How do you folks do it? How do you continue to see and read about the awfulness in the world and instead of getting terrified into paralysis use that fear/anger/frustration/indignation to go out and shout and scream and resist and demand change?
Ever since Trump was elected, I’ve been perpetually terrified, even though I live in one of Canada’s most culturally diverse and multicultural cities. Most of the racism I’ve faced in my life been from online trolls, but still, the confirmation of Trump as president-elect scared me (among many other IBPOC folk in Canada). But as time goes on and I wait to ride the wave of this fear so that I can go out and actually be useful as an individual with the rights I do have, things keep getting worse and worse and worse. All my friends are revolting and I’m so proud to be considered a social justice warrior amongst them, but I feel like a failure. I feel like a coward because my fear about the state of the world had paralysed me and I feel like a prisoner of my own emotions.
Last night’s breaking news re the shooting at a mosque in Quebec City feels like the final straw. I read about it after my weekly Sunday night self-care routine and just reading that news erased the two hours I had invested in calming my fears and guiding myself to think with logic rather than fear. I’m not a practising Muslim, but I have a very Muslim name (and I fucking love my name and I fucking love Islam), and the parallels to the rise of the Nazis makes it feel like I’m living in a waking nightmare. And I’m scared shitless.
I love those memes that go around pointing out people who always say “If I were around in Nazi Germany, I would…” followed by a line reminding people that we are in the 21st century version of that, so the time for talk and “what if” is over and the time for action is here. I used to believe (or at least convince myself) that I would be one of those brave souls who would risk arrest and violence for the sake of what’s right. I believed that I would be on the right side of history, and though I am on it in principle, I did not consider that I would be one of those hapless beings with good intentions who is just unable to actually fight off her terror and be an active member of a movement.
I sit at home in a cloud of anxiety and depression stemmed (for the rare time) from outside myself. I did not prepare for this. My therapists and my medications did not tell me how to emotionally deal with demons that weren’t in my head but were running countries and killing innocents and were repeating one of the most terrifying periods of western history. I was not taught how to overcome this crippling fear that has be trapped at home behind my keyboard, obsessively refreshing news pages to see what new horror this new world will bring about and getting more and more afraid and thus more unable to act.
Who taught you brave souls how to be brave? How did you tell your fear to shut up; how did you convince your emotions that your conscience and morality are more important than your fears—how did you do this especially when you know that, logically, that is the case, but still can’t convince yourself because of your overwhelming emotions (namely, you very legitimate fear)? Help me be better because I hate myself right now for being such a fucking useless coward.