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Activist Pro-Tip: Create a Personal Mission Statement

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We Should Treat Our Energy and Engagement the Same Way We Treat Our Money

Donald Trump’s been president for about a year already – or is it a month? I really can’t tell anymore. It certainly feels like it’s been forever. At this point, we’re all tired, we’re cranky, and it feels like no matter how hard we try, nothing much changes. 

Right after he was elected, I wrote a plan for how to get involved on an issue. It talked about learning the field, building relationships with those in power, developing a plan of action, and getting to work. I refer to that piece a lot, but there’s more to add to it. 

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the past few years is that I can have the highest impact if I really focus on just a few issues. If I pare down my main causes to just a few, I can legitimately become an expert in them. I can position myself to be a go-to person for others and I can build meaningful relationships with those in power. 

When I try to focus on too many issues, I find that I get nothing done. I’m constantly overwhlemed and I feel hopeless. The hardest lesson to learn was that I had to let some things go, and trust other folks to take on those fights while I focused on what moved me the most.  

My background is education, and when I work with students – of any age, really, – I often talk about the need for a mission statement. We know that businesses, particularly non-profit agencies, often create a misson statement, but I’m a firm believer that people need a mission statement, too. I think we’re more successful when we can literally write down our guiding principles. I think everyone should do it. 

It’s not hard to write a good mission statement. It should be short, to the point, and use strong, active language. A mission statement should be no longer than one sentence and it should always be as clear as possible. This is not a time for flowery language.

Here are a few examples of what that might look like in practice:

“I will fight for stricter gun control and expanded reproductive rights because I am truly pro-life.”

“I value education and safety for LGBT kids, so I focus on transgender equality in schools and anti-bullying programs.”

“I believe in racial justice efforts and programs because I want everyone have an equal opportunity to be successful in life.” 

You’ll notice that these statements are very specific and include just a few issues, as I described earlier. Creating a personal mission statement doesn’t mean you don’t care about other things. I absolutely care about many things, but I also know that I can’t take on everything.  

When it comes time to the issues that don’t make it into my personal mission statment, I spend some time identifying people in my community and my inner circle I trust who focus on those areas. I follow their lead when it comes time for action. If they ask me to make a phone call to an elected official or show up to a rally, I know that they know what they’re talking about.

Having a mission statement also helps keep me centered and calm because I can focus my anger and rage (and there’s a lot of it these days) into places that will always be useful. I really, really want to care about certain aspects of foreign policy, for example. But, I have absolutely no training in it, almost no education in it, and the likelihood of me making an impact in that area is slim to none. So, when those issues come up, I know that I have specific folks I can look to who will help me understand what’s really happening without me spending every day in a perpetual state of freak out. 

Having a mission statement not only keeps me calm when dealing with the issues I do care about, it helps me make peace when I can’t get involved with other issues. There are times when I just have to say, “I’m sorry, but this issue just isn’t part of my personal mission, I can’t use my energy for it.” That may seem harsh, but we do the same thing when we donate money to charity. We sometimes have to say no to a very worthwhile cause because we don’t have enough money to support everything we care about, and we have to make hard choices. Our mental energy should be thought of in the same way. We just don’t always have enough of it to go around. 

Take some time today to write a list of the issues you care about most. Then, go through that list a second time and decide which of them you have the best ability to impact and are most passionate about. The top two or three belong in your mission statement. You’ll find that as you go through the week you’ll be able to focus your energy into something useful, and the issues won’t feel so large and abstract anymore. And hopefully, it will renew your sense of action so you can continue to fight for the things you believe in. 

 

Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBTQ activist, educator, and writer. He’s a much calmer person now that he can say, “I really want to get involved in that, but I just can’t.” Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed

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COMMENTARY

‘We’re in Trouble’: Steve Schmidt Issues Dire Warning About Changed GOP After January 6th Insurrection

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Appearing on MSNBC’s the 11th Hour with host Brian Williams, former GOP campaign consultant Steve Schmidt warned that Democrats need to accept that the Republican Party has changed drastically after four years of Donald Trump and the Jan 6th riot — and failure to recognize that simple fact puts the entire country at risk.

Using one of Schmidt’s tweets where he called Trump’s “truth” a “hideous deception” as a jumping-off point, the former Republican warned, “We’re in trouble.”

“Objectively, since the insurrection on Jan 6th, the Republican Party is far more radical,” Schmidt began. “Far more committed to the lie that Trump has told, fully committed to the authoritarian movement.”

“Should the events repeat themselves, the Republican Party is in a much different place than it was this past election with regard to being prepared to subvert the legal and lawful results,” he continued.

“The Democrats have done nothing since coming into office,” he added. “They have done nothing to prevent any of the abuses we have seen, done nothing to harden any of the infrastructures”

He later added, “This is a serious moment.”

Watch below:

 

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ANALYSIS

‘Something That’s Under Way’: Trump Aims to Use Russian Tactic to Be ‘Installed Without Winning’ in 2024 Says Yale Historian

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Former president Donald Trump and his GOP supporters are hoping to rely on a tactic that’s common in Russia to return him to the White House in 2024, according to one prominent expert on authoritarianism.

“As someone who follows contemporary Russia, there is a Russian phrase that comes to mind, which is the ‘administrative resource,'” author and Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder told MSNBC on Friday. “What the administrative resource means in Russian is that sure, you have an election, but the people who are running the election are going to determine how the election turns out. What the Republicans are going for is precisely that thing, the administrative resource.”

Snyder then explained how this mechanism works and how Trump and Republicans might apply it during the next election.

“Historically speaking, what we know about a ‘big lie’ is that because of its very scale, it’s not about truth or not truth; it’s about living in a kind of alternative reality,” Snyder added. “What we’re looking at is people who believe in or pretend to believe in this Big Lie, actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimizes their cheating. In other words, if you talk about the Big Lie now, you’re basically promising to cheat the next time around, and that’s very concerning.”

He concluded by saying that this is a clear and present danger, not merely a theoretical one.

“The scenario for 2024 for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election,” Snyder said. “I don’t think it’s something that could happen. I think it’s something that’s under way, and the question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?”

Watch below.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Ghoulish’ Lauren Bobert Branded a ‘Sociopath’ for Attacking Alec Baldwin: ‘Grieving Family Just Lost Their Loved One’

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U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, the QAnon Republican lawmaker and gun rights activist who owns a bar named Shooters in Rifle, Colorado, is being criticized after posting a tweet mocking and attacking Alec Baldwin. The well-known actor who spent several years playing Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” shot and killed award-winning cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, apparently by accident, with a prop gun on set less than 24 hours ago.

Boebert dug up a seven-year old tweet Baldwin had sent in support of Michael Brown, the 18-year old Black man fatally shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

She then added a snide and ugly remark and posted it to Twitter, only too happy to use the pain of Hutchins’ grieving family, friends, and industry as a tool to attack Baldwin:

The outrage was palpable, even from a few on the right, like former Trump White House Director of Strategic Communications:

A Democratic U.S. Congressman weighed in:

This MSNBC correspondent made a keen observation:

And many others:

 

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