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Balancing Activism with Self-Care

7:22 am EEST (GMT+3). This is the June 14 2020 daily proof of life post. I’m feeling much better today, having done a slow, mindful withdraw from the fire hose of horror that is social media and the news. So I want to talk a little bit about balancing activism with self-care.

When the world is in turmoil, I want to be informed. Like, actually informed. I have this strange bias toward facts, hard data, and reliable sources. Even though it’s trendy to blindly accept conspiracy theories, no matter how outlandish they seem, I’m just not that guy. It’s why I don’t seem to fit in with people my own age.

The thing is, sometimes being informed doesn’t matter. I’m not saying accept partisan rhetoric and nonsense. What I mean is, focus on actionable information. For example, I pay attention to the number of COVID-19 cases in Keski-Suomi, and in Jyväskylä. I live here, so that’s helpful. Knowing outbreak status allows me to make good decisions. Looking at the pandemic response in America is not news I can use.

Neither is hearing the latest hateful babble spewing forth from Dump Truck’s piehole. I already know he’s bigoted and ignorant. Daily confirmation of that well-established fact is not required.

I cling to the Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. There’s no point in beating myself up because I can’t afford to donate to every cause I’d like to. The nearest protests are hours away, and it seems more practical to donate the price of a ticket than to spend hours on a train so I can be another body in the throng.

Finally, do good deeds because they’re the right thing to do, not for clout or praise or other rewards. If you’re doing as much as you can but worry that it’s not enough, keeping your activism private take a lot of pressure off. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Kindness is not a competition. If you’re worried about what people will think, you’re worried about the wrong people, or at least you’re worried about them for the wrong reasons.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, Matthew 6: 1-4 offers some pretty sound advice about that. I’ll throw Luke 21: 1-4 in there for good measure. I think that sometimes the stress we feel has less to do with the actual circumstances than the guilt that we’re not able to do more. We need to let go of that, keep on living life, and accept that as long as we’re doing the best we can it will be enough.

Balancing Activism with Self-Care

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