In his blog post of last Thursday, Robert Reich lists The 4 Dangerous Signs of Passivity in the Face of Trump Tyranny: Normalizer Syndrome, Outrage Numbness Syndrome, Cynical Syndrome, and Helpless Syndrome. I’ve been thinking about what the antidotes might be, because other than the Normalizer one, I have fallen victim to the others, and to their sister, Outright Despair Syndrome.
Here are some Antidotes to the Four Dangerous Signs of Passivity:
1. Practice Deliberate Kindness: You don’t have to look far to see the acts and words of meanness that have erupted in the wake of the election. In such a climate, deliberate and pointed acts of kindness are revolutionary, a way to say, “We will not be party to this.”
2. Be an ally: To everyone. When you witness meanness, stand in the gap. Be the one who asks if you can help. Be canny. When you think someone is being bullied, become Present in the situation. Make sure the bullies know they are being watched and held accountable for their behavior. Make it clear that bullying will not be tolerated.
3. Speak Up. Tell the stories of kindness that you witness. Share the stories of meanness, too, and strategize how to better respond the next time.
4. Laugh. A lot. And not just at the cynical things. Find good healthy things that make you laugh. Try to make other people laugh. Share delight.
5. Believe in the Goodness. The last few weeks have made it harder than ever to believe in the basic goodness in people. How could so many people not let the racism and xenophobia and misogyny NOT be a deal-breaker? It’s tempting to make the next sentence be something about how people really are selfish and racist and xenphobic and misogynistic. Maybe some of them are, but most people also have a lot of goodness in them. Even Anne Frank, in hiding from the Nazis, said, “Despite everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” If she can see it, maybe I can at least try.
6. Gratitude. It’s been really hard for me lately to do this particular spiritual job. Everything seems the same. I feel as though I have run out of gratitude lately. Still, it’s a muscle I want to keep flexing, especially when it’s hard. And I think it’s a powerful antidote to despair and her passive sisters.
What other Antidotes do you suggest?
1. People who help to talk things through.
2. Joyful is the Dark--I think this is my favorite song in church, especially the second verse, about the Raven. Every year we sing it at Advent, and it always comes just I have begun to lose hope that the light will return. The Dark is important. As Jan Richardson says, “Darkness is where Incarnation begins.”
4. Visualizing the best things
5. Loving and Being Loved. Belovedness. Remember, always, that you are Beloved.
May we walk in Beauty!