Yes, it happened to me; the inevitable spat with a relative about the election. It was a sunny morning, two days prior to Election Day, in a public place with my father, daughter and her boyfriend. We were enjoying lunch when the conversation rolled around discussing how downright nasty the election had become between opponents. My father then leaned in and said to me, “You better be telling me that you are not voting for that criminal, Hillary. Because I am not sure I will speak to you anymore if that is the case.” At that point, I felt my cheeks burn red hot and I leaned forward and spoke slowly and clearly (like Clint Eastwood in a cowboy flick) and said, “I would do everything in my power, which at this point is my vote, to keep a person like Trump out of office.” Then things got out of hand and father and daughter were unable to meet in the middle. I rattled on about the environment, the bigotry, the Muslim internment issue, etc, etc, etc. My father barked back about how ISIS was real and that the Clintons were untrustworthy and don’t even get him started on Obamacare, etc., etc., etc. We both lost it. The conversation, more accurately described as a horrendous argument, finalized in a thick, awkward silence between two people that dearly love each other but clearly wanted to ring the other’s neck. We were able to manage the rest of the meal and leave without inflicting any further harm but the bitter disconnect was real, and tangible. Two days later, although I felt nauseous when I heard the results, I was perhaps less surprised than others. After all, everyone in my hometown had voted red. As much as I tried to see the other’s point of view, I could not wrap my head around it.
1. Revisit your US Bill of Rights. (www.billofrightsinstitute.org)
2. Join groups working collectively for causes. Here are some examples:
- Union of Concerned Scientists (www.ucsusa.org/)
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (www.aclu.org/)
- Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org/local-issues/arizona)
- Arizona Action Network (azactionnetwork.org/)
- United Students against Sweatshops (http://usas.org/)
- Council for American-Islamic Relations (www.cair.com)
- Green for All (www.greenforall.org/)
- Peace, Justice and Environment Project: (www.pjep.org/)
- Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org)
- National Audobon Society (www.audubon.org)
- World Wildlife Fund (www.worldwildlife.org)
- One Percent for the Planet (www.onepercentfortheplanet.org)
- National Resources Defense Council (www.nrdc.org)
- National Geographic Society (www.nationalgeographic.org)
- Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org)
- World Watch Institute (www.worldwatch.org)
- International Panel on Climate Change (http://www.ipcc.ch)
- National Association of Environmental Professionals (www.naep.org)
3. Join a cause via social network such as:
- Pantsuit Nation
- Earth Tribe (www.facebook.com/EnvironmentalActivism)
- Nature Conservancy (www.facebook.com/thenatureconservancy)
- Environmental Working Group (https://www.facebook.com/ewg.org)
- The activist groups from 2. (above) all have Facebook group pages too.
4. Mentor youth, or do community service. Take your pick, there is a plethora of areas to contribute in this way including:
- Big Brothers, Big Sisters (www.bbbs.org)
- YMCA (www.ymca.net/volunteer)
- Hospitals (www.volunteermatch.org)
- Shelters (www.volunteermatch.org)
- Imentor (www.imentor.org)
- ASU (www.changemaker.asu.edu/serve)
5. Write your own petition directly to the executive branch. You can be the initiator of action to start a cause (Note: 100, 000 signatures are necessary for a response). The White House initiated it in 2011 as tech savvy method of voicing issues that are of concern to the general public. (www.petitions.whitehouse.gov) Note: This website is valid, but all petitions that you see online may not be, check validity of prepared petitions that you find, if they are encumbered with ads it may be a scam to collect spam emails.
6. We also have representation in the legislative branch House and the Senate. So, get your stationary out, and send a letter. You can also directly call to voice concern to your local representatives. Emails are accepted but I found that many people stated that emails are so plentiful that they are sometimes overlooked. To know where you want to send your letter to, you must decide between the House and the Senate. Here is a brief rundown of the two parts of congress. The House of Representatives is more focused on economically based issues and has the ability to impeach. They make decisions with the majority vote. We have nine representatives for Arizona. The senate is composed of a smaller more prestigious group, with only two senators per state and vote individually. They have ability to appoint the cabinet members for the executive branch and act as senior advisors to the federal government. Remember, letters are read, but some will be disregarded if not properly filled out. Make a clear and concise one page letter that is free of insulting rhetoric. Have a point to your letter, using facts as evidence. Do not send the letter anonymously, they will not be read without name, address and contact information. I have included the contact information for the two senators for Arizona:
- Jeff Flake (Republican): (202) 224-4521 at 413 Russel Senate Office Building Washington DC, 201510 (www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.dfm/contact-jeff)
- John McCain (Republican) (202) 224-2235 at 218 Russel Senate Office Building Washington DC, 201510 (www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.dfm/contact-form)
Above all, stay educated while educating others along your journey. Voice concerns where problems are obvious. “Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.”—Elie Weisel.
NOTE: Please feel free to contribute more suggestions for action in the comments below.