Something my dad taught and continues to remind me of everyday is to, “Stay linear.” This is applicable in many situations, such as staying focused in school, pushing hard when job hunting, achieving any goal, or driving to make any dream a reality.
Lately, I think about this quite often in the realm of social justice. People across all socio-political identities, especially today, find themselves enthralled in battles to protect the right to their body, right to use a restroom, right to believe in their chosen higher power, right to live in this country, right to same-sex equality, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This list never ends! How do we stay focused? How do we maintain our momentum? How do we stay focused, but also take time to rest and get back to life when we need to/want to?
We stay linear. So far, in 2017, I find myself fighting for every cause out there. The reality is that I am exhausted and kind of don’t want to give as much energy to one as perhaps another. Don’t get me wrong; I will stand side by side as an ally when push comes to shove. However, I realize that spreading myself too thin will not benefit anyone or the overall cause.
Ask yourself: what is your nonnegotiable? What one or two things are you unwilling to sacrifice? Rather than exhausting yourself, physically and emotionally, for every issue out there, what can you do to scale back (but not toss aside) your energy in some to channel it in some others? Unfortunately, the Post-Trump era is a dark time with so much uncertainty for so many communities in the United States. How can we stay linear and not lose sight of the issues that matter, while being consciences that what may matter for one may not equally as matter to another? Stay woke. Stay focused. Stay linear.
As a gay man, my first and foremost nonnegotiable issue is same-sex rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Why? Because, I AM A GAY MAN. That is my life and, without those rights, I’ll never be an equal citizen in this country.
That’s not to say that I careless about other issues dear to my heart (e.g., women’s rights to their bodies, ending politic brutality, #blacklivesmatter, immigration rights, Muslim rights, et cetera). However, I also know myself. Do I want to spend every weekend at a rally or march? No. Do I want to spend every waking hour researching every issue and corrupt figure the president is appointing? No. Do I find myself exhausted, physically and emotionally, from every effort? Yes. Does this lead me to, at times, wanting to throw in the towel? Yes. Do I sometimes want to selfishly live my life away from all this and be ignorant of it all? Yes.
I know I can’t give my everything to every issue, no matter how near and dear to my heart they are. However, I know that, by not spreading myself too thin, I can whole ass one thing rather than half ass many things. I know I can really make a difference by focusing my energy into a few causes, while still being alert and aware of the others. I’m not saying less is more; I’m saying that before you can organize with others, you need to organize yourself. This is a long road ahead of us, so what can we do to make the most of it?
If you’re someone fighting for women’s rights and regularly attend the marches, be sure to share on social media an article or two about what immigrants are facing. If you’re someone personally affected by police brutality, be sure to also donate what you can to Planned Parenthood. If you’re a gay man fearful of losing your same-sex rights, be sure support your local public school teachers and vote for initiatives that would protect them. It is not about trying to do it all, but making the most with what you have to offer.
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