[ Continued from Part 1 ]
11. Be the Better You: Recognize your strengths
Recognize your own huge strengths.
Look, you’re one of the most intelligent, most creative, most powerful and dangerous animals on this planet. Act like it!
You and the people you choose to work with can come up with ideas and goals, you can work to make them happen. You can come up with crazy guerilla actions that spark the minds and hearts of every person in America. You can RESIST.
Trump wants to build a wall? What if you built a wall around Trump’s hotels – a wall of garbage, a graffiti wall, a wall of soiled diapers, a wall of noisy protestors? What if you made it so nobody wanted to stay there?
What if you organized a demonstration out front of his hotel, with everybody carrying signs that say
>>> Поздравляю, товарищ Трампа! <<<
(Congratulations, Comrade Trump!)
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re better educated than the average conservative. (Not because my writing is so wonderfully highbrow, but because you’re, you know, READING.)
But you also probably suffer from the sort of thoughtfulness that makes you less practical, more apt to be distracted, while they’re busy taking action.
You have to be the better you, the stronger you, that you can be. Part of that is that you have to stop believing you’re a victim. You have lived in a time where you’ve had the luxury of being weak and fragile, but that time is over. If you still think you need trigger warnings and safe spaces, run home to your pillow fort, little dumpling, because you’re a dead weight, a liability, on everybody around you.
12. Be the Better You: Facts Over Feelings
Engage with the facts before you engage with your emotions.
People on the extreme right are easily subject to manipulation through levers of fear, patriotism, or religion. If you tell them a lie but couch it in patriotic terms (Support The Troops!!!), or tell them there is some plot against them, or that this is a test of faith, some significant number of them will not only leap to believe it, they will see any refuting evidence as part of a secret plot.
But you have to get the facts right before your feelings come into it. If your facts are wrong, your conclusions cannot be right, and your feelings about the thing, whatever they are, are misplaced. Worse, once you have any sort of strong feeling about something, every fact or non-fact that comes after will be assessed through the filter of that emotion.
I’ve been in many arguments online where someone misstated one or more facts, but refused to hear any countervailing evidence, even when I cited multiple sources. “No, I’m not wrong, all those sources are lies, and you only cite them because you want to destroy America. Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, Michelle is a tranny dyke, and their kids are adopted ghetto b*tches who smoke crack in the White House.”
Paranoid-afraid and angry, nothing I said could get through to them. They didn’t want to hear it.
The thing is, the bit about “getting your facts right before your feelings come into it” applies just as much to people on the left.
Oh, but you’re not subject to emotional manipulation, right? You don’t feel that sort of fear or anger, you don’t experience that knee-jerk patriotic fervor.
Yeah, hold off on the smug certainty, Reason Boy. You are every bit as easy to manipulate, every bit as resistant to counter-arguments. It’s just that your levers are different.
For lefties, one of the biggest levers is compassion. Tell them something is an attack on minorities, the homeless, transgenders, women, or hell, pit bulls, and they will buy into it with their weight in diamonds.
I’ve gotten into discussions with liberals that just left me gasping. Say ANYTHING they don’t already believe, disagree with a single point of a leftist compassion argument, and they will attack you in a howling mob, name-calling like it was the world Ad Hominem finals and they were going for the gold. “Why do you HAAAATE the poor homeless?? Why do you HAAAATE the poor pitbulls?? OMG, you’re HITLER!!”
Speaking of which, if someone states a fact, even if it is/was Hitler, the important thing for a REASONING BEING is the fact, not the identity of the speaker. No amount of name-calling changes the facts. It only blinds you to things you just might need to hear.
Never doubt that there are people out there who profit from working you. Here’s something I figured out some years back:
Under the lash of strong emotions,
human beings become less intelligent.
Angry? Stupid. Afraid? Stupid. Infatuated? REALLY stupid. Yeah, you.
And the less intelligent you are, the more you miss of what “they” are doing. Keeping you dumbed down, unable to think clearly or make plans to resist, is a blue chip investment for anyone who wants to run things.
Oh, you think they wouldn’t do that? That’s just a conspiracy theory? That nobody is that dishonest, that wicked, that organized? You keep believing that, kid — your simple faith and trust is just cute as hell.
But here in the real world, we have fellow citizens who have overthrown COUNTRIES with just such tools. Selling you a deadly long-term poison or getting you to vote for their guy over your guy is small change in comparison.
13. Be the Better You: Get and Stay Fit
How will you feel someday if your granddaughter is drowning in a pool and you’re the only person there who might save her, but you don’t know how to swim? Riiiight.
This is not just about swimming. It’s about physical strength, about cardiovascular fitness, about the sort of vibrant health that makes you not just stronger but smarter as well.
This is always overlooked in political activism, but it’s damned important.
The thing is, it’s not just yourself you have to be strong for – it’s for all those people you love. Think about that the next time someone tries to tell you you’re fragile and weak and helpless.
Remember those pictures you used to see of the guy holding out his pants in front, showing how much weight he lost? Facebook no longer allows such pictures to be posted. The image of fitness, rather than an inspiration and a goal, is now some sort of horrific attack. Because OMG FAT SHAMING!!! To which I say: Bloodyhelljeezusgoddamshit!
By contrast, I had a 60-year-old friend stagger through a quarter-mile of snow carrying a bloody 80-pound dog. The thing is, it was MY dog. They’d gone for a hike in a snowy park, and the dog ripped open his chest and belly on a hidden metal stake. Because my friend was in good shape, I got another 6 good years with my beloved four-legger.
I suggest we all remember the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”
This is not just about physical strength, either. It’s about mental toughness as well. And again, not just for you. For your granddaughter. For your neighbors. For everybody around you threatened by this ugly new situation.
Make a conscious decision to be tougher. You don’t have to be a victim. You can be a warrior, a knight in defense of all things good.
14. Strategy One: Strategy Itself
From Wikipedia: “STRATEGY is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.”
“Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources).”
Here’s why I mention it: A lot of people on the right are ex-military. Who do you think trains in effectively mobilizing limited resources to achieve goals under conditions of uncertainty? Riiiight.
The left, meanwhile, untrained, even unaware, of the concept of strategy, attacks every issue as if nothing was connected to anything else.
Most of us on the left remain convinced simple honesty and good will will win out in every situation. But here’s the thing: It won’t. You have black neighbors who have lived in simple honesty and good will every goddam day of their lives, and they still have to be afraid – in their own country, their own hometown, their own neighborhood – that they or their kids will be shot down.
To bring home to you the importance of strategy, here’s another ‘magic’ metaphor:
Picture yourself on stage in a contest with 20 professional stage magicians. People skilled in misdirection, sleight of hand, expert manipulation of cards, polished handling of the audience. First off, do you even know any magic tricks? Say you know one lame-ass trick, something that wows the 6-year-old nieces and nephews … how do you think you’ll do against the pros? They won’t even laugh at you. They will IGNORE you. If they notice you at all, they’ll be embarrassed for you.
As for the people we’re facing, they are equally advanced professionals. They have experts in advertising, in business, in emotional manipulation, in military and political tactics. They have multi-billion-dollar corporations on their team. They get together in groups and plan out years-long strategies to control the military, the media, international trade, state and local offices, hell, even your local cops. They also have money, vaults full of it.
If you persist as a hopeful amateur, ganged up with other hopeful amateurs to pursue the Issue of the Day, they will eat you a-fucking-live. You have to stop thinking each issue is a separate issue, that each election is a separate election, that each battle is the main battle and nothing of the future matters.
You have to stop REacting and start PROacting, thinking in decades rather than days or weeks. Get together with others, decide what sort of future you want – 10 years from now, 25 years from now, 100 years from now – and start working on THAT.
Because you can bet your ass THEY have such plans.
15. Strategy Two: Decide Who You Are
Are you a Bible-believing Christian first, a Constitution-cherishing American second? In other words, are you a Christian-American rather than an American Christian? It’s an important question, and one which Christians in America frequently – in my view – get wrong.
Likewise, are you a first and foremost a feminist-American, a black-American, an LBGT-American, a transgender-American?
Fine, fight your little fight. But prepare to lose.There is a sociocultural and governmental substrate on top of which Black Lives Matter and feminism and all this other stuff takes place.
Picture us playing tennis in a huge indoor enclosure with dozens of separate courts. You’re over there fighting your battle, I’m over here fighting mine, a dozen other games are going on elsewhere. But meanwhile, the building itself is under threat by a developer who wants to raze it and build condos.
How much does it profit you, how much does it profit any of us, to concentrate exclusively on our individual games? Without the building, there is no game.
In this moment, we’re not feminists. We’re not Black Lives Matter activists. We’re not defending the rights of the poor Muslims, or spilling out our hearts over homeless kitties.
What we’re defending today, right here and now, is the very ground on which all these campaigns are conducted. The ground on which they CAN BE conducted with any chance of success.
And news flash, kids, we just lost one hella big battle. Maybe even the war.
This bit here and now, THIS part, is going to be the heyday of big banks, of international corporations, of oil companies, of mercenaries, of secret overseas bank accounts, of tax avoidance, of surveillance, of openly flouting American law and custom and decency. If you thought it was bad before, with the GOP now in control of America, the barn door is open and the horses are loose.
We people of compassion and kindness – and hell, believers in democracy – have to be just as real. Don’t go imagining that airy-fairy happy shit is just going to automatically happen while you sit back and mellow out. You have to take the world in your hands and MAKE good things happen.
16. Strategy Three: Plan For Dogs in the Manger and False Flags
Do you know that first phrase? —A dog doesn’t eat hay, but he can lie in the feed trough and keep all the other animals away from it, snapping and snarling, protecting his turf, so that the animals who do eat hay can’t get to it. Ha-ha, funny, right? But not to THEM.
So you’re out on the lines with Occupy Wall Street, holding up your sign and feeling good about what you’re doing. If only that damned drum circle would stop, you could actually make your points with the news camera. But the drum circle doesn’t stop, hour after hour, day after day, until you can’t hear yourself think.
But what are you going to say? It’s a public space, right? And everybody has a right to protest in their own way.
Dog in the manger: A thousand dollars says one or more of the people on the drum circle were FBI plants. One or more of the other sorts of activists there to scream and wave signs –Indians! Marijuana activists! – were FBI plants. By the second day, sincere others would show up and the FBI guys could step back and watch the confused, milling free-for-all.
Eventually even the news media – the few who showed up – would be unable to see any point to the whole thing. Dog in the manger: The FBI people weren’t there with any message, but they could keep the Occupy movement from getting their message out.
False flag: Say you’re out in front of City Hall, peacefully demonstrating for more funding for the local library, and someone carrying a ‘Fund Our Library Now!’ poster throws a Molotov cocktail through the window into the mayor’s office and then runs off and vanishes. Who do you think will get blamed? You and your whole group. Hello media shitstorm, bye-bye library funding.
Think stuff like that doesn’t happen? Ha-bloody-ha.
And if you don’t believe someone would do something like that, ask yourself this: Why would they NOT? Because they’re good and honest? Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt.
Expect this stuff. In every major protest movement, especially those that look like they have some chance of success, some of the people around you are going to be government agents. If you don’t believe that, bless your simple little heart, and I hope you have a grownup taking care of you.
But whether it’s FBI agents infiltrating the movement or just plain idiots squealing “No, no, this is all about ME and MY issue!”, there are going to be counter-forces WITHIN your movement. Accidentally or deliberately, they will obstruct, distract, confuse and misinform you and others.
Find a way to deal with it. Press on.
17. Strategy Four: Venn Your Enemies
There really are enemies out there.
But not everybody who fails to agree with you on every single point is simply an enemy.
You know Venn diagrams? – those overlapping circles that show shared and unshared areas?
The Venn diagram comparing religious convictions of me and Johnny Christboy would show very little overlap. His ardent Christianity and my ardent atheism would be mutually exclusive. But the diagram of our political convictions would probably overlap quite a bit.
Well, if he was a conservative Christian of the nutty vicious sort, the overlap would be small. But if he was one of those generous, loving religious people, the shared area of his circle and mine would take up most of them.
After crossing paths with some online feminists of the craziest, meanest goddam sort, I realized I could never call myself a feminist. But our Venn diagrams regarding the rights of women, their safety and choice and equality, would overlap almost completely. The non-overlapping parts would be those bits where they insisted we live in Rape Culture, that every problem in the world is because of men, that women have NO advantages over men, and that if you disagree with any of those points, it’s because you hate women.
(Fair warning: If you think you need to start a war here over this last paragraph, you might as well fuck off now and save yourself the effort.)
I disliked former President Nixon with a deep passion over the Vietnam War, but I give him props for his environmental achievements. And I would have worked with him, gladly, on environmental issues.
I think John McCain is a complete fool for giving us the stinking dumpster fire which is Sarah Palin, but I’m behind him 100 percent in the investigation of Russian hacking of our election. (If he’s not just doing it to shut down any real investigation, that is.)
The point here is that you can work with people on one subject while disagreeing with them on another. That you shouldn’t tune out anybody completely and forever. You may find you someday need them.
The point is also: Stop attacking allies. Focus on your samenesses and common goals – the large area of overlap – rather than your differences.
18. Strategy Five: Get Personal
The real stuff happens offline. The real stuff happens in person.
I used to go to City Council meetings. At every meeting, on every issue, someone would get up and say something they wanted councilmembers to hear. Their heartfelt conclusions about the issue. How it would affect them. Why they thought it was good, or bad. And in not one of those meetings did I get the feeling that input affected the councilmembers’ decisions.
They’d made up their minds BEFORE the meeting, in discussions with friends and cronies, people they met on the golf course, or in the course of their daily business. A lot of that stuff wasn’t even issue-specific – it was a mass of people around them CREATING A REALITY. “This town has to grow!” “We need law and order!” “If we don’t get that new golf course approved, that new casino approved, that new ski resort approved, tourism will dry up and we’ll all be out of jobs!”
You have to help create that reality. Turn off the computer, get out of your chair, and go to the city or county legislative meetings. Shake hands. Smile. Compliment.
Meet your elected officials personally. Meet the local cops. Meet the people at City Hall, and the County Offices. Make friends with them. Invite them for a hike, or for lunch. Ask them to MC your Boy Scout barbecue. Express an interest in their families, and their health. Care about them. But also, show them your life, help them know you as a person. And talk to them about the issues you care about.
(One question *I* would like to ask every state and local cop, and every member of the military, is “If you were given an order to fire on unarmed American civilians, would you do it?” Not only is it something I would like to know, I think it’s something THEY need to know, well in advance of such an order.)
Bear in mind they’re all human. If you’re in their faces carping at them every day, they’re not going to take that well. The goal is friendly influence. If you can get them sounding YOU out about issues, you’ll know they respect your input.
Two more things.
First: Infiltrate. Don’t assume every person working in City Hall, or the Governor’s office, is in full agreement with everything that gets done there. Hell, Donald Trump’s White House is going to be riddled with people he would consider traitors, but who are actually patriots. If you know any of these people, if you can meet them, let them know you’d like to help them in any way you can – such as getting word out without attribution.
Second: Make a point of meeting your local investigative news reporters. Find the guy or gal who’s been there 30 years and make friends. Invite them to the park for a barbecue, treat them to sushi or a shot of single malt. Give them whatever information you have on local subjects, but also feel them out about what they know. Gain their trust and never, never betray it.
19. Prepare For The Worst
“It’s not what happens, it’s how you react to it.” ~ Jim Rohn
This is an especially bad time to have Trump at the helm. Even aside from the crap he and the GOP are going to pull – and it’s going to be bad – there are forces in the world that don’t augur well for civilization itself, even more than for the United States of America.
Climate change. Peak oil. Overpopulation. Water shortages. Superbugs. Extinctions.
Just when we need good leaders, we have the worst. And we have a media already extremely comfortable with manipulating rather than informing viewers.
We’re going to have to take care of each other. That old lady next door. The nephew who needs money for college. That black neighbor who just moved in. The woman down the hall whose boyfriend beats her. The neighborhood itself, against the drug dealers and thugs.
We’re also going to have to go to the mattresses with the takers and liars.
Imagine if, rather than coming after your Social Security and health insurance, they tried to pass a law that would take guns away from 50 million Americans. Here’s the mindset they’d meet up with: “Yeah, you fuckers are about to learn some whole new lessons in respect.”
The fact is, most members of Congress would never even consider such a law. Because they know that violence would follow, and not a little bit of it. Somewhere out there is someone who would just kill them.
The demographic of retired people, those of us on SS or Medicare, all the vulnerables and the people who care about them, are going to have to figure out where and how to draw our own line.
Speaking of which …
20. Carry a Goddam Flag / Buy a Fucking Gun
Carry a goddam flag. Stop ceding the image of patriotism to the right wing freaks.
Get EVERYONE on your team, at every protest action, to carry American flags. If you’re a military veteran, wear something conspicuous to show that.
Look, we’re not pot-smoking hippies selling peace and love. We’re Americans, and we’re faced with, at the very least, a chute full of crap flowing our way. At worst, we’re facing the end of the American experiment of democracy.
Carry a flag, carry two flags, and wave them like your life depended on it. Because it just might.
Buy a fucking gun. Buy a lot of fucking guns.
Okay, sure, you “don’t like” guns. Fine. But visualize the difference between the Black Rock protestors and the gunny types that took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
The unarmed protestors at Black Rock got police dogs, paramilitary cops, armored vehicles, water cannons and other “non-lethal” weapons fired at them.
The Malheur occupiers were openly breaking federal law, but authorities treated them like it was prom night and they were a bunch of Disney princesses. Hell, the bastards drew down on federal officials with assault rifles, and most of them just walked away.
And did you notice when things changed at Black Rock? When the cops stood down and a truce was declared? THE DAY AFTER veterans showed up and joined in. Why? Because you can shoot water cannons at a bunch of lame-ass Indians in winter, but you don’t dare do that to military veterans. Because 1) it would be really bad publicity, but 2) you don’t screw around with men you already know are willing to go to war.
If you think violence never solved anything, remind yourself of who occupies North America today. Hint: It’s not hundreds of tribes of Native Americans. It’s the descendants of people who were capable of advanced forms of violence.
If every Jew in pre-WWII Germany had a rifle or handgun and the will to use it, you think things would have gotten to the point they did? No way. But take note of how that particular part of history actually was ended – through the assistance of people who were equipped, trained and willing to meet violence and guns with even greater violence, even bigger guns.
There are more of us than there are of them. Really consider that fact.
If guns are legal in your jurisdiction, buy one, get your open carry permit or whatever, and carry the goddam thing to every public event. Learn to use it. Take a firearms safety course. Become a regular at the local firing range. Organize with friends for target practice. Do it.
The alternative is to practice bending over until you can grab your ankles quickly and efficiently when so ordered.
(And yes, if you have kids in the house, don’t be an idiot with the guns. Take every necessary precaution.)
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