What To Do Right Now

Sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon, eyeing the implacable to-do list. I’ve always believed a freelance writer’s work is never done. There is always another magazine to pitch, another blog to write, another idea to flesh out, another email to send, another newsletter to read. The opportunities are as limitless as grains of sand and each one missed feels like a small but meaningful moral failure.

That is my archaic Protestant blood; the part of me descended from Huguenots and who knows what else: Methodists, Calvinists, Puritans? They’re mixed up in my family tree. The clear line is work, duty and the precariousness of salvation. All I did was replace the fear of damnation with the fear of failure.

It is a poor exchange. The reward is as evanescent as the demands are arbitrary. What heaven? Whose definition of success?

Meanwhile, Trump threatens nuclear war. White supremacists roam free across the US. Britain is committing slow motion suicide in the name of Brexit.

We live in the proverbial interesting times.

I would like to have something wise to say about this and don’t.

What I can recommend to everyone, starting with myself, is to take the to-do list lightly. After the mushroom cloud, no one will remember or care if you ticked that last item off the list. Instead, spend serious time on things that have meaning right now. Like cooking a good meal, drinking a glass of wine, talking (not texting) to a friend. And reading books. Lots of books.

Media adds to the chaos and noise. There’s too much information, too much bullshit, too much chatter, too many memes, too much clickbait, too many ads disguised as editorial.

Books don’t have hyperlinks. Books create space for your mind to breathe. Books tell us how things worked out the last time around Off the top of my head, here are seven books you should read because they’ll help you make sense of right now.

  1. EM Forster – Two Cheers for Democracy
  2. Martha Gellhorn – The Face of War
  3. Earnest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms
  4. Joseph Heller – Catch-22
  5. George Orwell – Homage to Catalonia
  6. Emma Goldman – Essays on Anarchism
  7. Eric Ambler – Uncommon Danger
  8. Wilfred Own – The Collected Poems

Add your suggestions please!

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Resist List

A shitstorm’s a’coming, America, and it is tempting to sit like a rabbit in the headlights of 24/7 all-you-can-eat-non-stop-over-the-top media madness. It is easy to feel helpless as a bunny in front of a bazooka. Which is what They want. They want good people to be frightened, disempowered, anxious, depressed, fatalistic. They get us that way by generating global drama to distract us from the simple business of living in our own skin.

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Do your damnedest

Who has time to help a neighbour, volunteer, or read a book when THE END IS NIGH?

Not us, if They can help it.

Let’s call out that lie. Let’s insist on the value and validity of our lives. Let’s resist by doing small things to help, encourage, support, and contribute to our community.

Resistance comes in all shapes, sizes and creeds. Environmental activism, visiting the elderly, leading a youth group, donating to an animal shelter. It’s all good. It all matters. Every small act of care for a sentient being is a pebble in Goliath’s eye.

Here’s my resist list. What’s yours?

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Stand for something

Tip cash

Cash tips mostly go to servers. Card tips mostly disappear into an accounting black hole. Also, if you’re in the USA, do a quick Google search and check state law on tipping. In Oregon, employers have to pay the full minimum wage, tips are extra. In Tennessee, employers pay as little as $2.13/hour as tips count towards the paltry $7.25/hour minimum wage. If your home state is in a similar situation contact your Representatives & Congress people, and agitate against these oppressive laws that protect bosses.

Buy less/buy second hand

Because A) They want you to be doped on ads, neck-deep in debt and dissatisfied; and
B) Stuff ties you down. Stay free, stay mobile.

Avoid cheap new goods; they are the product of exploitation. As the great Victorian critic John Ruskin pointed out, if something is sold for less the true cost of production, it is stolen. They are also an environmental nightmare. Resell, re-buy, reuse. Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, garage sales, and thrift stores are a good place to start.

Get a library card

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Read for your rights

Libraries are the perfect place to plot a revolution. Read the books They don’t want you to read. Study. Learn. Connect to worlds of wisdom and possibility.

Exercise

The only proven treatment for depression that has no negative side effects? Exercise.
It also prevents heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, etc etc. They are happy to have a weak, sick, docile population. Stay strong and resist.

Speak

Even if you think it doesn’t affect you. Never forget the words of Martin Niemoller,
a German Protestant minister who spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Listen

To the people you love: because it’s easy to take then for granted,  take out our stress on them, or assume we know them. Ask questions, even if you think you know the answer.

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Be alert

To people you disagree with: antagonism and mutual mistrust is what got us here, it won’t get us out. Let’s none of us build walls.

To people no one else hears: kids, homeless, older, female, coloured… there are a lot of things that get you ignored. Make a conscious effort to give them your ear.

 

Share your Resist List in the comments or Tweet @CilaWarncke your #resistlist