By Martin Falbisoner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28253642
There’s an old fable that speaks of a king who summoned his wise men and tasked them to gather all the world’s wisdom in one place. After many years, they created a magnificent library housing the sum of all knowledge. The king the challenged them to reduce all this accumulated wisdom to a single book. Many more years passed but eventually the wise men returned to the king with a single volume containing the essence of all knowledge. The king sent them away with a new task: to distill all the world’s wisdom into a single sentence. After much deliberation, the wise men returned to the king and gave him this single sentence, “This too shall pass.”
As I see the concern and fear among my friends over the current political situation, I’m reminded of this phrase and the need to keep things in perspective. In my lifetime, I have experienced many critical events: the battle for civil rights, the Vietnam war protests, the Free Speech Movement, the domestic and international terrorism of the 70’s, to name but a few. As an emergency manager, I have seen the how natural disasters can devastate entire communities. As an amateur historian, I’ve studied the effects of wars and plagues, political unrests, economic collapse, and climate change. Yet somehow, we manage to survive and get on with our lives.
However, don’t think I’m suggesting complacency. I’m a firm believer in the quote by John Stuart Mill that, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” I encourage you to act but make it count. Here are some things you can do:
Educate yourself on how our system of government works. We no longer teach civics in school and it’s shameful that we require more knowledge of our governmental system from immigrants seeking citizenship than we do from our own citizens.
Write your elected officials. But really take the time to write. Post card mailings and cut-and-paste emails do not carry as much weight as a personal letter. The same hold true for letters and calls to local Congressional offices rather than to their Washington DC offices.
Cultivate and educate Congressional staffers. Your representative may meet with you but he or she has a busy schedule and must be conversant with an enormous range of issues. Congressional representatives rely on their staff to analyze issues and propose legislative positions. Put your money where your mouth is.
Donate to organizations that are actively working for the change you support. Volunteer your time if you can. Stop spreading the fear. You’re wasting your time retweeting or Facebook posting bad information. If you must do so, read the actual article and not just the headline before posting. Do some fact checking on your own.
So to my many friends who are experiencing stress over the recent political change, take a deep breath and get a little perspective. This is not the end of the world. This too shall pass.