It’s finally 2017, and with the New Year comes a lot of good things. Top among them may be the simple fact that it’s no longer 2016. Sometimes the whole thing seems like some surreal fever dream, a Twilight Zone-episode that went on way too long. Unfortunately, the fallout from the decisions made in 2016 will have lasting consequences for many of us. Of course, I’m talking about the Presidential election.
Even those of us who were counting down the seconds until 2016 was just an ugly memory were all too aware of another date looming in the future. The inauguration is rapidly approaching, and with it comes a curious sense of apathetic frustration. You’re not happy about this turn of events; you might even be terrified. But what can you do?
Don’t give in to that feeling. It’s tempting, and in the short term is the far easier choice. But this is the time to dig in your heels, draw a line in the sand, and take a stand for what you believe in. 2016 was a ruinous year in a lot of ways; 2017 is the year we fight back.
This doesn’t imply that you have to devote your entire life to protesting or make some grand and dramatic gesture (unless you have the resources and inclination, of course). There are simple ways to fight back against the oncoming administration in a positive and powerful way. And remember: in this political climate, to be yourself and proud of it is in itself a positive act of rebellion.
Donate: Donate your time, donate your energy, donate whatever you can. You can go with big organizations like Planned Parenthood or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), or focus on a more local level. Even if you can only spare a few dollars, your money will go a long way to helping these incredibly important charities keep running.
Get In Touch: I’m generally not a huge fan of phones, but I’ve started to become very comfortable with making regular phone calls to political representatives. There are plenty of resources out there that list local and national representatives, and what issues they’re currently concerned with. And if you’re particularly uncomfortable with talking on the phone, helpful people have written out scripts that tell you just what to say to get your message across.
Get Educated: That means not immediately sharing every link that crosses your Facebook or Twitter feed, no matter how tempting it may be. Do a little research: only share news and information from accredited sources, and be quick to slam down any false reports you see spreading among your friends. Social media has made it incredibly easy to share information; now it’s up to us to see that it’s accurate.
Get Political: If you’ve ever had an inclination to get involved in local politics now. You don’t need to run for office; just get informed about the local elections and what your politicians stand for. You may not be able to make any big changes on the national level — at least not yet — but you can certainly be a proponent of change in your town or city. Remember, the politicians are beholden to the people. Your voice and opinions matter.
Be Available: If you have family or friends who are especially vulnerable to the new administration, be sure to let them know you are there. You might think this goes without saying, but right now a kind word or vote of support could mean all the difference to someone in crisis. Check in on people, and remind them that they are cared for and loved. If someone tells you they’re not all right or that they need help, listen to them. Don’t dismiss their fears or brush them off; they know what they need, and it’s important you understand and respect that.
Talk: Don’t let the things that upset you about this administration get swept under the rug. Hold the politicians in power accountable for their actions, and demand answers to the difficult questions. On a personal and perhaps far more difficult level, take a stand in your daily life. If a loved one or family member is spouting bigotry, racism, or just plain inaccurate rhetoric, call them to task. You don’t have to yell or pitch a fit to get your point across. Create a dialogue if you can. But don’t back down, and don’t bow before fear; staying silent in the face of hateful speech makes you complicit in what’s being said.
Support Independent Media: Mainstream media’s election coverage was shaky at best, downright depressing at worst. Luckily there are news outlets committed to providing people with the information they need in this rapidly changing world. Take the time to find them and support them. Independent media that can’t be bought or intimidated is going to be increasingly important over the next four years, and many of these outlets are small and rely on your support and donations to continue fighting. We’ll need them now more than ever.
Don’t Give Up: If there’s one thing you can do in 2017, even after the inauguration comes to its bitter conclusion, it’s keep going. Live your life. Love the people that matter to you, stand tall, and be proud of who you are. Fight for the things that matter and protect those who are most vulnerable. Things will be hard, and times will be dark. The important thing is to keep going, stay together, and remember just what you’re fighting for. And remember that no matter how rocky the road ahead might become, “Illegitimi non carborundum:” Don’t let the bastards get you down.
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Lauren Saccone is a freelance writer, social media consultant, archery coach, and pop culture junkie. Her work has appeared on HelloGiggles, BUST, Parade, EnStars, and various other sites. You can find her on Tumbler here and on Twitter at @ElleSacc.