Nearly every day, someone asks me if I have hope, and shares that they feel hopeless. I wish I could pour people a serving of hope the way I might supply an imaginary neighbor with a cup of sugar. (Do people still do that somewhere? “Borrow” sugar?) To be honest, I feel low on hope myself at times, but I’ve finally learned the life lesson that feelings aren’t facts, and that they come and go. We can regulate our feelings. We can even push right through bad feelings in a life-or-death situation, the way an ordinary person sometimes finds the strength to lift a car off someone pinned underneath. (That really does happen.)
The U.S. is in a life-or-death situation right now. It hurts to say that, but ignoring the facts will lead to more pain in the long run. The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you’re feeling some type of way to do your part to lift the weight. Action doesn’t require hope; it leads to hope. What you do need is a sense of responsibility. This quote from Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider has been floating around the Internet recently, for good reason:
“To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up. Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it. Militancy no longer means guns at high noon, if it ever did. It means actively working for change, sometimes in the absence of any surety that change is coming.”
Finding your inspiration will help you find your work. I’m inspired by Auschwitz rebel Róża Robota, who urged her fellow resistance fighters to “Be strong and of good courage.” At that point she had no hope for her own life, but she still had hope for the future. When I have a moment of fear — and I don’t mean sitting-at-home-being-worried type of fear, which is bad enough, but a more physical fear at a street action — I repeat the words “Be strong and of good courage” to myself like a mantra. There is no right or wrong inspiration. Mine doesn’t have to be yours. Your motivation should come from what resonates with you personally. As for finding your work, if you need a first step, check out my weekly Indivisible Activate NYC action newsletter.
This week’s newsletter has good options for people outside of New York City. While certain actions are geared towards my NYC-based subscribers, others can be done anywhere in the country. Look it over. Subscribe if you like. In addition to what’s in the latest newsletter, you might consider a small donation to the #TrumpRat project that I blogged about last week. In that post, I explained the #TrumpRat protest-art concept, and shared the GoFundMe for getting the rat to D.C. at the end of this week. Well, the team decided to give #TrumpRat an outing in New York ahead of its journey, so I grabbed my protest signs by We Will Not Be Silent and joined #TrumpRat on the median of the West Side Highway last Friday. Check out my personal Instagram account for photos and videos describing the reaction of people passing by, both by car and on foot.
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During yesterday’s outing with #trumprat on the #westsidehighway my mask twin walked by! 👯♀️ Our #justice #facemasks are from blacklivesmatter.com (they have women’s sizes – much appreciated) … sign by @wewillnotbesilent … #trumprat by @bravinlee @johnpostlee … 📸 @aperture.delta … click #linkinbio to help send #trumprat to DC next week! If you can’t donate (and no donation is ever too small!) please share the link! #nojusticenopeace #protestsigns #protestart #trumpsliesarekillingus #trumpliesallthetime #bidenharris2020 #defeatfascism #refusefascism #impeachtrumpagain #removetrump #arresttrump #activism #wearamask #covid19 #staysafe #200000deadamericans
I let #TrumpRat’s “dad,” John Post Lee of BravinLee Programs, deal with the cops when they showed up.
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Of course, the cops came during the #trumprat appearance on the West Side Highway on Friday. Inflatables like this have been protected in the courts as an expression of free speech, as @johnpostlee @bravinlee explained in a rather long conversation with these bemused cops. While he did that, one cop stepped away to take his own pictures of the rat, while trying to keep a straight face. The #nypd always makes a nice backdrop for photo with one of @wewillnotbesilent ‘s signs so the first photo by @aperture.delta shows me doing that. The only legit complaint the cops could have about #trumprat is if was blocking vehicular or pedestrian traffic and sadly for them it wasn’t doing either. But cops don’t like to walk away without making some kind of impact so John finally agreed to move the rat to the parking lane in 26th St., on the corner of the West Side Highway, where it was even more popular with passersby. It’s really easy to deflate and inflate the rat so no big deal. Oh, and we ended up right outside an unmarked #doj building so I hope the people in there enjoyed their temporary new neighbor. Pix of the new location coming up. We have a great plan for #TrumpRat adventures in DC this weekend so hit the #linkinbio to donate to that. The project has gotten much bigger, we are going to collaborate on appearances with local activists at key locations and hope to have leave-behind material to encourage people to take next steps #swipe #acab #fuck12 #feelsafeyet #protestart #stateoftyranny #wewillnotbesilent #fuckfascism #fucktrump #defeattrump #reimpeachtrump #removetrump #arresttrump #defundthepolice #defundthenypd
Taking #TrumpRat out in Manhattan and getting honks of support from lots of drivers energized us immensely — I’m telling you, action works! — so the rat’s D.C. plans have gotten more ambitious: We’re planning a significant collaboration with other activist/artists. We’ve also started a website and we are rushing the design and production of small giveaways that will direct people who see us in D.C. to TrumpRat.com, which, by this Saturday, will have useful links to next steps. Honestly, the $3,000 GoFundMe goal (we’re halfway there) won’t come close to covering the time and money we’re investing in the project, so the fundraising is really about gas money and moral support. We love audience participation of any size. If you have a spare dollar, I’ll take a dollar! (I donated myself, of course.)
Speaking of expense, you can potentially have a laugh at mine. Earlier in this post, I mentioned that I had #TrumpRat videos on my Instagram account. Well, here’s the IG Live I did of #TrumpRat’s inflation. I have no idea what I said and I’m certainly not going to listen to it myself after the fact, so you can go ahead and rate it according to my 2010 shame-in-front-of-celebrities rating system. Damn! Back then, when I was embarrassed because I acted awkward around Tom Brokaw, I would never have predicted that I’d be standing on a highway shouting, “You have a small penis, sir!” at random middle-aged white dudes who drove by #TrumpRat and screamed at us. I’m pretty sure that moment isn’t on video but, hey, you tell me.
By the way, I meant no offense to people who have small penises and are on the right side of history! I shouldn’t have been sizeist about a body part like that. I sincerely meant to yell, “You are a Nazi, sir!” but it came out all wrong. That said, I was intrigued by the reactions of some of the women in the passenger’s seats. Did that one … did she wink at me? I’m going to tell myself she did.