So I dunno about you, but every now and then I can't help but feel a little powerless and a little defeated by the world.
Whether it's seeing a bill be presented in a neighbouring country that will strip funding from Planned Parenthood should it come to fruition, or hearing reporters make victim blaming comments about a violent rape, or waiting for a bus in the wee hours of the morning and having to listen to a group of men make sexist and homophobic comments; some days I just feel powerless against the weight of suck that seems to exist in the world.
So my question for you is this: if you too are sometimes overwhelmed with your inability to do anything (or enough) to defend the causes you care most about, what do you do to get over it? How do you deal with those days where it seems you can do nothing or you feel defeated? Do you rant to a friend, write an angry letter, find some way to relax, or do something that you can make a difference in?
I ask because I feel that it's hard to stand for something and not have days where you find you've been unable to stand up to someone in a way that you wish you could have, or have been faced with a set back so daunting it seems insurmountable. And I think that finding constructive and effective ways of dealing with those feelings is important, though certainly an area I still struggle in.
So what do you do when it feels like you can't make a difference?
I talk to like-minded people and read/watch their work.
I join groups which do activist work and support minorities (in my case, feminist and queer groups).
I try to take small steps. Like maybe we can't do anything about all the domestic violence in the world. But if I can provide some small assistance or encouragement to a pregnant woman leaving an abusive partner, well, that is a good start.
-------------------- "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."
When I'm feeling most defeated, and most helpless, I remind myself why I started fighting in the first place. I remember that I never expected to be able to change the world, and that I've been fighting a hopeless fight from the beginning.
Instead, I find a place where people are marching in lockstep, where prejudice is spouted in a matter-of-fact tone. Not someplace dedicated to fighting me or my message, but somewhere the enemy has sway by virtue of being culturally dominant.
Then I stand out, make myself a target, and unapologetically argue my points, while making it absolutely clear what I am.
The overwhelming majority still closes their eyes, covers their ears, tries to shout me down, or uses force or the equivalent thereof to stop me from speaking. But a few people in such places will quietly approach, saying that they understand, that they are in the same situation, but were afraid to say anything. That it helps them to know that they aren't alone. That all the horrible things people say about them don't have to be true.
I hold no illusions that the world is going to meaningfully improve because of my actions. But I'm not in this to change the world. One good argument won't fix the horrible problems we've got, but standing up without shame can change the lives of the silent masses living in fear, thinking that they're alone.
I started fighting because someone else stood up without shame, and seeing that changed my life. I know how powerful it can be to see that when you really need it. Just one person saying that they'd needed to hear what I was saying makes all the setbacks and all the failures fade into the background.
Posts: 64 | From: United States | Registered: May 2010
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I try and remember the good things in my life, those who love me and who I love, that I have food and shelter and clean drinking water, that pleasure exists and that I have the capacity and the means to experience it, the rights of mine that are recognised by the law, that even if my rights aren't recognised by the law I still have them, that there's all this incredible art out there for me to discover, that there are people out there fighting to make a difference for the better, that there will be times when I have the chance to make things better.
I do things that make me feel happy. I talk to supportive people about how I'm feeling.
-------------------- Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see. Posts: 840 | From: UK | Registered: Dec 2008
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I think about the fact that the world is changed one person at a time. I continue reading lots of articles about politics and things in the news (like the Planned Parenthood thing and redefining rape), which helps me become better informed and my viewpoint is altered. I also have tried to become more vocal in terms of 1) speaking up when people say really offensive or even borderline offensive things, and 2) sharing really good articles with friends so they can learn things or at least become aware of them.
Posts: 30 | From: Northern Hemisphere | Registered: Feb 2011
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