“If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.” ~Prof. Greg Scott
“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” ~Charlie Chapman
Here we are, just after the official start of the holiday season.
It’s that time to be happy, and cheerful, and sing-songy and chipper.
Well, truth be told, the holiday season is tough for many of us even under better political circumstances.
But right now you might be like Amy Siskind (the curator of the most amazing Weekly List) who thought she was handling the current political climate fairly well … until she learned from her dentist that she had apparently been “screaming in her sleep.”
It’s a stressful time.
But that means it’s all the more important that we intentionally cultivate positivity and not let ourselves wallow in boundless anxiety.
Easy to say, but hard to do. I can relate.
But here’s something you can incorporate into your regular, everyday life that will make you more joyful and effective. (And you don’t need yoga pants to do it.)
I’m not kidding.
We are understandably deadly serious about what’s going on in our country. But humor is a powerful tool for self-care, and a fantastic weapon in its own right. So hear me out.
Let’s review what we’ve already talked about regarding the Resistance’s resilience and humor: people with higher levels of “coping humor” have greater resilience.
- In one study people with higher levels of coping humor “showed little or no increase in negative mood when their number of negative life events increased”.
- Another study showed that end-stage renal disease patients with a greater sense of humor had a 31% higher survival rate.
- And humor has been shown to alleviate tension and encourage social support – a double benefit of sorts.
So there are definite physical benefits to tickling your funny bone. But why does it work?
Well, humor – and having a sense of it – helps us to gain control over an otherwise uncontrollable situation. You might remember that American POWs used humor during the Vietnam War to rebel in ways no other POW group had ever done. Even when their physical situation was entirely out of their control, they took control over their reaction and perspective – and humor played a huge role in that.
In our political environment, it’s easy to feel like you have no control. In fact, my working theory is that our activist stress level increases as our feelings of powerlessness increase. So using humor to take mental control over our situation is not only refreshing; it’s a tool to combat the negative effects of this administration.
Having fun is subversive – and effective. “Authoritarianism is directly incompatible with collective joy; it demands fear, obedience, hierarchy and an obsession with security and preparation for war.”
Smiling in the face of tyranny and dancing in the streets to protest the assault on the First Amendment not only lift our spirits – they lift our message. Activists have long found ways to use humor to draw attention to important issues and to have a good giggle in the meantime. Hey, we’ve all seen the hilarious signs that fellow activists have held up at protests. Why? Because they make us laugh, and they make a point. (Plus, the press loves to cover them!)
So remember that it’s healthy to laugh, it’s good to take control over our lives through humor, and that having fun can be the best way to make our point.
So as you’re having get-togethers with fellow activists over the holiday season, inject a little humor into your party.
- Take a page from Cocktails for Survival (a stocking stuffer?) or Cocktails for Survival II – Surviving the Trumpocalypse and stir up a Mueller-Mulled Wine or an im-peach cocktail.
- Make it easy on yourselves and serve cheetos and chocolate cake.
- Or have a Trumped-up cookie exchange.
- Get out your holiday gear and go caroling with your fellow activists, changing the words of old holiday standards to fit your protest. (On that, check out the actions for this week!)
Let your imagination run wild.
But whether you’re at a party or all by yourself, try to find and create reasons to laugh about the terrible-awfuls that we face each day.
And don’t feel like you need to apologize for laughing, or that you’re not “doing it right” if you’re not scowling with clenched teeth and fists.
Because you’re not making light of our situation.
You’re taking control of it.
Now – let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes.
Action #1: If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet called your Senator today to ask him/her to vote against the tax bill, please – seriously – please get out your telephone.
The time to fight against this is quickly coming to a close, and we need the same crush of voices that we heard during the attempted repeal of the ACA to push it back. And I’m not seeing that energy.
So here’s a script you can use to voice your concern with your Senators. (It’s a choose your own adventure – so feel free to mix and match the bracketed phrases! Supporting information is in last week’s post.)
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask Senator ____ to vote against the tax bill. This bill will [require $25 million in Medicare cuts because of PAYGO] [increase taxes on those making less than $75k annually] [disproportionately benefit the wealthy donor class at the expense of the middle class that the Senator has pledged to protect] [benefit foreign investors more than it will benefit American families] [cause $410 billion in cuts to Medicare over the next decade] [cut Medicaid subsidies by $179 billion] [provide tax breaks for private aircraft while eliminating tax deductions for state and local income taxes] [continue the Senate’s terrible record of trying to ram unpopular and historic legislation through in a partisan process devoid of public hearings and comment]… Thanks for your time!
Action #2: Also on Tuesday, the Action Network is having a “Fighting for the Middle Class” Day of Action. Check out their site to find a protest near you!
Wednesday: Protest the #GOPTaxScam … and Go Caroling!
Remember what I said about using humor to make our point?
Well, MoveOn is way ahead of me, and has created a #GOPTaxScam Caroling event. Participants will carol in their local areas any day from Wednesday-Sunday.
Hmmm. Do you think anyone has an old Ebenezer Scrooge costume hanging around?
Head over to their website to find a local event (or create your own!).
Thursday: Support Net Neutrality
Net neutrality is under attack, and it’s important that we understand what it is and why maintaining it is so crucial.
Net neutrality is a set of rules that prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from restricting information by “halting, slowing, or otherwise tampering” with it. It’s not new – it’s actually an extension of “common carrier” laws that apply to telephone companies, highways, and canals.
Without net neutrality, ISPs could restrict the flow of information that comes across the internet – by creating faster lanes for those who pay more, for example. Or by slowing down other sites that don’t.
Comcast and other ISPs have said that the net neutrality rules really aren’t necessary because they wouldn’t violate neutrality principles anyhow.
Yesterday Comcast hinted that it was indeed planning to create paid “fast lanes.”
It’s really important that we let our elected officials know that we are counting on them to retain net neutrality.
Action #1: Call your Senators and ask them to support net neutrality, and explain why it’s important to you. The ACLU has provided some really helpful resources on this point – including a call number that will dial your Senator for you. Just follow the prompts and choose your Senator, then deliver your message.
Action #2: Attend a protest! There are protests across the nation scheduled for Thursday. Head over to this website, see if there’s a protest near you, and plan to show your support for net neutrality.
Friday: GOP, We See You. Stop Hurting Kids and Fund CHIP
We’ve talked about CHIP and its lack of funding for months now. Congress has stalled the funding for the bipartisan, successful Children’s Health Insurance Program for so long that in the next few weeks families will be getting notices that their children are going to lose their health insurance.
Some of these kids have complex medical needs. Some are going through chemo. For some children, losing insurance will have life-or-death consequences.
Meanwhile, our Senators are focused like lasers on giving their big donors a tax break.
We need to remind them that their constituents – and children – should be their priority.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because I’m really surprised that the funding for CHIP hasn’t been renewed. Children are at risk of losing their insurance – and some of those kids have complex medical needs, and losing insurance literally puts their lives at risk. I cannot believe more focus is not being put on this issue. I urge the Senator/Congressman/woman to do whatever he/she can do to move a clean CHIP funding bill forward.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.
If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two.
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