The Five Minute Activist

If we learned nothing else over the last four or five years, it’s that we still have a lot of work to do to make the world a better place. However, if everyone does their part in making their voices heard, we’ll get the job done a lot faster.

The good news is that you can get it done in five-minute chunks. That’s less time than it takes to drink a tall latte. Try these:

  1. Call or email your elected reps. At the federal level, the Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Just follow the prompts to be connected to your senator’s or rep’s office. To email, visit https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or https://www.house.gov/representatives and find their cyber-addresses there. For the state officials, go to https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/.
  2. If you choose to stop buying products or shopping at certain stores due to their support of things detrimental to the common good, don’t stop there. Shoot them an email and let them know why you are choosing to do so. Recently, we dumped our warehouse club due to their support of a certain pillow manufacturer. They needed to know why we were cutting ties with them, and when they decide to cut ties with that vendor, we’ll talk.
  3. Going back to 1…if you call an elected representative’s office and they give you the runaround or treat you rudely, let others know of your experience. There’s always Twitter. One of your local friendly news people might want to know about the incident. I am blessed and lucky to have Lauren Underwood for my rep right now. Before her, however…there was Randy Hultgren, ignorer of emails and purveyor of rude staffers. Like one named Brian who hung up on me. I wasn’t the only one. I heard other stories of the office door being locked and knocks going unanswered while staffers peeked through gaps in the blinds. I regret not sharing my experience with media contacts. Make sure you document time and names.
  4. Find alternatives for entertainment: used book stores, streaming services, good ol’ PBS, independent musicians, so on. So much of what’s portrayed on network TV in the US is poor quality or over the top violent.
  5. Make choices to support the environment. Buy whatever organic products you can afford (I know, pricy, but even a single tomato can help). Eat a few meatless meals a week, or if you can’t do veg food, do some sustainably raised fish or poultry.
  6. Be mindful of small things like water and energy consumption.
  7. Smile. You’re taking action, even in small ways. Be proud. You’re a drop of water in a river, a wave, and you’re doing your part to wash everything clean.

Reality Check

We didn’t get that much snow last night. We did, however, get enough wind to make it look as if a blizzard had landed and knock out the power for an hour. The roads are still slick and I’m sure the curve on the road that we take to the big park and day care has been blown in by the unrelenting west wind and snow traversing the open fields.

I decided not to take Oakley to day care. First and foremost, because of the weather and that the secondary roads we take are not that well tended. When I took Oakley out for his first potty run this morning, the majority of the drivers I saw on the main road were picking their way to their destinations with caution even though the roads looked plowed. It’s important that he sees his friends and teachers, yes, but I am not willing to have us risk hitting that one patch of black ice or snow and ending up in the middle of a field or a ditch.

The second reason was his hips. I’d taken him on Tuesday. I’d been home long enough to eat a bowl of soup for lunch when his teacher asked me to come pick him up. He was acting unhappy and having problems sitting and lying down. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had diarrhea.

On my way.

What really amped up the suck factor was that this was the first session after Ms. L. had closed down day care for two weeks because two of the teachers had shown COVID symptoms. They’re both OK, thank the Mystery. I had hoped that the afternoon would give Oakley some fun and frolic and me some space to vacuum and tidy a bit, but that was not to be.

So I arrived. Oakley did not look as happy as he was when I had dropped him off. Ms. L. had videoed him struggling to sit.

I watched the video. I looked at Oakley as he leaned into my shins, his way of hugging me. And in the bright light of the reception area, I saw a lot of white hairs blending into the chestnut ones above his eyebrows.

Oh, my, God/dess.

Oakley is aging.

Just like me. It’s fine for me to get older, but Oakley, my companion, my guardian, my fur child? The bundle of legs and fur who’d put his head in the hollow of my neck and fallen into a snoring sleep on the way home from the adoption event where we’d found each other?

Yes. Him.

Oakley had been fine at home that morning, so it’s likely it was just one bad day caused by the weather. He’d torn it up with pups less than half his age at the last day care session. Well, some dogs age out of day care, and if it’s time to let the twice a week sessions go, it’s OK. No, it isn’t, but it is what it is as part of the aging process. Ms. L. reassured me that he will always be welcome on Ren Faire weekends or other occasions warranting a stay at sleepover camp.

OK, thank you. Go home. Give the homeopathic anti-inflammatory. Give the anti-diarrheal. No, baby. 1:30 is too early for dinner.

He went to his spot on the sofa and fell into a nap. I went on line and ordered more anti-inflammatory pills and another product by the same manufacturer specifically for arthritis. One of my friends had given it to her dogs with success, and I’m hoping for the same with Oakley.

If not, one of the vets at our clinic has experience in a couple of modalities that will help. We’ll figure out the best work arounds, like shorter but more frequent walks, herbs, cold laser treatments.

The arthritis pills will be here Monday, please Mystery.

Until then, short walks in the yard. Not a hard thing because of the wind chill. And anti-inflammatory pills every four hours.

And dream of warmer days ahead.O

The Work Ahead

February opens on a snowy note here in the soybean field. This last weekend’s storm dropped a bit under seven inches of the white stuff on us. We’re shoveled out and the roads are clear, so we’ll get out this afternoon when the wind chill dissipates a bits.

Until then, we have some things to check off the to-do list. Run the dishwasher; do a couple of five-minute organization blitzes; tweet, call and email Congress Rep. Underwood and Senators Duckworth and Durbin.

The last task is the most vital. I can always use paper plates and have no shame about eating out of pots. Piles of bank statements and magazines have been in their spaces this long and leaving them there a bit longer won’t harm anything. Those detract from the quality of my personal life, but those can be easily solved.

Preserving democracy, however, is another matter. It’s not just me or my cohort wave who would be impacted if the lines don’t get established in bold red strokes. It would mean that my nephew, my niece, their descendants, and generations to come would be in a struggle to survive under authoritarianism all because a large group of the gullible and the racist were pulled into a vortex of conspiracy theories, disinformation, and hate.

What, then, needs to be done to close the black hole?

One thing that would go a long way is reinstating the Fairness Doctrine and update it for the digital age. The Fairness Doctrine went on the books in 1949. It required broadcasters to present issues of public interest from different points of view. In 1987, the FCC repealed it. That lead to monopolizing of media outlets and a lack of diverse viewpoints, making it too easy for news to turn into propaganda. And making it too easy for right wing hate speech to take over the airwaves in some rural areas.

The other thing that needs doing is educating the public on critical thinking skills when it comes to media consumption. Finland (https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2019/05/europe/finland-fake-news-intl/ ) has a whole school curriculum that was developed in 2015 with the rise of trolls and bots to help students vet information presented on the internet. Could the same be done here for the current K-12 group, and could it be slipped into the adult population via PSAs?

Would it hurt to try? I don’t think so.

These are at the top of my personal list as well as bringing back civics classes so the populace actually understands how government works, and knows how the three branches of government function, and demand that they do so as intended.

And making sure that people get fed.

And housed, and…and…

It’s a long list. We’d better get started.

If you need me, I’ll be over here having my soup out of the pot.