I had a friend (and respected mentor to MBA students in a large southern state) reach out to me and ask "I'm seeing students openly sharing about how they are hurting (from generally upset about what this says about America to the struggle that they have classmates who supported Trump, to some speaking up as rape survivors) and I really want to be able to have the tools to help.
Any thoughts/resources you would recommend would be great."
I decided to make my response public:
I feel heartbroken too. I'm only just starting to get off the mat.
Fall madly in love with democracy and this beautiful experiment we call America. Read the Social Contract, and everything written by Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry's speech "Give me Liberty or Give Me Death". We need goals and we need models and we need deeply hopeful leadership... luckily these enlightened men wrote down the inspiration that got them through wars and reconstruction and the challenges of remaking government. If this doesn't inspire you... find your own! We need light. We need hope. We need vision. Get inspired with a positive vision for the country.
I'd say that the constructive actions left to us who disagree with Trump is the Fourth Estate, and Assembly. So I'd tell young people to study up on the Chicago 7, and to learn everything they can learn about Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. Protests are only successful when they have goals and united messages. So people need to attend the discussion at their local town halls and sometimes they will need to raise questions that only they are seeing.
- Be the journalists of this journey.
Be the voices unheard in the votes. Learn to use the pen more mightily than the sword. Start a blog, write for your local paper, or get your friends together and start a youtube campaign from your perspective.
- Talk about feminism as the best possible ism for everyone, including men.
It's the most important issue in humanity, it's the only tool consistently proven to improve quality of life and economy in a country and it's the one we can do the most about very quickly.
- Learn about Non-Violent Communication as a fundamental tool first and foremost.
The one thing we learned this election is that when we stop listening to others we mistrust them and we create a divide. When our language is only meant for "winning" - nobody wins. We are not suffering a government breakdown right now, we're suffering a communication breakdown.
- Watch for authoritarian telltales.
I'd tell people that we have to hold our leadership accountable lest they believe we are not capable of strength and they must be our authoritarian patriarchs. As caution against complacency or apathy, I'd tell people to study Silvio Berlusconi, The Khmer Rouge, and yes... Germany in the 1930s. For one good book about what to watch for I'd send them to Ordinary Men.
- Be Political.
For anyone of a younger age, tell them it's time to find or begin their own Dumbledore's Army however that looks, to learn the tools of our political machine, to meet consistently, and to be prepared to use your magic.
- Don't immediately escape.
Just like Merry told Pippin in Lord of the Rings... "there won't be a shire." If things go bad here, they will go bad everywhere. If you've got a voice, you have power, so don't run away. The world needs you. For any young white men especially, it's our duty to step up and prove that men like us can be decent and can vote for their hopes instead of from their fears... for a forward-looking future instead of an embrace of the past. It's our turn to clean up the mess our fathers and grandfathers have made by getting comfortable and isolated. It's our turn to speak up to men in power about their unconscious racism and sexism because only we can. The tempting escape into video games or sports fanaticism or individual success because we feel like we can control that world... is what will hand over our power to a system that may come for us last, but will certainly come for us.
- Get uncomfortable.
Tell everyone you know that comfort is the shadow of freedom. Comfort is not safety - it is entropy. It's good to get uncomfortable. It's okay to question people, and beliefs, and systems - even your religion. Everything can be remade. Get intentional with everything you do, think, feel and say. Find your way to some kind of inner peace and purpose - for me that was Marcus Aurelius and Victor Frankl.
- Don't stand for this. Some of us "will not be okay."
Don't go back to sleep or slide into believing "we'll all be okay" - this is not that time. This is the time to say, "I won't stand for this." This is not simply a politician with different beliefs than you... this is a mad king with authoritarian tendencies and carte blanche inside the most powerful economy and military and culture ever. This is not the normal political loss... this is catastrophe on a global scale. No, some of us will not "be okay" if we just sit on our pain and believe "we'll all be okay." If you're an intellectual, a person of color, LGBTQ, or a woman... some real fear is reasonable. Don't wallow in the fear... but don't swallow it and hope it goes away. Look at it and see what you learn. Let it inform you. Decide what
This moment is not a public whipping meant to inspire fear, this is our generation's clarion call to anyone with the courage to stand up for freedom, love and human decency.
This is what I would call our Millennial Moment.
I, for one, will not go gentle into that good night.
I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.