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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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News

‘A Little Late for That’: Legal Expert Buries Jennifer Crumbley for Crying Through Her Manslaughter Arraignment

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Appearing on CNN on Saturday morning, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia had no sympathy for the mother of the Michigan teen accused of shooting four high school classmates last Tuesday with a handgun his parents reportedly purchased for him as an early Christmas present.

Very early Saturday morning James and Jennifer Crumbley were taken into custody at a Detroit-area industrial park after failing to turn themselves into the police for processing.

Following the arraignment of the Crumbleys on four counts apiece of involuntary manslaughter due to the actions of their son Ethan this morning, Charles Ramsey noted that Jennifer Crumbley audibly sobbed and cried as she was told she would be held pending the successful posting $500,000 bail which her husband must also post.

After the CNN panel — hosted by Christi Paul and Boris Sanchez — discussed how Ethan’s mother blew off complaints from the school about his actions, joking with her son he needed to “learn how to not get caught,” former law enforcement official Charles Ramsey said he had no sympathy for her.

RELATED: WATCH: Prosecutor in Crumbley parent’s case successfully slaps down defense attorneys’ demand for $50K bail

“This is a highly publicized case, so selection of a jury is going to certainly take time to make sure you don’t have people that already have a bias against for the parents one way or the other,” Ramsey explained. “And I’m sure that will take place, that will happen. They’ll find a jury that will be able to render a decision based on facts and evidence, but they’re not going to be able to avoid the court of public opinion — that’s the world we live in now.”

“It will be highly publicized, a lot of information will be put out there, some will be accurate, some will not be accurate in terms of evidence and things of that nature,” he continued. “I don’t know how you avoid that sort of thing but certainly I could hear it in her voice as well, sounded as if she’s crying, but it is a little late for that.”

“There are people that are crying over deaths of their children right now, the children laying in a hospital with gunshot wounds,” he continued. “I mean, those are the kinds of people that personally my empathy is with them, not with the [Crumbley] parents right now.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

John Eastman Will Face Charges if Continues ‘Frivolous Argument’ Against Capitol Riot Probe: Adam Schiff

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John Eastman, the far-right lawyer who authored Trump’s “coup memo,” announced on Friday that he would be defying a subpoena from the House January 6 Committee.

Appearing on CNN later in the day, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) made clear that Eastman is free to plead the Fifth if he has a good-faith reason to fear he could incriminate himself — but that doesn’t entitle him to a free pass to ignore investigators.

“Eastman says the partisan makeup of the committee, he says makes it invalid and doesn’t need to cooperate,” said anchor Wolf Blitzer. “What do you say to that?”

“Well, that was a frivolous argument,” said Schiff. “If he uses that as a basis to refuse to answer questions, he will be in contempt of the committee, simple and straightforward. So we’ll be seeing with each witness… whether they’re properly invoking a privilege or to stall and delay for the former president, and will make the judgment as to what the repercussions should be once we see and hear the testimony.”

READ MORE: Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark postpones Capitol riot testimony due to ‘medical condition’

This comes after former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was indicted on contempt charges for ignoring the committee, and as former DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark faces an upcoming contempt vote by Congress.

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COMMENTARY

Marjorie Taylor Greene Cries She’s the ‘Most Attacked’ – Less Than 24 Hours After Labeling All Democrats ‘Communists’

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If it seems like it was just yesterday that U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene labeled the President of the United States and in fact every Democrat in the country “communists,” it was, which is why it might seem strangely hypocritical that the Republican from Georgia minutes ago was labeling herself the “most attacked” freshman member of Congress in all of U.S. history.

“Joe Biden is a communist,” Greene declared strongly Thursday evening. “And that’s who the Democrats are – they’re communists.”

“You know, a lot of people are swallowing down the word ‘socialist,’ but that’s not a good enough word for Democrats – they are communists,” Greene told her supporters, clearly ignorant of the words’ meanings.

“That’s the word we need to keep using with them,” she continued. “Because they’re using these unprecedented, authoritarian, tyrannical controls on the American people to force people to comply.”

But Greene was singing a very different tune Friday afternoon.

“I have been the most attacked freshman Member of Congress probably in United States history,” Greene cried in a video she posted to social media. “The media has defamed me. They have completely smeared my character. Called me names and labeled me horrible things, none of which I am. None of the things they have said are true about me.”

What has been said about Congresswoman Greene in the legitimate media? Unlike her videos, there’s a high degree of likelihood it’s mostly true.

Here’s a portion of what The New York Times wrote in January:

Marjorie Taylor Greene had just finished questioning whether a plane really flew into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and flatly stating that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim when she paused to offer an aside implicating another former president in a crime.

“That’s another one of those Clinton murders,” Ms. Greene said, referring to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death in a 1999 plane crash, suggesting that he had been assassinated because he was a potential rival to Hillary Clinton for a New York Senate seat.

Ms. Greene casually unfurled the cascade of dangerous and patently untrue conspiracy theories in a 40-minute video that was originally posted to YouTube in 2018.

Ms. Greene suggested in a 2018 Facebook post, unearthed this week by Media Matters, that a devastating wildfire that ravaged California was started by “a laser” beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats. She endorsed executing Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She served as a prolific writer for a now-defunct conspiracy blog called “American Truth Seekers,” writing posts with headlines including “MUST READ — Democratic Party Involved With Child Sex, Satanism, and The Occult.” And she argued that the 2018 midterm elections — in which the first two Muslim women were elected to the House — were part of “an Islamic invasion of our government.”

Ms. Greene has repeatedly claimed in multiple videos and social media posts that several school shooting massacres were “false flag” events perpetrated by government officials in an attempt to drum up support for gun control laws. In an October 2020 video surfaced on Friday by Mother Jones, she said that the “only way you get your freedoms back is it’s earned with the price of blood.”

Ms. Greene is perhaps best known for having endorsed QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy movement that claims that Mr. Trump was facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles.

That was almost an entire year ago. You’re probably more familiar with all the baseless and unfounded attacks she has made since.

Greene has made lying about and attacking Democrats part of her weekly, if not daily routine. Sometimes those attacks have been very personal – and very close. Like when she followed Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist David Hogg around the streets of D.C. He said he felt she was threatening him. Or more recently, when she verbally assaulted U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of Congress. That was one of her countless attacks against the New York Democrat who Greene seems disturbingly obsessed with.

But if indeed Greene is the “most attacked” freshman member of Congress in all of U.S. history, she has only herself to blame.

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