What can we do in the face of political despair?

It’s voting day in the US.

My state is due to elect, in a landslide, a governor so personally and politically disgusting that I can’t imagine how even his own party likes him.

The country is expected to elect, in various landslides, many people who are somewhat similar.

The reason? People don’t think. Or, more precisely, people are made not to think by the various forces in their lives. Sloppy journalism. Sensationalist, inaccurate Facebook shares. The ill-formed opinions of others, spread like wildfire. Who can blame them, really? Thinking about big issues is hard, unsatisfying, unsettling work. Thinking is uncomfortable, and our educational system hardly prepares us to handle it.

More importantly, though, people are afraid. They are afraid that there isn’t enough to go around. Afraid that the world will fall apart, if we don’t hold it together with all our might. Afraid of “the enemy,” without realizing that the enemy is a straw man, not an enemy at all.

It’s easy to despair. Most of my friends will spend the next two weeks reading (and obsessively posting to Facebook) about all of the “horrible” candidates that have been elected to various positions. We will expend our energy wailing and gnashing our teeth, fighting ferociously with our own friends and family.

STOP.

Consider instead that the point is to better the world. Is delivering the perfect sarcastic rebuttal to Uncle Joe’s position on gun control worth  adding to the sum total of human unhappiness? I doubt it.

Don’t wallow in misery.

Do something instead. Think about your desired outcome for the world, and work toward that, even if only in your smallest personal actions.

Foster genuine kindness. Let people have a voice, even if you don’t like what they say. Align your own habits better with your values. Research and support ethical charitable organizations who can enact your values on a larger scale. Reconsider personal habits of consumption to make more room for others. Meditate on peace and love, and what those things really mean in this world. Be gentle with people who are so very afraid.