Activism As Therapy
Your participation in the world creates the world you want
The Women’s March, BLM, and International Women’s Day celebrations — or any just cause event — are as revitalizing as they are vital. Many people have noted that shared support for justice is emotionally satisfying. But some of us still endure Trump nightmares, as well as physical symptoms that can and do cause distress. It is exhausting to wake up to a new outrage each day, but there is a way to turn those Oranges into ‘Vitamin See’ awareness.
In the science of Ecopsychology we recognize that the threats against Earth and biodiversity are not separate from the threats against social justice. Just knowing that all over the globe, domination and profit values are destroying human beings and habitats can be very stressful, but one tried and true remedy is activism.
Here are a few tips for what you can do to keep the good vibes going, inside and outside, your desperately needed brain, and your actively participating body.
Act on at least one life affirming action each, and every day. In my household, we check the news to see which hard-earned right is most threatened for that particular day, and go at it.
— Meet with your friends, and even more importantly, your ‘enemies.’
In this fight for justice and clean air, water, and food, people of all stripes really need to be heard, and counted. Diversity, no matter what ‘alternative facts’ are presented, is Nature’s number one law which supports life itself. In biology, we see this fact as biodiversity, but in social justice is it simply and powerfully, “diversity.”
— Do not get muddled up in the same old arguments that go nowhere with skeptics, deniers, (legitimate and illegitimate) conservatives or liberals.
Recognize that it is human nature to all of us to be defensive of any perceived threat, on either so called ‘side.’ Cheerfully come back time and again to the fact that fairness, equality, and a cleaner planet are wonderful shared values. The validity of clean air should fill the room. It is necessary to breathe.
— Did I mention Breathe?
Yes! When a bad news Tsunami smacks you like Katrina during Super Storm Sandy, take a long, deep breath. Keep breathing. Mentally thank the Creation, a tree, or your God, for making breathe possible.
As you take in a life-giving breath, focus on anything whatsoever that Eco psychologically provides a welcome sense or sensation. The scent of flowers, the beauty of that tree, the moving clouds, the face of the person in front of you, the feel of warmth or coolness, the aching — but somehow vitalizing — thirst for justice. Ecopsychology teaches we have more than just five basic senses, we also have mental and emotional drives, and life affirmation is a powerful one.
— Join every positive cause that aligns with your love of life that you can manage.
For some that is Black Lives Matter, for others it is 350. Org. We are joining our local Chapter of the Sierra Club. There is a flood of activism being born each day now. You will feel better acting, than you feel when merely listening. As Paul Hawken noted in his book, Blessed Unrest, movements to preserve life and justice itself and are not just the largest movements ever birthed, they are the MOST effective.
— Hugs. Do not forget to offer hugs to your friends, family, pets, and even your allied dissenters.
As you offer a hug, remember also that bodily integrity and consent matters. We often intrude upon others’ bodies without consent, and even more often, upon natural resources. To be aware of this privilege to share is wonderful and crucial.
— Write, call, reach out to your employees. YOU are the boss.
These are the public servants, senators, representatives, and others whose salaries you pay. Remind yourself that without supervision, they can (and evidently DO) go rogue, treating the planet as their Ego affirming balloon like the one Charlie Chaplin threatened to burst in his classic film, The Great Dictator. It is the responsibility of all of us, the BOSS, to see they do their jobs.
At the January 21 march, Gloria Steinem advised people at the march to connect. Knowing mutual concerns is great, but sharing relentless reinforcement that we are united is what is truly empowering.
— Get off your computer, or news feed, and participate also in the actual beauty of the life-support we call Earth.
The wonder of the Creation, and your faith in it, teaches daily that diversity is not just a miracle, but a healing fifteen-minute walk with your children, or lunch on a park bench, or just observing a bird. Our disconnection with nature, and the values of domination over her, (or anyone) got us into this trouble. They also offer a way out.
It’s that simple. Show up. Breathe. Be grateful. Listen to others. Watch in wonder. Hug. And never shut up.