WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER
This essay was originally published on The Shapes We Make.
The night of the election was the darkest night of my life. There was no part of me that believed I could have hope for the future with Trump in office; there was no part of me that believed I had what it took to fight this kind of forest fire evil. I sank shivering into my bed and thought I don't want to live in this kind of world. I didn't want to wake up the next day and the day after that and watch as Trump destroyed our only home through his earth shatteringly stupid climate denial policies.
That kind of soul-eclipsing sorrow took a few days to work out of my system. I'd never felt that utterly helpless before and I didn't know what to do with it. But as the days passed, my grief calcified into an electrifying rage. I was still fearful and frustrated but I was also mad—mad that this snake oil salesman tricked half the country, mad that his actualized policy plans would spell climate catastrophe, mad at the bigotry his elections normalized.
Feeling my full anger made me realize that I don't want to let one man decide whether women, people of color, and religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities have the right to live full and happy lives. Trump's climate policies frighten the shit out of me and sometimes, the work ahead is overwhelming. But when I think about the life that I want to live—no matter how many years we have left on this earth—I imagine a life rich in radical love and outdoor adventures and lazy mornings making beautiful meals, materials, memories. I want my loved ones to be loved. I want trees to be tended to. I want to believe I can have children who will grow up savoring crisp falls, cold winters, spring buds, fertile fields. And I want to fight for those things because what else am I going to do?
Everyone's personal game plan for challenging Trump is going to look different. What matters is that you articulate a few steps you can take so that when you are paralyzed by rage or raw with fear, you can turn to your guide and say Oh, right, this will help. We are CRAZY powerful. Don't give away that power out of fear.
Herewith, my ten step plan for turning our Cheeto President Elect into a pile of orange dust. What's yours?
The work ahead is going to be a slog. There will be moments of loss, of anger, of triumph. And the only way I'm going to be able to hold those multitudes in my heart is if I take care to nourish my sweet self. I can't be drained if I'm not filled up. In that spirit, I'm making juicy hikes, tender mornings curled up with mugs of tea, and art-filled afternoons my weekly priorities.
(2) BE THE CHANGE
I'm so freaking angry at the threat Trump's climate denial policies pose to our collective right to life. We can't let this monster of a man privatize national parks and enable environmental injustice. So that means I need to fully embody the changes that I want for this world through my everyday actions. I support renewable energy by using Arcadia Power, and am working with my family and friends to find the right clean energy plan for their budget, region, and resources. I eat mostly plants, waste a whole lot less, and give generously to hardworking organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center because channeling the money I would otherwise spend on drinks with friends toward the NRDC is 100% no-questions-asked worth it. And although there's a a lot more to be done, I'm determined to do it.
(3) RELENTLESS RADICAL
THIS IS NOT NORMAL. I'm never going to allow what is transpiring in our country to be normal and nor should our elected officials. I'm going to show up at solidarity meetings and call our Congress (here's how) to talk politics like it's my job. Pushing for radical change isn't idealistic—it's how we're going to survive. Building a better world begins now.
(4) BUILD MY RESILIENCY
I'm going to intentionally dive into risky situations and embrace sudden change with an open hand because learning how to do that will help me learn how to make space for the inevitable ebbs and flows of activism. Paralysis is a luxury; I don't want to crumble at every setback. I want to turn my raw rage into a catalyst for tangible action. And I'm going to do that, bit by bit, by chowing down on fresh challenges.
(5) GET POLITICAL
As a newly minted member of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, I am learning how to show up when it matters most. Our federal government isn't going to take care of our earth or care about women's bodies or defend civil liberties. We have to! Because tapping into the power in the people is where it's at.
(6) ADVENTURE FEARLESSLY
As easy as it is sometimes to slump into a ball on my bed and sink into a numbing Netflix hole, I'm not going to choose numbness over nervy energy. Instead, I will continue to dream up and dive into adventures that bring me closer to this earth and those I love.
(7) SHOW SOLIDARITY
Trump's hateful rhetoric has legitimized crimes against humanity. I'm going to be there for my Muslim, Latinx, Black, Immigrant, and LGBTQ brothers and sisters on their terms each and every day. We need to love one another and show up for each other with passion and persistence.
(8) MAKE ART NOT WAR
Toni Morrison's call to action for creatives always stirs something in me. Art isn't superficial; it's a beautiful, brilliant catalyst for survival. My passion for writing, for whipping up herbal remedies, for making art—these deep loves are all channels for change. I don't want to be silent. I don't want to sit on the sidelines. I want to be river deep in my life, fighting for, tending to, and profoundly celebrating the people, places, and projects that matter most.
(9) BE UNGOVERNABLE
The power lies with us. We can choose to resist, to rebel, to rebuild, to redesign. Refuse to abide by any rule that harms this planet and the people who walk on it. Be deliciously, determinedly ungovernable.
(10) GIVE LOVE GENEROUSLY
Because there is nothing as abundant in this world as love. Not going to hold back now.
More than anything, it is important to recognize intersectionality and to honor the interconnectedness of our struggles and of our successes in everything that we do. As I wrote in 4 Simple Ways To Smash The Patriarchy, "there isn't one kind of feminism and there isn't one way to be a feminist. The patriarchy gains power through othering. It's essential then that we recognize that we are allied in our diversity, that we are unified by our differences. Colonialism, racism, and transphobia have impacted (and continue to impact) communities in different ways and that has given rise to different ways of fighting for, establishing, and assessing equality. For movements to change the world, there has to be collision and conversation between points of view. The environmental movement(s) isn't happening in a sphere separate from the work of feminism(s); if anything, it's a profoundly vital part of our collective work." BLM, the environmental movement(s), LGBTQI resistance—our work is interwoven. And it's in those points of overlap that we can find the power to fight, and to win.
RESISTANCE IS WITHIN YOU: