Today is one that progressive folks and others have stared at in disbelief for months. Today Donald Trump has evolved in title from President-Elect to President of the United States. He is now the Commander-in-Chief and "the leader of the free world." I am still in shock. There are a couple things I hope to keep front-and-center as I enter this new era.
Today will be hard: the pageantry, the oath of office, the speeches, the parties, the dancing, etc.
Today, tomorrow and Sunday will provide reassurance for many with protests across the country like the one in Washington D.C and the "Women's March on St. Louis." I will be proud to see and partake in this ongoing struggle.
But what worries me is next week, next month, next year and the year after that. Who will show up to protest next weekend? What about in June? What worries me are complacence and cynicism. Will a point come when we will feel too busy or become too jaded and therefore acquiesce to this new normal?
Steps and thoughts I will lean on as I enter this era:
From restauranteur and St. Louis native Danny Meyer, "Wherever your center lies, know it, name it, stick to it, and believe in it. Everyone who works with you will know what matters to you and will respect and appreciate your unwavering values. Your inner beliefs about business will guide you through the tough times. Its good to be open to fresh approaches to solving problems, But, when you cede your core values to someone else, its time to quit." Meyer calls his managerial style "constant, gentle pressure." As I think about the struggle that lays ahead for many of us, we cannot fight at 110% all the time for then we would surely tire and grow cynical. But that doesn't mean we will cede our values or back away. We will apply constant, gentle pressure. We show up regularly.
Following that, I will borrow from civil rights activist and Congressman, John Lewis, "'Pace yourself, pace yourself.' I would tell my wife and say, 'Every fight is not your fight. Pace yourself.' And I would say it to the young people and others sometime, 'Don't get in a hurry. Our struggle is not a struggle that lasts for one day, one week, one month or one year or one lifetime. It is an ongoing struggle.'" (On Being)
When aiming to keep vigilance and resistance alive, focus on something small. While we may feel catastrophe is looming on a grand scale, a smaller stage, preferably even a local one, is more addressable. By making small improvements on issues, we will move the needle. We need to aspire for great change and to do better but it will happen one step at a time. Do not take up every cause that comes your way. Find one or two and be dedicated.
Remember the people you disagree with are humans too. Many of the issues and beliefs of today's political climate are highly divisive. But they were as well during the Civil Rights era, World War II, our battle for independence and at many other times. We make those we are opposed to less than human. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" Stephen Covey
And finally, I will draw upon the Maria Popova when it comes to battling cynicism, "Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively. Fight it in yourself, for this ungainly beast lays dormant in each of us, and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modeling its opposite. Cynicism often masquerades as nobler faculties and dispositions, but is categorically inferior... it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, that pillar of reason and necessary counterpart to hope, it is inherently uncreative, unconstructive, and spiritually corrosive. Life, like the universe itself, tolerates no stasis — in the absence of growth, decay usurps the order. Like all forms of destruction, cynicism is infinitely easier and lazier than construction. There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance."
As always but today more than most, Go Forth Boldly