10 Ways to Impact Culture that Don’t Involve Presidential Politics

10 Ways to Impact Culture that Don’t Involve Presidential Politics June 29, 2016

Trump v. Clinton Got You Down? Here are 10 things you could do right now to have a significant impact on the culture around you, and none of them involve presidential politics.

1. Have your neighbors over for dinner
If there is any hope that our global society will learn to live together in mutual respect and love, it will start at the neighborhood level. Learning that more unites us than divides us takes intentionality and time. So, sponsor a potluck in your neighborhood or building one night a month. Share a meal with people you don’t know very well. Invite those who are not like you—of a different race, religion, or nationality. Be more curious. Hold conversations, not in order to pass judgment or set each other straight, but to learn about and appreciate each other. It take practice to make space for those who are different from us without needing to change, condemn, or set them straight.

2. Pick someone to forgive
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Un-forgiveness is powerful, too. What’s the old proverb? Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Who do you need to forgive? Picture yourself walking down a long hallway with a door at each end. You are a few steps into your walk through when the door at the other end opens and a person heads your way. Who do you least want that person to be? That’s how you decide who you really need to forgive. BTW, if you are reading this and I’ve done you wrong or you are angry with me, maybe you could pick me as your person to forgive? I promise you that I’ll be so very grateful.

3. Stop watching cable news
24-hour cable news networks such as Fox News, MSNBC, & CNN are completely toxic to your soul. These networks foment and prey upon nothing more than fear and blaming. They sensationalize stories and distort reality in order to gain viewership for their political blood-sport and social negativity. Watching is like purchasing a ticket to the Roman Coliseum. These programs train us to demonize and despise. These networks need us to be all riled up because they feed off ratings, and riled up people watch. Cable news channels don’t care if they help to destroy our society as long as they are making money. Even in small doses, that sort of imbalanced, distorted thinking will poison our minds. Check out of it. Refuse to watch and you’ll have a much happier life.

4. Be generous
Find non-profit organizations that are doing really good work in your community and support them with your time and money. Look for organizations that are not attached to a political agenda. Try to find something that you genuinely care about, something you want to spend time on because it’s important to you—homelessness, unwed mothers, immigration reform, or the like. So much of the boots-on-the-ground goodness that is pushing back the darkness in our world comes at the local not-for-profit level. Find a place to engage and give it your best.

5. Get off Facebook
I know this will be unpopular, but I’m sticking to it. Facebook is not a net-gain for our society. It’s become the primary theater for histrionics and social carping, not to mention envy, self-loathing, and wasting mountains of time. As a means for posting family updates and vacation photos Facebook is a fine platform. As a means for encouraging genuine dialogue on complex issues between opposing points of view (especially politics), it is a disaster. Is the cost worth the benefit? I don’t think so. Every Facebook user should commit to taking long breaks—two to four weeks at a time, several times a year—during which they fast from the platform. Many of us need to delete our accounts and be done with it. In most cases, doing so would enhance the person’s quality of life.

6. Exercise
There is literally no scenario that involves you being a happy and healthy person that does not involve some sort of healthy physical exercise. Everything you do involves your body. Every single interaction you have with this world of people, places, things, and ideas happens in and through your body. When your body gives out, you give out. You have to take care of it. Eat right. Exercise. Stay active. Get off the couch and begin some sort of habitual workout schedule.

7. Chase emotional health
Most people I meet who are struggling make the same mistake. They are seeking political or spiritual solutions to emotional and relational problems. Emotional problems have emotional solutions. Genuine relational wholeness only comes when mature adults face their brokenness in order to change and grow. For many of us, this will require some sort of weekly practice of spiritual direction or psychotherapy. If you have been in emotional or relational distress for more than six months, then find yourself a counselor. Go every week for six months before you even begin to evaluate whether or not it’s a worthy practice.

8. Join a small church and live in fidelity
There is no version of healthy that does not involve learning to live in fidelity to a small community of people over long periods of time. With our culture’s constant mobility, finding rootedness and stability is a challenge. How can you do it? Join a small faith community and worship with them every single week. Don’t let anything deter you from that commitment—not kids sports, not grown children who join a nearby congregation, not disappointment with the pastor, not conflict with other members, not the quest for doctrinal purity, not the need to be part of a winning team, not anything. My one caveat is this: don’t join a church that seems intent on being upwardly mobile, or one that treats you like a customer to which they want to provide religious goods and services. Find a small congregation and give the next three decades of your life to living in fidelity to these people.

9. Read a good book
I have a bee in my bonnet about this… You know how many weeks books by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity spend atop the best seller lists? It’s pathetic! We’ve got to start reading good books again, people. By good I mean almost anything not written by TV personalities. O’Reilly is a terrible historian and Sean Hannity doesn’t even have a college degree for Pete’s sake. You want politics? Read Lord of the Flies, and you’ll know a lot more about the American political scene. You want to understand the dangers of income inequality? Read Dickens. You want to learn to be a better parent? Read Huck Finn, Call of the Wild, or The Wind in the Willows. You want to explore race? Read To Kill a Mockingbird. You want to grow as a human being, read classic fiction. I’m talking Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Twain. Popular fiction and nonfiction alike have so much going for them. Stay away from the ideologues and right wing nut jobs, and read, read, read.

10. Recycle everything you can

It could be that one of the most important aspects of your everyday life, the one that will matter the most and the longest, involves your relationship to consumer goods. Specifically, I’m talking about how much of what you consume ends up in a landfill v. a recycling center. If you are able to think: yeah, I throw away most of my plastic instead of recycling it; this is bad, but these chickens won’t come home to roost until the people I know and love are long gone. This is problematic on so many levels. Mostly it succeeds in making you a more selfish person. So do yourself and those you love a favor. Recycle everything you can. Use less gasoline. Support clean energy, and maybe your grandchildren will be able to take a deep breath without coughing when they reach your age.

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  • scott stone

    Already adopted some of the points but love all 10. I have a list that I read every morning and 2 tasks on it are to make a new friend and be kind to a stranger. Sometimes they become one.

  • Oraclehon

    I agree with most of the plan….I am inviting a couple with much different political views on the Fourth of July…., but social media can be useful in getting a broader view exposed to others. If a person is civil and uses facts and statistics to get information out there, for instance, it may open minds and impact someone’s perspective in a positive way.

  • CroneEver

    I love ALL of these, especially #3. I’ve found that the people I know who are the most frightened are the ones who watch cable news ALL THE TIME. And they keep watching because (1) cable news is, apparently, addictive; (2) fear and its adrenaline rush is definitely addictive; (3) they’re afraid of NOT knowing what’s going on; (4) they’re certain that this is the only way they’re going to get “The Truth”.

  • Great article. Some convicting. Agree with most all, with one caveat, #8. Some churches are too small, too family dominated, and too toxic.

  • DK13

    these are good ideas, thanks. but given that your audience almost certainly leans left politically, your examples in #9 are bias-confirming and thus counterproductive to your overall argument.

    • John Williams

      What? Classic literature leans left?

  • Robin Warchol

    I normally don’t venture into the progressive channel too much but the title caught my eye and wanted to say thanks, I basically agreed with every one of your points, all of them were challenging. You have some great ideas about reading classic books as well, the ones that will again challenge you. About Facebook, I think if one just keeps their list to people they actually know or knew and not use it to promote controversial ideas but personal news and photos, I think one would view Facebook as a great communication tool. That probably is hard to do when one is a public figure like yourself and then people use Facebook to contact you or talk to you about issues.

  • Prescott

    I came here a little suspicious of whether this would be good counsel. It was. All of it.

  • Bestla’s Dottir

    My loves and I wonder out loud: Why would anyone need mass surveillance in everyones’ lifes? Why are people being killed? Why are children being raped through bullying? And why so many things in practically every continent (not merely countries) are so triggered with this instinct of violent survival?. Think on it Congress, you are not Progress if you keep living from this point of view where: Barely anyone has clean food, clean water, clean necessities, clean homes but hoards of gates of secrets. What is the point of the secrecy truly? And what is the origin of the source of this secrecy truly-er? Because this sounds like your church and state still obviously merged together and dictated as the only lawful religion possible for every country. We need more than Representives and Senators, we need more than a president. On behalf of everyone one I say this: What is the point and what after? is a form of a violent life hunger strike, perhaps an injury of some human and/or divine origin. Perhaps those human or divine beings had an instance like for instance seeing their own blood (the very gift of the Feminine origin of intellegence) and perhaps a form of her in their injury or injuries that startled them to such a measure perhaps assuming she is dead/ghost and taking on the scared starving single solo mode and thus caring it on in hate of life= the original feminine perfection perhaps blaming her/him for the injury when it was their consequence for not listening to the real depth of her wise healing gifts .. It’s not a video game at all, all forms of life, and this. I would rather talk with people about this, all countries’ ‘leaders’ who are of the same position of “dictatorship” of starvation and actually get down to the real problem. Stop starving yourselves and stop blaming us for your wounds. You were originally born perfect and later became hostile and starving when everything was born to be perfect and not an ascension of escapism from these wounds. Real healing. And real stewardessship healing the land= real responsibility since the very beginning. After all why do we have to keep paying for it in all varities, everyone is in the same length of starvation including those said and reported “rich, criminal, psycho and cruel”. They were innocent even as a perfect fetus at first and all the sudden they are raped to be these cruel beings. If the big bang bore the universe perfectly as a ecosystem of complete perfection: who messed up and is trying to destroy it. Is it real low vibrations and villians and heros at a war? Or is it a disguise of a ridiculous hunger strike of all life (where people are just waiting to die every moment of their lifes after they are raped of their original innocence?)? What is the origin of this life rape? and too why the heck is still happening like a life tradition when that is not life! It was not original chaos and war and hate. It’s a recklessness to run away from real responsibility. Real care. No more games and no more violence. No more of this criminal behavior tradition. The system needs to go for real sustaining traditions can return home again and not the system to replace and fix itself as the next trend of date rape in every persons’ lifes and families in education, food, water, and spirituality together. And not landmarking it as the next line to commit life suicide in it. We were born from perfect ovaries, and eggs but this must end. The recklessness to kill anyone targetted as a ghost just because someone in so called authority thinks everyone is that. They do not know what real responsibility is. For they were not born to commit suicide nor inflict it on others! They were born to the real responsibility of living life correctly and devotely and not to run away. Because nothing did in the beginning. Enough of this. I would gladly like to have grove of peaches, real fruit groves for me and my family than commit to your suicide death wish to fix your tomb up fine starting with the regula of the original constitution of the Bill of Rights as your coffin lids. Or any one elses’ for that matter. We do not need more surveillance, we need real solution that no longer line the fake secrecy that everyone is afraid to face each other directly in the eyes and admit they are afraid to sleep at night and tell the truth they are afraid of all varities of what is deemed “life ghosts” (equaling the original responsibilities that existed prior to your births). When cannot you tell the truth about this and to all of us instead of cosplaying leadership and actually listen to the real origin of leadership and responsibility by listening to the real origin of correct mother and fatherhood. For how else were able and capable to have the consciousness to know about half the responsibility of being a real leader and how to fail at it or the consciousness and ability to respond and act?
    Cultivating the land, teaching people how to be real people and not a set up for insert this order of titles here. My love always ask this question: How do you do it not from this point of view advertised? But the point of view you’re taught when young. The set of skills and resources you had and have originally when you’re young that no one harmful can take and living them as a revolution of greater change. Good heartedly beyond edicate of racist remarks. Everyone is beyond a race. For live now. Live now those skills and resources. This is not a discussion at you. But with you and in encouragement that you can in the true belief in the original gifts you already had prior before any of the educational system gave you theirs