Well, politics is unavoidable today. The rhetoric of hate appears to have won, and many Americans are going through various stages of shock and grief. Some are considering difficult questions of how to keep their families safe or protect their LGBTQ civil rights. Environmentalists are hugging their trees tighter than ever as they cry (sorry, but humor is important, right?). We must all move through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.
I have to say, my stage of shock was relatively short. Ever since W was re-elected, I’ve had about zero trust in the American electorate to do the right thing. There really is a lot of hate out there, and unfortunately it’s been unleashed this election season. It is important not to feel helpless, but to take steps to control what happens next.
5 Ideas for Fighting Hate
- We all lose when we have to choose between two candidates we don’t like. The answer? Instant runoff voting, which Maine just voted in. I often wonder how many anti-abortion environmentalists vote for Republicans (or bigots). You can also sign a petition to end the electoral college. At least she won the popular vote, right?
- Fight racism, white supremacy and hate of all kinds by supporting the important work of the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have a two-pronged approach. They help keep white supremacist organizations at bay while also teaching tolerance. The Shoah Foundation also provides educational materials for talking about hate, ethnic persecution and genocide.
- Follow Michael Moore for advice on how to plug into local and national activist organizations. He urges us to fight every negative policy change and unacceptable statement in the coming years. He saw this result coming and seems to have the most reliable perspectives on how to move forward.
- One of the biggest disappointments for me as an environmentalist was that Washington failed to pass its carbon tax initiative. This happened because those on the left abandoned it as not being left-leaning enough. It would have lowered sales tax for everyone and would have increased the earned-income tax credit for lowest-income workers. But it didn’t specifically re-invest revenue from the carbon tax into building green jobs or helping the minority communities hardest hit by climate change. Here’s what those opposing groups on the left, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, suggest instead. They’ll need lots of help trying to get the state legislature to pass it.
- Finally, for the big picture, check out the Transition Network. This international movement seeks to help communities stronger local ties and resources so that we can better organize and find resilience in the face of climate change and the geopolitical upheaval that goes with it. You can search for Transition communities and events near you. I see the Buy Nothing Project as part of this movement. I’ve also written about the new food forest that is connected with Transition Framingham, and the free class on mushroom-growing that I attended at Sustainable NE Seattle’s Hands-On Skills festival.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. It seems things had not become quite dystopic enough for our heroine in an “apocalyptic pantsuit” to prevail. Maybe the West Coast will secede from the US. Maybe Trump will be impeached. Maybe international trade will break down and we’ll no longer have cheap goods from China and fresh tomatoes from Mexico. I don’t even want to mention the worst possibilities.
But if we are to live in increasingly uncertain times, we must get to know and love our neighbors, no matter who they may be. We have a lot to learn from each other. That’s what Re-Think Green is about: cross-cultural wisdom for a truly sustainable future. Though I may not respect someone’s political views, I can respect their carpentry skills or knowledge about keeping chickens. I can talk to them and learn from them. And as we get to know each other across political, ethnic, and gendered lines, our prejudices will break down. As the Dalai Lama says, “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.“