What to Do If You’re Despairing About Current Politics

So I was feeling very depressed about what’s going on in the world right now, as a liberal and also as a human being.  Tonight, out of desperation, I texted and then called my conservative parents on the phone.  I guess you always turn to your parents when you really need something, and I asked them this:

What did you do to cope when you felt Obama’s policies were horrible but you couldn’t do anything about it?

And actually?  I got a really great answer, and I learned a lot of things.

First, I dare you to do this: There are nice, reasonable conservatives, my parents among them.  Go talk to one of them, frankly, about politics.  Don’t use rude or divisive language, but do state your opinions, and let them state theirs.  Amazingly?

You’ll feel a lot better.

Just the idea that we can still have reasonable political conversations in this country gave me so much hope.  They didn’t agree with everything Trump’s doing either.  They agree that many Mexican immigrants are perfectly nice people, and they think the tariffs against Mexico are a stupid idea – the cost would just go back to the taxpayers.

We didn’t agree on a lot of issues, but we had a dialogue.  An open, polite, honest dialogue.  And just that made me feel a lot better.  They said they were always open to talk if I ever needed to.

They also gave me some very good advice, based on their experiences under the Obama administration: Don’t dwell.

It’s important to keep aware, yes.  But make politics a small yet regular part of your life.  Read the news, shake your head in disgust, do what you feel you can, and move on with your day.  Have a life.  Talk about other things.  These people who spend all their time on politics?  They’re not strapping themselves in for the long haul.  If this is all you ever talk about, you’re going to get exhausted very quickly.  You’ve got a long, difficult fight ahead of you, and you have to make time for real life.  Only do as much as you feel you emotionally can.  And if you need to?  Don’t touch the news for a couple of days.  Not forever, but just for a couple of days.  The world will not end.

Face up to the fact that sometimes, all you can do is peacefully protest, voice your opinions, and vote.  That’s all anyone’s ever been able to do.  Sometimes, as frustrating as it is, what can we do?  Not much.  But we’ve survived everything in the past.

I’m in college.  This is not my fight yet.  Someday, soon, it will be.  When I’m an adult with my own job and home, it will be.  But not yet.  I can’t take on all the problems of the world as a college student.  They seemed surprisingly accepting of the idea that after college, if I felt I could emotionally handle investing myself more in the political fight, I was welcome to do that.  But I have to take one day at a time, and only do as much as I emotionally and physically can.

I think that’s an important political life lesson.  Don’t dwell.  Don’t take all the problems of the world onto your shoulders.  Read the morning news, do what you can, and move on.

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