1. Identify an organization
Connecting with an organization is an important first step. Maybe you already have a relationship with one, but you’re choosing to deepen it. Then think about what you want your involvement to look like. This could mean all sorts of different things, but find something you’re comfortable with to start, like attending a public meeting. Sign up for their email lists.
2. Make a plan
What can you reasonably commit to doing? Maybe it’s spending one day a month with your partner and/or kids volunteering. Maybe it’s an hour every Monday making calls to your elected officials. Maybe it’s forming a book group that specifically focuses on better understanding autocratic regimes or historical examples of resistance. Figure out something you can do with some regularity, and commit to that plan.
3. Start small
Whatever your level of activism or advocacy, take it up a notch. That doesn’t mean if you’ve been pretty apolitical to turn it up to 11 — it means give yourself an achievable target and then meet it. You can always take it up from there, but if you aim too high and fail, you will only demoralize yourself (and maybe let others down).
Ask friends and family to give to a specific organization on your behalf instead of presents this holiday season. Or give in someone else’s name. Ideally set up recurring, automatic (monthly) donations to an organization. Set aside money to donate and ask your kids to help you decide where it should go. Start a change jar for the resistance. Or find other things you can donate including furniture, time, canned food and the like.
5. Invite a friend
Find a friend who you trust and can discuss these issues with comfortably. Agree to get involved together. You can share the same level of involvement and learn together, or maybe one of you is helping the other feel comfortable taking greater action. Both are valuable. Having someone to talk to about everything is priceless, but be careful not to make the other person solely responsible for your emotional wellbeing.
6. Find a protest
If you’ve never been to a protest, maybe start by showing up and watching one from a distance. If you’re well versed, bring someone who isn’t. It will likely be easy to find a local protest on Facebook, especially around the inauguration. You may decide that protests aren’t your thing, but attend at least one before making up your mind.
7. Download Signal
Signal is a free messaging app that is much more secure than texting or other apps. Considering what we know about the massive NSA surveillance of everyday folks, and that it already looks like Trump is pursuing a witch hunt against government employees who’ve been involved in climate change talks, it’s worth taking the simple step to communicate more securely when possible.
8. Call your representatives
It may not feel like they’re listening, but it’s an easy place to get started. Call their local offices (rather than DC or Raleigh) and focus on a specific issue. Call to thank them for a particular stance or to urge them to oppose a proposal. Call your representatives and call often. Better yet, show up to the office or to an in-person event! If you decide this is a waste of time, call other leaders you know and urge them to take action — maybe your pastor, imam or rabbi. Call your friends and check on them in these trying times, too.
9. Read real news
Be careful to rely only on trustworthy news sources. Don’t repost something that seems outrageous without checking the veracity of the source. Find two reputable news organizations (preferably print media outlets) and go directly to their sites on a regular basis rather than relying on social media feeds to put the news in front of you. Staying informed is important. Better yet, get a print or digital subscription.
10. Take care of yourself
We need you in this fight. Prevent burnout by taking time to care for yourself, to relax. Don’t feel like this is on your shoulders alone. Do not feel guilty for continuing to enjoy a mindless TV show or for missing an event. Be ready and willing to give up some of your routine and comfortability to the resistance, but do not lose yourself. Your joy is important and so is your health.