Friday, 11 November 2016

Friday Check-In: The Be A Nice Human edition

So yes, it's Friday and yes, I wrote this week. Not much, because Real Life conspired against me, but eh. I wrote. It counts.

There. Now let's talk about the shit-storm that is western politics this week.

After Brexit, I have to admit, I was holding out hope that America wouldn't also do a stupid thing and elect Trump, but I underestimated a lot of factors. How low voter turnout would be. How distrusted Clinton is. How deeply Trump was able to tap into certain disenfranchised and bigoted segments of the population. And yes, sorry, it is bigoted. He is bigoted. His words and actions leave no room for doubt. And, as with the post-Brexit rise in hate crimes here, I predict Americans are going to experience a similar huge spike, as all those racists, bigots, and fascists over there feel their private attitudes have now been validated by their president-elect. Economically and in terms of scientific research, Trump is equally terrifying. Again, parallels with Brexit.

As with Brexit, I'm scared for people. It's easy to say that it's only four years before the next election, how much damage can he do, he will be tempered, etc. But whilst the political fallout might be tempered, the psychological fallout that this right-wing surge we're seeing across America and Europe isn't going to die down in a set time period. People aren't that simple, and people vote and act with their emotions, and sometimes their emotions are dark and nasty,

So what do we do? I'm torn. I believe in being kind and compassionate. That quote up above is one I have on a pendant which I wear often, when my mood sinks or the world looks bleak or people are cruel, because I honestly do believe in empathy and kindness. But I do not believe we have to tolerate intolerance. I do not believe that vile behaviour should go unchallenged in the name of being kind. Sometimes we have to push back, because there are people who need pushing.

And you can do this in good, positive ways.

Give blood. Please give blood. In the UK, we need over 6000 blood donations a day, especially from black, Asian, and ethnic minorities, to treat patients. We need more young donors, too. For years I didn't think I was able to give blood, but it turns out I can, so if you're unsure, please check. It's important, it's always needed, and it costs you nothing but your time. And your blood. Your precious, delicious blood.

Support charities. If you're not certain that a charity is using its donations ethically and well, check GiveWell. There are countless causes that need and deserve our support, and anything you can give makes a difference. You can also support retailers that donate proceeds to charity. Olivia R Burton has some cool ideas here. Whatever it is you're passionate about, find a charity that feels equally passionate about it and get involved however you can.

Be a good ally. Speak up when you see hate, stand besides those at risk. Listen. Support. It's scary, but it matters. Whether that means reporting and blocking abusive Twitter users or lending your support to someone being verbally abused on the bus, please do what you can.

Stay motivated. It's easy to forget how angry you feel right now, in the wake of these political earthquakes, because life does go on. You still have to pay your bills, do your job, deal with family emergencies, whatever. But change starts from the ground up. Vote in local elections, and for the love of Cthulhu, vote for people whose ideologies and values match yours. Don't vote for fucking dead gorillas. Remember that in four or five years time, all the shit you're angry and scared about now will still matter.

Keep fighting. You don't have to stop talking about how upset you are that your side lost. You don't have to tolerate hatred. If someone tells you (as they probably will) that "this is democracy, get over it," tell them that one of the four key elements of democracy is protection of the human rights of all citizens. They probably won't listen or care if they're already the kind of people who hate immigrants and think the Gay Agenda is coming for their kids, but don't let yourself forget it. You matter and you are worth fighting for.

Don't be in a bubble. I'm not saying "expose yourself to danger," but let's face it - by and large we choose to associate with people who share our views, and thus it's easy to believe that X will never happen, because everyone you know is too smart/progressive/liberal to allow it. aware that not everyone is capable of being kind or empathetic, and that's why it's more important than ever that we are.

This is how we push back. Not by being weak, but by being kind. By working to change the world for the better in whatever way we can. Big acts, small acts, they count either way. Be a nice human. Fight for other nice humans.

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