I used to be a news junkie. I have always been involved in activism and have degrees in political science, public policy administration and community planning. These days though news is breaking so quickly, 24/7, it feels impossible to keep up. And almost every new story brings a new sense of outrage. A few weeks into the new administration and I found myself having to totally withdraw from the news cycle just for my own sanity.
Then I read an article over at Medium in which attorney Mirah Curzer suggests a few tactics for staying engaged with social issues without losing your mind. Curzer suggests:
You can’t show up to every march and donate to every cause...If you want to be effective on anything, pick an issue or two that matter most to you and fight for them...Important caveat: I’m not saying we collectively should pick a few issues and let everything else fall by the wayside...This is advice to individuals, not the party or the movement as a whole.
It’s also not to say other issues are less important or that you should turn a blind eye to them. Curzer’s point is that, just like anything else, too many options can lead to analysis paralysis. As she puts it, “Sure, retweet and share on Facebook about your peripheral issues, but focus your real energy on the things you care about most.”
With this is mind I decided to focus my energies and passion on the one issue that has always been near and dear to me - the environment.
While I was working I had daily opportunities to protect open space and farmland from development. I wrote local laws to protect streams and wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas. Now retired, I need to find more ways to resist the and mitigate the impact of this administration's desire to eliminate environmental regulations.
I used to live in the New York metropolitan area and until I saw this graphic I didn’t remember that we used to receive daily air quality reports as routinely as we got the weather.
I am fortunate to live in a state where environmental regulations are now strong and my representatives almost always vote the way I think they should. I do not need to spend my time writing and calling them, although I do occasionally send them a “thank you”. So I will be finding more ways to reduce my own environmental impact, donating to and volunteering for environmental causes, and probably harassing representatives from other states.
And I will be spending a lot of time outside enjoying the natural landscape, not only because there is a much needed restorative aspect to that, but also because I want to appreciate nature as much as possible. It may not be here for the next generation.
If you get a chance, head over to Curzer’s post at the link below—the full post is definitely worth the read. Then go pick your passion.