2017: Here's What I'm Going to Do

2017: Here’s What I’m Going to Do

Here’s What I’m Going to Do:

I’ve been thinking a lot the past three weeks about what I can do as we go forward into 2017. Things look bleak, to be sure. Right now the incoming presidential administration has made it clear that it is here for it’s own personal advantage, and the people who are being appointed to the cabinet are political adversaries that want to dismantle decades of work by progressives like me. Furthermore, what has been unleashed in ‘civil’ society is an evil genie that is not going back into it’s bottle regardless of what our so-called ‘leaders’ say or do.

I spent the first two weeks after the election feeling overwhelmed, anxious and at a loss. Then I got to thinking. My friend Andrea Hodos posted something on her Facebook page yesterday that is supremely wise. She said:

“Because we don’t have one single reason, or one single concern on which to focus, to resist this hydra, I believe we need multiple strategies to resist whatever is coming down the line (or is already here). We don’t know, yet, which ones will work . . . but it’s unlikely there is one unified solution, one magic bullet. Everyone needs to find their method(s) and commit.”

So I’m going to share with you my personal commitments for the next 4 years:

1. I am committed to LISTENING to people now, more than ever. Especially the ones I disagree with. Listening to people isn’t validating what they have to say. It requires patience and self-control to listen to things you don’t like or that appear immediately hostile to ourselves. But it is THE key to changing minds, winning hearts, and making positive change. (NOTE: If you are a person who thinks listening to others and engaging in conversation with people you disagree with is some kind of treason to your cause, then we are not going to get along.)

2. I am committed to TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. That is, treating myself like that goose that laid the golden egg. If I get greedy with my own ability to produce, I’ll do serious damage and limit my ability to get anything done. Making sure I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually attuned and ready for action is a non-negotiable for me in the years to come.

3. I am committed to STANDING WITH AMERICAN MUSLIMS. These are my people, my community. The infighting and hierarchical BS that has plagued American Muslims in the past few years has been painful to watch, but I’m here to say that EVERY MUSLIM belongs under my Big Tent. Whatever disagreements we have, we’ll work them out in due time. Or not. But for now, if you self-identify as Muslim, I’ve got your back.

4. I am committed to cultivating MUSLIM-JEWISH ENGAGEMENT. This work has been a passion of mine for a while, but now more than ever it is needed. I am looking for Jews and Muslims who want to do the hard work of working together–and I will fiercely protect these relationships come what may.

5. I am committed to STAY ALERT AND SPEAK UP when I see things in public spaces that go against what I know to be right. If I see Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Black & Brown Americans, women, children, ANYONE being hurt or harassed, I will speak up no matter where I am or how ‘appropriate’ it might be. I’m also committed to keeping my presence of mind and capturing things on video so that there is evidence if it is needed.

6. I am committed to COMMUNITY OUTREACH. Despite having a full time job and multiple projects, plus a family – I have done voluntary community outreach for the past 15 years and I’m willing to increase those efforts as needed. If you need a Muslim to come and talk to you, if you want to tour a mosque, if you want a Muslim writer – hit me. If I truly can’t handle the load at the time, I’ll find someone else qualified for you.

7. I am committed to FINANCIALLY SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS that are doing work I can’t do – organizations who exist to defend the first amendment, lobby on behalf of the things I think are important and provide services to people that I know need them. I will donate monthly to organizations, making it a priority in my budget.

8. I am committed to PROMOTING PEOPLE DOING GOOD WORK. I don’t have a lot of assets but I do have a robust social network online and offline. I will look for ways to promote people who have are doing vital work, and actively promote them. This means making lists on social media of people that I need to pay better attention to, so that I can regularly promote them instead of doing it ad hoc.

9. I am committed to IRL LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY. That means putting down my laptop and phone and going to meet with my representatives, being available to testify at public hearings, and building relationships with people in power. Every one of us has a right to a relationship with our representatives. That’s HOW you get things done. Not with emails, not with petitions.

10. I am committed to creating awareness and promoting a CULTURE OF HEALTHY MEDIA CONSUMPTION. I can think of no more important work right now than ensuring we are all getting and sharing good information; and that we have the skills to think, speak and act critically based on what information we have.

11. I am committed to developing as a DIGITAL LEADER, and helping others find their voice and building momentum as a PEACEMAKER in ONLINE spaces through education, training, support and practice.

As we go forward, you’ll be hearing more from me on each of these areas. If you are interested in being part of the work I’m doing, please sign up here:¬†http://eepurl.com/cqBLXr

Now, tell me. What are YOU doing to do?