Here we are on the eve of the end of the year, 21 days away from a man we didn’t think could be president becoming president. I have always agonized a bit over my lack of “involvement”. I don’t quite know what it means. But I can’t help but feel now more than ever, that I should be doing more. One small thing I did over the holidays was to donate money in people’s honor instead of buying them presents I wasn’t sure they’d even like. Or that they could buy themselves. I also donated money shortly after the election and I hope to continue contributing to causes I care about and that can do good in the world. But that doesn’t strike me as being particularly involved. I’m sure it helps and it certainly made me feel pretty good, but it’s not getting my hands dirty.
The other day, our whole family had a heated argument about the election and why Trump won and what we can do. It’s interesting to have two smart, but very young, kids participating in the conversation. Both of our kids follow the news. They often bring information to us before we’ve seen it. Geeky Boy’s argument is that the two sides don’t talk anymore and that the way forward is to start talking to people on the other side (or on no side, which is a larger percentage) and to convince them to vote and to vote for your candidate. Geeky Girl agrees. Mr. Geeky countered that that won’t work. He’s spent a year and a half arguing with the other side and hasn’t convinced anyone to change their minds. I agree with both. I agree with my kids that it’s important to try to engage people that you disagree with. It’s possible to change minds, but it’s hard. It doesn’t happen overnight. But I also agree with Mr. Geeky that there are people on the other side who can’t be swayed. Not only do they not respond to logic, but they often won’t even respond to an appeal to emotion or empathy. There’s no way in. Mr. Geeky has taken that to its logical conclusion and feels much more cynical about the next four years than my kids and I do.
But what do we do with our earnestness? There are local politics, which I’ve been involved in before and could be involved in again. There are state level politics, but frankly, not a lot is happening on that front. In my district, our state reps are both Democrats. At the national level, we just re-elected our Republican Senator. The Democrat is up in 2018, but he’s so moderate, I doubt he’ll be seriously challenged. And my guess is the Democrats won’t run someone against him that’s to his left. All politics is local, but the real action is happening at the national level. Sure, I can call my senators every time I’m pissed off, but 2018 needs to be about flipping one of the houses. Locally, the best we can do is keep our seat. Beyond that, we need some decent candidates.
But how does a busy working woman and her family really dig in and do something? That’s the question I keep coming back to. Here’s a thing I keep thinking about. We, neither as a family nor as individuals, belong to a community organization. We don’t go to church and beyond church, we don’t even know what organization to belong to. It’s honestly not that I don’t want to belong to something. It’s just that there’s not much out there beyond religious organizations (and I live in a large city). Rotary Club (religion infused), nope. I played bridge in college and grad school, and once looked to find a bridge club. There are some, but most meet in the middle of the day on weekdays. You must be retired or unemployed to join. There are a handful of civic organizations but they don’t seem to meet very often or have super specific goals, like working in particular park, etc. So we’re mostly on our own, socializing with friends, but rarely interacting at a deeper level with those who might hold different views from us, something we might gain from being in an organization.
So I don’t know where we go from here, or in what way I might engage beyond my immediate family. I do know that the Internet isn’t enough. It’s a starting point, but it’s not the same as engaging face to face. That, my whole family agrees on.