It’s OK to Stop For a While.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

– Audre Lorde

It’s hotter’n hell outside, and it feels like everything around me has come to a screeching halt as a few hundred million of my fellow Americans and I try to wrap our heads around what the hell just happened in the U.S. Supreme Court. Any energy we had left in us for a fight is evaporating quickly in the summer heat; ambitions are dying along with our lawns. Everyone I talk to is at a loss. 

As a reminder, this year started out with me losing my job and falling apart, quite hysterically; then mellowed into a soul-crushing depression that lasted all spring. Just as I began to peek my head out of the abyss, the Supreme Court’s plan to overturn Roe v Wade was announced in May and my depression quickly turned into white-hot rage.

Two weeks ago, the other shoe dropped. We lost Roe, along with Miranda Rights and substantial EPA control over energy regulation. Oh, and prayer (the Christian kind, at least), is back in public schools. All this amidst the backdrop of an economy in the shitter and an ongoing barrage of mass shootings that happen so regularly, it’s impossible to keep track anymore.

But even as the world burns, I’m (finally) feeling ok. I’m less angry (mainly because it just takes so much effort to sustain), and my depression is slowing abating. Some days I feel downright optimistic! Enough to start working on my passion projects again – including organizing an action network in my state; relaunching my podcast with an updated format; and developing the next iteration of the Institute for Digital Civic Culture. 

I wish I had something profound to tell you about where we are as a nation. I wish I could point to a single, fool-proof remedy. But the reality is that this business of self-governance needs time, attention and resources applied for decades, without letup. It requires political effort, yes, but it isn’t enough to just vote and make a contribution to your favorite candidates. A society is more than just its political process, and that means we must be fully engaged – socially, politically and economically. There’s no shortcut to this. It requires painstaking network-building and strategic thinking.

The good news is that we already have so many resources at our disposal. Much of our challenge now is to connect the dots across sectors and around specific issues/ideas. We have more than we need to reclaim our political landscape from an ideologically driven minority that sees social justice and political liberalism as anathema. 

It’s just… we’re all. so. tired. 

So my radical proposal for July is this: take the whole goddamn month off from worrying. Give yourself some space to fall apart. Grieve the losses of our rights. Stop talking. Stop tweeting. Just sit with it all and give yourself as much undistracted time to just be, and think. Don’t worry that you’re not going to recover – you will. Don’t be afraid that stepping away from the madness will cause you to lose the plot – it won’t.

You are not a machine. Your body, mind and heart need time to process, reflect, reprioritize, and heal before you can take on anything else.

None of us seem to be doing anything particularly useful right now, anyway – and if this profound loss of civil liberties has told us anything it’s that slow and steady wins the race. So. Stop logging on to the internet everyday and feeding your brain with trauma and tragedy. Stop trying to keep up with every bit of nonsense that is being thrown at your face by people who are paid to get your attention.

Stepping away to reclaim your sanity is not defeat, nor is it denial. It’s self-care. 

When you come back, all these problems will still be there. I promise. But you’ll be in a better frame of mind to do the incredibly important work of figuring out how to proceed past this point of crushing defeat.

Because if there’s one thing I do know right now, it’s that we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing. 

We need results-based leadership and visionaries for a progressive future.  We need creative storytelling to help us see the way forward. We need new systems for organizing; new models for holding and distributing power. None of this will be easy and if we start soon, we may even begin to win back what we lost during our own lifetimes.

So. Reclaim your time. Commit to no longer wasting energy and money on “movements” that don’t move; change-agents that don’t change things; and political structures that are built to preserving their own power rather than making sure The People’s voices are heard.

The work is great, but y’all? So are we.

Hi! If you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve published here (or elsewhere on the web), please consider supporting my Qreative efforts on Patreon or Paypal.

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