Ok, so I’ve started to dip my toes into the pool of acceptance. I’m not saying there isn’t still grief- trust me, I’m still randomly breaking down in tears in public places. But I do feel like my rationality is starting to poke its head out of my heavy woolen blanket of despair.
I believe that Acceptance walks hand in hand with another A-word I’d like to talk about now.
Human rights and the health of our environment are threatened. That’s not a question that’s up for debate. Prejudice and bigotry have proven themselves to exist on a much greater scale here in the USA than many of us imagined. I, for one, am shocked and disgusted to hear about some of the downright evil that has presented itself throughout this presidential campaign. I think that Trump sent a very disturbing message, whether he meant to or not, that this bigoted way of thinking is okay. And that is unacceptable.
But what are we going to do about it? Besides calling up your female/ homosexual/ transexual/ black/ Latino/ Muslim/ anyone-that’s-not-a-white-male friends to express your unconditional love, and giving out lots of hugs, there are a lot of other things you can do to help. We can sit on Facebook all day long and feel our blood boil with every article that adds insult to injury, but that’s not going to do anyone any good. Neither is calling half the country ignorant/racist/idiots.
So here is what I am doing to try and make a difference.
1 | Donating
I vow to set aside at least 2% of my paycheck every month to donate to a few different environmental and humans rights focused organizations. The following are the organizations I have set up automatic monthly donations with (although please let me know if there are any other organizations you feel I should contribute to).
- Sierra Club | the grassroots environmental organization that helped pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, among countless other successes.
- Earth Justice | pursues legal cases to protect our natural lands, and fights for clean air and clean energy.
- Anti-Defamation League | works to fight Anti-Semitism and bigotry and protect civil rights.
I understand that handing out your well-earned money feels impersonal. When you can’t physically see where your money is going or what exactly it’s going to be used for, it can feel like you’re not making a difference. But your donations are important, and they do help. And for those of you with a lot of time commitments, it’s also the easiest way to make a difference.
2 | Getting Involved
That being said, I think there’s something really gratifying about taking some time out of your life to give back. I think volunteering and getting involved in local organizations helps connect us to the issues our world faces, and gives us a sense of purpose. It also connects us to good people with big hearts, and we could all use a little more of that kind of a connection.
I promise to make volunteer work a part of my regular life. I can combine my love of travel with volunteer work with organizations like EarthWatch, connect with other environmental activists through a local chapter of 350.org, and team up with my fellow Ethical Writers Coalition members to continue organizing events which encourage people to live more consciously.
The following are just a few ways of getting involved in the environmental movement:
EarthWatch | If you want to combine volunteering with travel, I strongly advise you to check out the organization EarthWatch. They connect volunteers with environmental scientists on multi-day expeditions around the globe. Play with koalas in the Land Down Under? Sign me up!
The Nature Conservancy | Search by state for volunteer opportunities which allow you to get out and enjoy nature while giving back. Just a few examples are beach clean-ups, park maintenance, and plantings.
350.org | This is one of the leading grassroots movements against climate change, with local chapters in over 188 countries. Their main focus is organizing mass demonstrations and running campaigns that target leaders and pressure governments to adopt policies which combat climate change.
3 | Investing in Clean Energy
Trump doesn’t like the idea of clean energy because he seems to think there isn’t any money in it. I disagree. In fact, I am of a strong conviction that there is an incomprehensible amount of money to be lost if we don’t invest in clean energy, as rising sea levels, droughts, floods, and storms wreak havoc on our coastal cities and destroy our infrastructure. Is $300 trillion worth of national oil and coal reserves really worth it if we have to spend billions of dollars every year cleaning up after hurricanes, floods, and forest fires?
Switching to solar energy is a smart move for families who want to stop paying hundreds of dollars every month to gas, oil, and coal corporations in order to power their homes. Denmark is making money with the energy they capture through their wind turbines, and Iceland is powered entirely by hydro-power and geothermal energy. Tesla stocks are up to nearly $200 per share. Clean & Green is the future, and I think any “businessman” who ignores these opportunities is making a bad move.
After spending this past year educating myself on personal finance and loosely following the stock market, I’ve decided that in 2017 I am going to dedicate a small portion of my income to stock investments. My money will not be going to Starbucks, Bloomingdales, or Shell, but it will be going to clean energy and sustainability-focused companies. Because I believe that clean energy (unlike bad coffee, wasteful consumerism, and dirty oil spills) is our future, and I’m willing to put my money on it.
4| Self Education
There’s still so much I don’t know and so much I yearn to be knowledgeable about. I would like to take a permaculture course (like this one in Costa Rica) to learn more about an organic, biological approach to growing food.
I want to learn how to can my own food and make my own cosmetics and put worms in my compost.
I want to learn more about how state and local government works so that I can be a well-informed citizen who helps elect socially and environmentally conscious politicians into office at the lower levels of government.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money or go back to school to continue educating yourself. Whatever issues speak to you and whichever topics light your fire- read books and articles, take workshops, talk to people who know what they’re talking about, build a network of people in your field of interest. Through the Ethical Writers Coalition I have not only made some amazing friends, but I continue learning from them every single day. I wouldn’t know about the dangers of palm oil extraction, or why bamboo viscose is not an eco-friendly fabric if it weren’t for some of the people I’ve met through this group.
5 | Yoga. Lots and lots of yoga.
And at the end of the day, we just need to breathe. I love the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If we use up all our energy worrying about doomsday, shit will never get done, and we will be miserable.
I really do believe that for every problem, there is a solution. As one of my best friends told her boyfriend after the election, “Don’t start worrying about spearing your own fish yet. Relax.” I think we can learn a little bit from this. For every one thing Trump (hypothetically) manages to fuck up, we will have to work together to fix it.
And one step in front of the other, we shall trudge along.