In a way, I’ve felt besieged for a few years now, not in the intense ways others in major cities have. But still, in the way that one who pays attention can’t help but notice creeping crawling unease, I’ve felt besieged.
I’ve joked with others who grew up fundamentalist about the opening of Revelation’s seals, but I know that November 8 wasn’t the day the skies opened and Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death rode out to do their special work.
- “[No. 45] intends to pay for the coming US-Mexico wall with a 20 percent tax on all imports coming from Mexico.” (NY Post)
- “The White House intends to temporarily shut down travel from a wide swath of countries to the United States and implement dramatic restrictions on immigration and refugee admission,” including suspending the visa waiver system, expanding biometric records for non-citizens, and halving the number of refugees the US will receive. (Huffington Post)
- “Agencies shall… ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.” (January 25 Executive Order on “public safety”)
- “[No. 45’s] administration mandating EPA scientific studies, data undergo review by political staff before public release,” contra the agency’s internal scientific integrity policy (AP)
- “The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately,” and agency staff were banned from publishing new web content or communicating with the public on social media or blogs (ProPublica, Huffington Post)
All that’s just Week 1.
It’s a lot, and it’s only just started.
If you’ve been paying attention for a while, and are feeling fatigued? That’s reasonable. If you’ve just started paying attention, and are feeling a little overwhelm? Also reasonable.
As I said this week during my conversation with the good folks of Pub Theology, it’s important to set boundaries around social engagement: we can’t go to all the protests and still have a life, and there are costs to being hyper-alert and always responsive.
It’s ok to rest. No, it’s good to rest.
My strategy is this:
- Pick one issue, not all the issues.
- Pick one peer group, not all the peer groups.
- Pick one practical action to do with the peer group, not all the actions.
- Do the action. Evaluate the action.
- Eat salad and soup. Shower.
- Take regular breaks from actions and being hyper-informed.
- Do not neglect art and beauty.
A week ago I was wondering whether I needed to lay down my daily writing. This week, I’m sure I shouldn’t. For now, this is my one practical action. It forces me to slow down, to make something pretty or process something hard, and to reach out to others who I learn from or share with.
It’s a small quiet “No” that I can say through action every day, whether I join other social collective work or fall back from the front to recover.
This weekend, I’m switching off the horror. I know it’ll be there when I return on Monday. I’m going to write and transcribe and rest.