Things are bad. It sure looks like the US is headed down a dark and bloody road, and it’s not clear to me that changing course is even going to be possible. If civil war in the United States can be avoided, I think it should be. To be clear, that does not mean appeasing a fascist regime – history has shown that doing so won’t help us avoid violence, and might make it significantly worse. If the Trump administration continues down the road it’s on, war seems unavoidable, in one form or another. I’m no historian, but from what little I do know of history, I think Beau of the Fifth Column is right about where we are:
As with climate change, we’re caught in a bad place. There aren’t really any good options, just the hope that through effort and luck we can find a way to a situation where there are good options. And as with climate change, there are some things we can do that will help us regardless of what happens next. Sticking with Beau here, there’s something that you can do that will help with the current political situation, and with climate change.
Form, maintain, and strengthen local community networks. This is not something I’m good at, myself. In many ways I’m a classic introvert, in that social activities and activism wear on me in a big way. There are plenty of people out there who know way more about this kind of organizing than I do, so if you’re not one of those folks, keep an eye out for them, or seek them out. Beau has a bunch of good advice, not just in the following video, but elsewhere in his body of work.
Look into mutual aid groups, like the ones that have sprung up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Look into anarchist approaches to building communities and self-reliance. If you hear “anarchist” and think of violence and chaos, set that aside for right now, and spend some time thinking about people might look into organizing a peaceful, just society without any government enforcing rules from the top down. Even if you don’t want to live in that kind of society, the sorts of community building that anarchists tend to advocate and practice will also make for a more peaceful, democratic society even with there being a government involved. There’s a wealth of literature, so start looking through it. If you don’t know where to begin, head here, and look for titles that seem interesting.
Think of this as the pro-social version of “doomsday prepping” – not prepping to be a “sole survivor” in an action movie, but rather to be part of an effort to maintain community and build whatever society we have now into something better. If you have food stored, you can share it with neighbors, should there be a shortage. If you have the means to make water safe to drink, you can save lives and bring people together. If you have a network of people who know they have allies who’re also taking this approach, that’s a foundation on which you can rebuild, even if everything else is washed away.
Humans have a variety of different responses to scary situations. The one that has served us best, and will continue to serve us going forward, is the instinct to reach out to others to comfort and to seek comfort; to help and to seek help. As with so many other social species, our greatest strength is our ability to come together and share burdens that are too heavy for any of us to bear alone.
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