It is a dark time. It seems that everything we treasure is under attack. Families and friendships are being ruptured by our toxic politics. Neither political party is innocent, but Donald Trump has aggravated our long-standing political pathologies. With human well-being and the well-being of our nonhuman kin being destroyed, we must do everything possible to derail the racist, militarist, environment-destroying locomotive. To remain a spectator is to passively endorse the emerging neo-fascist calamity.
Public awareness and outrage are growing, but our individual efforts often seem futile. Yet even when political affairs appear hopeless, persistent effort often pays off — sometimes when least expected and sometimes in surprising ways. What can individuals do in these dark times? Here are three simple suggestions.
First, we can join some of the many local and national efforts now underway to neutralize the thrust towards neo-fascism. We can work to elect people who are committed to peace, human rights and environmental sanity. And even if we have never been politically active, we can run for office ourselves.
Second, we can join others in taking nonviolent direct action. We can thereby disrupt reactionary political projects through militant noncooperation. Forceful push-back and defiance are absolutely necessary. Polite obedience will not work. By collective action, we put sand in the gears of the neo-fascist machine.
Third, we can counter poisonous rhetoric and vicious behavior by practicing the very opposite. America is still full of kind, decent people. But our country is experiencing a rising tide of spiteful malice evident in our leaders and often in ourselves. We need not increase the ample supply of political and interpersonal nastiness. Instead, we should counter the tide of spitefulness by relating to others with kindness, compassion, generosity and courtesy. Benevolence in the face of animosity heals both ourselves and others. It provides a conduct model worthy of emulation. In these dangerous times, we can all use more positive energy.
In summary: We must actively oppose the neo-fascist surge, nonviolently disrupt reactionary political projects, and bring kindness and compassion into our daily practices. Gandhi recognized the power of persistence:
First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.
We are now at No. 3.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.