Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Daily Action: Read Five Political Articles, and Then Read Something Not Political

Friends, I am getting bogged down trying to read absolutely everything that comes across my plate. My outrage is stretched in every direction, and I'm feeling burnt at the edges. I've come up with a plan: after reading five political articles, I'm going to try and read something not political. Something that lets my blood pressure return to normal, or lets me go back to being my non-ragey self for a moment. 

For instance:

 1. I found this great article on what we can do with what we have, and how to acknowledge our limitations: A Nervous Wreck's Disabled Guide to Stepping Up. 

2. I love travel guide Rick Steves. He's not afraid to express his opinion, or to fund raise for organizations, or work to share different cultures with his viewers. He's currently letting people stream his Iran episode for free (link in his post here - I encourage you to read the whole post and watch the episode).

4. Tech leaders in Chicago sounded off on the immigration ban, and they are not mincing words. I've written to the leaders of my company to ask that they make a strong stand against the ban as well

5. Bills on gun silencers are making their way through state legislatures. In Illinois, we overwhelmed our reps with calls and got the hearing on legalizing silencers cancelled. I'm sure the fight isn't over, but I recommend checking the upcoming bills in your state legislatures and calling your local reps if a bill appears (as well as filling out witness slips, if your state allows)

For my not political article, I stumbled on a Buzzfeed list about learning French (which I'm trying to do in my free time), and the listicle made me laugh out loud. I needed that. 

Finally, today is an important day is the legislative process. If you've got five minutes and your Senators numbers handy, Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions' confirmations are up for votes this morning. Neither is an acceptable person for the roles they have been nominated for, and you may be burnt out from calling, but if you have four more calls in you, please call on this. If their voicemail boxes are full, or no one picks up, please try Twitter or emails. Get your voice out there in whatever way possible.

Make your calls, read up, be informed, and stay safe.



  1. I suspect you've already read this, but maybe others haven't.

    From Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:

    "I don't like to talk about politics on Facebook-- political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends-- but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.
    What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night's ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries-- is creating what is known as a "shock event."
    Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.
    When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event.
    There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.
    Last night's Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.
    Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.
    My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one's interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won't like.
    I don't know what Bannon is up to-- although I have some guesses-- but because I know Bannon's ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle-- and my friends range pretty widely-- who will benefit from whatever it is.
    If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.
    But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.
    A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.
    If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln's strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.
    Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
    Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it."

    1. PS, that was sent to me by a friend.

  2. I want to offer a single suggestion for both political and non-political reading and action to take all rolled into one...
    Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail...which includes this paragraph
    "Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
    The "action"...There is a free course on line (which I have yet to take) that asks you to get together in small groups and talk about the letter It's called Readings that Matter http://plusacumen.org/courses/readings-matter-martin-luther-kings-letter-birmingham-jail/ just a suggestion