America will be glorious.
That America will be a brilliant beacon for the world.
That America will be worth every painful moment it will take to reach.
But that America isn’t going to come quickly.

This was never about a single day, about one precise moment, about merely these particular races. It has taken us two hundred and forty plus years to accrue this toxic hatred, to become this infected with bigotry, to grow so corporately morally ill, that we find ourselves where we are. Bringing healing and health are going to be a similarly long-game endeavor.

We were never going to get well in two short years, and we older folks should have done better at preparing you for that reality. Many of us have been protesting and marching and speaking out and canvassing and voting for decades—and we’ve all logged lots of mornings of mourning, like this one. It will feel better than it does right now. You will not feel as tired as you do today. You will be burdened with compassion once more. You will find your damns to give again.

I don’t blame you for wanting to give up, but I’m hoping you won’t.
I hope you’ll get some rest and get some sleep and care for yourself.

I hope you’ll pause and breathe, and that you’ll invest some time and attention into all the people and the relationships and personal pursuits that may have been the collateral damage of your recent activism.
And I hope you’ll soon look with fresh eyes, and see the unmistakable fruit of your work, and that you’ll begin again.

For the past two years, the world has desperately needed good people who would be willing to be loud.

You are the good people, and you have been loud.

Not a bit of this has been wasted. 

We we still need you good and loud people today, and we’re going to need you for the work ahead.

Don’t you dare stop now.


Order John’s forthcoming book ‘HOPE AND OTHER SUPERPOWERS” here!


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