“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”–Toni Morrison
I wrote this post for my American readers but it equally applies to Brazilians who have an important election coming up . . . and really all of you. Forgive the U.S. references if you are not from the U.S. but I also want to address my fellow American readers.
What we just experienced in the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings in the U.S. was enough to make any sentient/sensitive human being want to crawl into a hole for a very long time. That and the bad news any given day could flatten you.
In my coaching practice I have noticed the word “flat” has come up a number of times with a number of clients. Not all my clients have used the word but I also sense it myself. How could all this division, fear, and horrible-ness not affect us on a personal level? How much bad news to absorb? What to do in response? There is anger and what do you do with that anger?
When we feel overwhelmed we switch off our emotions to avoid being inundated. In the overwhelm there comes a numbness, a checking-out, a zoning-out as a kind of self-protection.
I notice more people complaining that they are watching too much Netflix at night. Escape. This is not true for everyone I talk to but I also feel it in the air–the moment has a powerful demotivating quality. I find myself fending off numbness when scrolling through my Facebook feed. I felt the flatness encroach. The flatness is that feeling of defeat. That feeling of why bother?
I also hear about people activating. Friends are volunteering who have never volunteered before. People are canvassing – going door to door – for local candidates who never canvassed before.
The best way I know for how to spring out of flatness is to connect with others and get into action taking a stand for something you believe in. Whether that’s registering to vote, volunteering, or doing your own good work for the world, whatever that may be.
Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher who powerfully yelled at Jeff Flake as he was standing in the elevator shows us how individuals matter. Those women should be remembered in this history books. When they yelled at Jeff Flake, “Look at me when I’m talking to you” they were demanding that he SEE us. They likely moved him to vote for an investigation of sexual assault charges against Kavanaugh.
Even if that investigation didn’t turn out to be as deep as it should have been the image of a sexual assault survivor screaming to a senator saying “Look at me, don’t look away!” was powerful. That image will be one I’ll remember for a long time.
Ana and Maria reminded us that individuals really can make a difference.
For my male readers. I have talked to a number of men about #metoo. These are men who I consider quirky, sensitive, and supportive of women. They too were more immediately worried about being falsely accused of sexual assault than of our culture normalizing the abuse and harassment of women. I invite you all, ladies and gentlemen, and especially the men, to watch this brilliant talk by Trevor Noah. He cops to secretly feeling worried about being accused for something he didn’t do and about why it’s important to stay focused on the larger story unfolding here.
Please don’t give up.
Be sure you are registered. Here are the deadlines for every state.
Get off social media and use your hands and your creativity. Send handwritten postcards to voters.
Find a local candidate you admire and help him or her. You will meet others who are activated and of like mind. Volunteering can be good for the soul.
Volunteer to make phone calls from home now or on the last weekend before the election when it’s all-important Get Out the Vote time.
Vote for people who express your values. Vote your conscience.
This is a critical moment.