Okay, look. There is definitely some seriously destabilizing, nervous energy hovering around right now. And it’s totally normal to be at a loss in terms of what to do about it—because this is not normal. You, dear reader, probably already know what I’m talking about. If you do, your head might be spinning as you might be flitting around anxiously like you just gave up drinking and are at a show that’s in a bar, wondering, “What the fuck do I do with my hands?”
It’s difficult to describe, but I feel the German language has described it best in this single word: “Existenzangst.”
There are two major crises in effect right now that have mainstream media’s undivided attention, and rightfully so: the conflict in Iran following the U.S. air strike that murdered military commander Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq, and the ongoing hellish brushfires in Australia.
In 2002, Republican political strategist Frank Luntz wrote a memorandum urging members of the party to use the term “climate change” instead of “global warming” because it was “less scary.” Fuck that. This is scary as hell. And we are all affected.
Do not get it twisted: the continuing hellscape of the brushfires is a direct result of global warming and is part of what scientists have been predicting and warning us about for years. We’d hate for this to be a “I Told You So” moment, so let’s not turn it into that. We all live on this planet; we all need it to survive. Instead, let this bring us to a much needed call to action.
You ever hear that saying, “If you don’t hear the whisper, you’ll be hit with a two-by-four”? Well, consider this a really loud fucking whisper. We should all hear it. It echoes with over a billion animals’ deaths and the brinks of war barreling us to Trump’s re-election.
The brushfires in Australia along with the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, potentially leading us to yet another Middle Eastern conflict and could possibly tee up Donald Trump for re-election quite easily, leaves many sitting in a debilitating state of helplessness brushed with thick strokes of anxiety and panic. The type of anxiety that throws you in the vacuums of Instagram and Facebook, loading your brain with false relief through momentary bursts of dopamine as hours pass by on the couch. Others turn cold and apathetic. Others remain in denial about the dire effects and reality of climate change (er, sorry, global warming), as well as the reality of America’s role in foreign countries throughout its history.
Regardless of where you land on your Feelings Wheel (check me for bad, fearful, angry, disgusted, sad, and now, existenzangst), we felt it urgent to provide our readers with a comprehensive list of what they can actually do when they find themselves ready to do something.
Fight for Equal Voting Rights
Yes, yes. These issues have everything to do with voting rights. Our nation still remains ill-equipped to host a fair and free election and Georgia was witness to one of the most blatant examples of that fact in 2018. Until reform is achieved in this arena, we will remain unable to achieve reform anywhere else. Here’s what can you do:
- Make sure you are registered to vote.
- If you are not registered to vote and you live in Georgia, go here.
- Sign up to receive alerts about the continued fight for free and fair elections with Fair Fight Action, led by Leader Stacey Abrams.
- If you have problems registering to vote, contact the team at Fair Fight Action.
- Share your story if your right to vote was suppressed in previous election cycles. This will help Abrams and Fair Fight build their case in a groundbreaking federal lawsuit that holds a trial date in March. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Fair Fight Action at email@example.com.
Participate in the 2020 U.S. Census
I know it’s not the sexiest or funnest topic. It feels super nerdy, but it’s extremely important. Somehow, it seems like it’s easier to convince people to vote than it is to get counted. We get one shot (cue “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, yeah, I went there) every 10 years to get a fair count that will then determine much of our economical and political landscape for the next decade to come. For now, simply commit to be counted here on Fair Count’s official website. Super easy.
Fair Count is Abrams’ sister nonprofit she founded in 2019. It was one of the many things she intended to do as governor. She realized she didn’t need to be governor to install this initiative and it is run by her sister, the equally amazing Jeanine Abrams McLean. More reporting on this topic and organization to follow as we head towards the census, which will take place in April.
Global warming and the Australian wildfires
Where to begin with this one? It’s hard to not buckle down in anxiety or shame when considering global warming. For one, capitalism programs us to believe it’s our fault. But you’re not the problem. Please remember that.
It also means that you alone are not the solution. I will, again, yield to the notion that our energy is best served being channeled into fighting for voting rights, as well as fighting for a fair count in the next census. However, I understand that the devastation in Australia is prompting major urges to do something now. And that’s great.
The easy answer might appear to be donating. If that is something in both your heart and your wallet, do not hesitate. The question is, donate to whom and what organizations can you trust? There are some shady organizations out there and you want to ensure your money is actually going somewhere to help and not line anyone’s pockets. Here’s a list of organizations that have been vetted by one of our sources:
- Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery.
- WIRES Wildlife Rescue, an Australia-based organization dedicated to protecting wildlife. They have issued an emergency notice, stating, “In WIRES history we have never seen a concurrent series of emergencies events like those that began in November. It is impossible to know how many animals have perished and it will be many months before the impact on wild populations can be better understood but ecologists at Sydney University have estimated over 800 million animals have been affected in NSW and over 1 billion animals in Australia since September. Summer is a frantically busy time for wildlife rescue and there are still over 100 fires burning in NSW. In December alone there were over 20,000 calls to WIRES 1300 line, a 14% increase on last year, and volunteers attended over 3,300 rescues. To help rescue sick, injured and orphaned wildlife please support WIRES Emergency Fund.”
- The RSPCA to help pets and domestic/farm animals.
- Foodbank to help people eat. For every $1 you donate, Foodbank is able to provide $6 worth of supplies to affected communities thanks to our partnership with the food and grocery sector.
- To help firefighters and their families, please donate to this locally-run fundraiser led by NonsenseATL. Donations are still currently being accepted to be donated to the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service on your behalf.
Great opportunity to get off our screens and into the streets. There are protests happening nationwide today (Thurs., Jan. 9) starting at 5 p.m. to scream “NO” to a war with Iran and will likely continue in the coming months. Search for the event nearest your ZIP code here. If you can’t attend, give the folks at Congress a ring and tell them you oppose a war with Iran.
As we have all suffered longtime conditioning at the hand of a capitalist and imperialist society, it’s going to take a lot of time to undo that programming. We, the general public, have been lied to by mainstream media and our own government about America’s involvement in the Middle East and other foreign countries for decades. It might be time to break out some alt history books. In the meantime, let’s open ourselves up to the idea that we have been wrong this entire time. Mainline news section contributor Elliot Fullerton’s article is a good place to start. A great, brief rundown that explains the current shenanigans between the U.S. and Iran following the assassination of General Soleimani. There’s also like, 100 links in there of additional resources. Check it out.
Until I gain more insight on what else can actually be done as things develop, let me take a moment to state what should be obvious: don’t start wars in your personal life. We’re all feeling shaky and some level of anxiety right now. Let’s not take it out on one another.
If you find yourself being gaslighted
This is super real. It’s not just the gaslighting experts of the Republican Party and the Trump administration; it’s folks you might encounter in your regular day-to-day. Could even be a friend. To gaslight someone is “manipulate (them) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” This can show up in the other person being dismissive, denying what you’re telling them, telling you you’re being selfish (or other negative attributes) when you’re not, saying everyone else is lying to you, and so on. Somehow, they’re able to turn legitimate and rational fears, concerns, and general moments of sadness into you being crazy, thus sending you into a web of shame, self-doubt, and sometimes, silence they spun themselves. Gross.
Some find it easier to minimize concerns over issues like global warming, anything regarding politics, war, or emotions to avoid coming to terms with the reality of difficult situations. Or they’re just dicks. I don’t really know. I’ve ceased trying to understand it. Earlier today, when expressing my fear and concern surrounding global warming because of the wildfires occurring in Australia, I was told I don’t know what happened unless I actually saw it, in person. (Like pictures from various news sources don’t count? Okay then.)
My suggestion? (Note: I’m not a therapist.) Tune them out. Say “fuck ’em” and move on. Do not waste your breath. Time and energy are better spent in any of the other ways mentioned in this article. It’s not our responsibility to somehow magically install empathy in people who just don’t seem to have it. I believe it is, however, our responsibility to discern who’s safe to talk to when we’re vulnerable and who isn’t. Assemble that team. Once someone shows you who they are, take their word (or rather, their actions) for it. Don’t go running back to them and try to make them care. Drop it and move on. It’ll happen some other way, but it doesn’t have to be through you.
If you feel fucked up and like no one is listening, you can find a nice dose of empowerment here, here, and here.
War, global warming, catastrophe, impeachment, plane crashes … all of this stuff feels very big. For those of us who choose to stay connected to the news cycle (I’m a journalist; it’s my job), it’s difficult to not absorb at least a little bit of it and carry it around with you. It’s difficult to keep your feet on the ground and keep your head straight when there’s so much going on at once. And for those who detach themselves from the news cycle—amen. Power to you. This isn’t intended to be for one type over the other. I’ll admit, this entire article is outside of my scope of work as a journalist. This comes from the mind of an activist and a place of compassion and empathy.
Whoever you are, remember the weight of the world is not on you or anyone else around you. Pause. Meditate. Breathe. And be nice. Cut toxic behaviors (your own and others) out of your life and save that energy. Be selective of where you choose to spend that energy. Get creative. Be in nature. Support your friends and their creative endeavors. Go to a show. Make music. Do something you want to do. Ask for help if you need it. Stay connected. Stay up.
We’ll see y’all out there.