The global political situation is a hurricane of controversy right now. A lot of people are worried about what changes in the United States could mean for America and the rest of the world. Many are reporting feeling anxious and helpless. But fear not, the situation is not helpless! There is plenty you can do starting right now to take action and make a stand.
We called up one of our favourite activists, Anastasia Gaisenok of Check Your Head: The Youth Global Education Network. She gave us a few ideas of what to do when governments start going rogue and political discourse gets heated.
The best thing you can do in the face of overwhelming political unrest is educate yourself. That doesn’t mean reading what your friends are saying on Facebook. Anastasia says, “research balanced perspectives by proactively seeking different sources of information, not just following social media feeds that create an echo chamber.” Read peer reviewed papers, journalism from reliable sources, and primary source material. Consider the author’s credentials: an article on climate change ought to be written by a scientist, not an opinion columnist. A great source for this kind of reading is a local, independent bookstore, like Spartacus Books in Vancouver, or your public library.
Learning on your own has two main benefits: (1) you will understand the situation better and will identify which issues are most important to you; and (2) you’ll be better equipped for the next step.
Have conversations with people who think differently than you. With an open mind, engage friends, family members, classmates, and whoever else is willing. Look for common ground and seek understanding, rather than trying to win the argument.
“Commit to learning about people’s diverse journeys and experiences, engage in critical conversations with people in your social circle, challenge them and yourself to examine the views that you hold and how they can be contributing to problematic narratives.” – Anastasia Gaisenok
Social media can make it seem like everyone thinks like you do. It’s probably not the case. To quote Tobias Stone, “We need to find a way to bridge from our closed groups to other closed groups, try to cross the ever widening social divides.” Even if your mind doesn’t change, at least you’ll understand the other side of the conversation.
Volunteer with an organization that supports the kind of change you want to see or join an activist group that organizes actions in your community. Here are some groups that Anastasia recommends that are working in areas that are especially relevant right now:
- Immigrant Services Society of BC
- The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA)
- No One Is Illegal – Vancouver
- Sanctuary Health
- Black Lives Matter
- Migrante BC
- Battered Women Support Services (BWSS)
- Ending Violence Association of BC
- The Society of Transition Houses
- QMUNITY (see also our interview with Danny Ramadan)
Reading and talking is educational, but showing up to events is where the rubber meets the road. Attending and supporting community events shows that you are committed to a cause and willing to literally stand up for it.
“I think the existential anxiety and the horror around what’s going on can only really be addressed through meaningful interaction with other human beings.” – Anastasia Gaisenok
Keep an eye on events calendars in your area, social media accounts for organizations that align with your values, and newsletters from charities and groups like the ones listed above. Make a funny sign and put on comfortable shoes. Just get out there.
Give to an organization that is doing work that you think is important. Check Your Head is a great choice, obviously. They teach youth about social issues and help them to take action on causes that are important to them. The children are the future, right? If that doesn’t float your boat, do your research and make sure your money is going somewhere that counts. Tell your like-minded friends and start a giving group. You could be the first step toward the next big positive change.
So what are you waiting for?