All of our lives changed on January 20, 2017 when Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the forty-fifth president of the United States of America… and I do mean ALL of our lives changed.

I have never been a political activist in all my 81 years on this earth, but the inauguration of a man to be our national leader who doesn’t seem to care if he appears like a blustering sexist fool, and who has never had a day’s worth of experience in government or governing woke me up. It changed my life.

It’s not like I haven’t done good things. I worked as a registered nurse for years helping the sick and injured. I raised children and brought foster kids to live in my home. I led a program that helped to settle more than a hundred Cambodian refugees after the Vietnam war, and I count many of them as my friends to this day. I still volunteer to sleep overnight at a shelter for homeless families, because it is devastating to parents to lose their jobs, be evicted, and have nowhere to go. It’s a small thing that I do in the program, but the efforts of the volunteers in total add up to a very big thing for these families who are given a chance to get back on their feet again.

Being an activist is different. I don’t get paid like lobbyists do. It’s a volunteer job. It’s a new experience and I’m just learning how it works. First, I joined a group of men and women here at the retirement home where I live who are alarmed at President Trump’s governmental appointees and the beliefs that they hold. This group calls itself The Evanston Pointers.  Because we are all in our seventies, eighties, nineties, and even over a hundred, most of us can’t join marches or even leave the campus much. Surprisingly though, most of us are computer literate, and we can sign Internet petitions, send emails (and snail-mail letters) to our congresspeople. We were part of the effort to flood the White House with postcards, all sent on March 15th. We meet together every Monday afternoon to plan our next strategy. Don’t count us out because we are old!

Members of The Evanston Pointers try very hard to not denigrate any individual but to deal strictly with the issues that concern us. There are many, so we work on those issues where we might have the most impact and to the ones about which each of us as individuals are most passionate.

Being a “joiner” is new to me. It makes me nervous just to think about having to sit in large groups for any length of time. Nevertheless, I went to the local Democratic Party’s rally and signed up for their Environmental Action Group. As these things so often go, this group has dwindled down to about five or six of us who attend regularly, but we are a mixed group of ages, races, backgrounds, and skills, and I am excited to be a part of it. Above all, I am so amazed by the young people in the group, their passion, their knowledge, and commitment. I feel alive when I am with them, and I’m so thankful that we are working together to save the environment upon which we all depend.

As I watch President Trump trying in his own way to learn to govern, I am hopeful that he will evolve as I am evolving and will learn to make common sense decisions for himself and our country rather than to depend on the ideologues that currently surround him with their seemingly entrenched narcissism. He is an intelligent man who doesn’t have to behave the way he has done in the past. He can be better than that.

2 thoughts on “Becoming an Activist

  1. I’m like you, I normally act in small ways around me every day to help my little corner of society be a little bit better. Now I’m signing petitions and taking action steps. I’m a bit of a political centrist compared to my liberal leaning friends. I like to point out when I hear people of the same view reinforcing each other, I don’t think that’s a good thing. I say see the world through the eyes of your opponent and understand the origins of their positions and search for places of common agreement. Today I think every person should ask, how did I contribute to this election result? Careless or trivializing rejection of an opponent’s view cements one’s confidence in one’s own identity at the price of terminating the bond that one has with one’s “opponent,” a bond that should be felt more greatly than one’s bond to the issues at hand. For the most part we all want the same things, and when that’s not the case, the challenge for all of us is to revisit basic societal concerns and try even harder to figure out how to live together in a way that gives a path for each of us to find our own happiness.

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    1. As a member of The Evanston Pointers, I find that it is difficult for some people to hold in their anger at what they see as injustice against themselves, and so they strike out verbally at the president, his political party, and the way he functions. Others of us in the Pointers, want to be welcoming to people of all beliefs, hoping that we can have a rational discussion of the issues facing us such as climate change, the national budget, and so on. We try very hard to stick to the issues rather than throwing personal daggers at the people involved in making decisions with which we don’t agree. We’re new at this, but we’re sticking with it so far, and only time can tell if our efforts help in some small way toward a more rational and compassionate and common-sense world.

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