What To Do When The News Makes You Feel Hopeless
Illustration by Ms Ana Yael
Despite the blazing sunshine and long-awaited holidays, the world feels grim. It is almost impossible to list everything, but gun violence and Supreme Court rulings in the US have cast a disturbing pall over the summer months.
When decades of political manoeuvring result in deeply unpopular policy shifts (according to Pew Research Center data, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all/most cases) or stalemates in Congress mean no real action on gun control will be taken, even after the deaths of dozens of children, it can be easy to clock off mentally. What can I possibly do, you might think, when those in power are either doing nothing or doing the opposite of what you would like them to do? The law is the law, you may mutter, and I am merely one person.
It is in these dark moments that we must shake ourselves out of our hopeless stupors and light a fire under our backsides. Even if you were surprised by, say, the recent rulings on gun control or abortion, there are organisations that anticipated these developments and have been gathering the resources to fight back.
“We have been preparing for this moment for years,” says Ms Emma Hernández, communications manager at We Testify, an organisation dedicated to unstigmatising abortion and supporting women who choose to have one. “[The Supreme Court decision] didn’t come out of nowhere. We knew it was a possibility for quite some time.” Organisations such as We Testify were ready to leap into action, even if they were feeling as despairing as many of us.
“You need to get informed and educate yourself on what it looks like to support people in this moment”
Hernández understands that people are feeling shocked and terrified and are grasping for things to do to help. “I saw a lot of people saying, ‘Let’s get some underground railroad started,’ or ‘You can come camp in my house,’ but you need to get informed and educate yourself on what it looks like to support people in this moment.”
These types of issues, particularly those that involve new and variable laws, are complicated and, while a willingness to go throw out the rule book is perhaps admirable, it is not always helpful. “Plug into entities that already exist,” says Hernández. We Testify has as resource page that suggests ways in which you can get involved.
Crooked Media, the network founded by four former Mr Barrack Obama staffers, has focused its attention on action as well, collating resources for those who want to get involved. This includes everything from directions to fundraising efforts to education about upcoming elections and volunteering opportunities. Everytown For Gun Safety has a similar action page, which encourages supporters to join local gun safety groups.
“Donating may feel like an anticlimactic action to take, but it’s vitally important to make sure you’re offering support to people who need care”
This may be the key for those of you who have donation fatigue. It’s been a long decade of political action and if you’re the owner of an email address, you have probably received fundraising requests from candidates on a regular basis. And when bad thing after bad thing pops up on your news feed, “donate now” buttons seem to blossom up behind them. The thing is, as fruitless as it may seem to whip out the old credit card and send money into the ether, it may be the best action to take.
Organisations know the landscape. While you’re grinding away at your day job, cringing at New York Times alerts, their day job is dealing directly with those same alerts. “Donating to an abortion fund may feel like an anticlimactic action to take,” says Hernández, “but it’s vitally important to make sure you’re offering support to people who need care. This is not the moment to reinvent the wheel.”
If you are feeling sad or down or hopeless, that’s OK. Take a moment, sit in it, let yourself feel it. Then log on. Find an organisation that has expertise in its DNA, reach out, sign up and donate. The fight is only over when we stop fighting.