Friday, May 12, 2017

Reading News in the New Age

I can't be the only one who's had a hard time focusing this week. Here's what I said on Twitter, and I'm not sure how much more intelligently I can add to it right now.

It's really overwhelming lately to stay alert, and to do anything, and I think this is the second time I've said that this week. Still, I'm trying.

Today there's a protest in downtown Providence, where people will demand an independent investigation in the wake of the Comey firing. I don't know if I have it in me to go, but I want to.

[And can I say a quick thing here? I went to the Women's March in Providence, and people there talked about people "getting off the couch" and coming to protest, and I really didn't like hearing it put that way. "Get off the couch" plays into that thing of calling other people lazy, and it's too popular and rather cruel. There are lots of reasons it can be hard to show up to a protest. For me personally, social anxiety and depression are major factors. So if I'm not there, it's not fair to assume that's because I'm "on the couch." I can think of plenty of other non-lazy reasons for people to not have a history of in-person protest activity.

I'm aware that it can really make a difference to show up in person, so I try to push myself. But it is something I have to really push myself to do. And I have to say that being in a shout-y crowd can be really tough for me. I went with a hesitant partner to a community town hall held by RI Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. There wasn't enough room inside for the crowd, and the crowd got angry. My partner was distressed by the atmosphere and begged me to leave. I felt really torn, because I thought it was important to stay, but I also didn't want to ignore my partner's needs (and need for soothing).

I don't mean to say that people shouldn't be angry, because truly outrageous things are going on. I'm just saying that I wish I heard a bit more understanding about reasons other than laziness that might make people reluctant to go to protests.

All that said, I'm really going to try to go today.]

Anyway, the other thing I did this week, which was much easier for my bookish personality, was read Timothy Snyder's amazing book, On Tyranny. I want to buy copies and just sort of leave them around the city. It took only a few hours to read, but it was profound, scary, and somehow also inspiring. After reading it, I have no doubt that our democracy is in danger, and I also feel a bit more informed about what particularly to watch out for, and ways I can make myself ready to stand up against it. I'm planning to review this soon on Goodreads, and it's also a book I plan to read again.

I highly recommend it, especially if you're feeling overwhelmed by the constant flow of terrifying news. The book helped me sharpen my thinking a bit, and I needed that.

Anyway, I'm going to keep trying to be stalwart, vigorous, courageous, and powerful. I hope you can be, too!

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