We've Marched. Now What?

In the wake of Donald Trump's inauguration, marches and demonstrations have taken place across the globe, often with more than 100,000, participants in any individual march - the Women's March in Washington had over 470,000 demonstrators. Obviously, something has started. But what do we do once the signs are put away and the streets are cleared? How do we effect positive change in this new political and social climate? The key here is to not forget and to not give up. 

(Image source: CNN)

Demonstrations and marches are exhilarating to be apart of! You feel the power of the group and your shared goals. You feel the excitement of going against the grain. In recent years they have been loud, colorful, vibrant affairs. But after a few hours, it ends. The community disbands, and the cries for justice fade back into the sounds of routine. The adrenaline rush leaves you, and it's back to every day life, often lacking the inspiring stimuli of organized dissection. Passions can fade and causes are forgotten, or at least pushed to the bottom of the long to-do list. And while you will always have that experience, and it feels good to know that you stood up to the man, the meaning of your actions is lost. That is, unless you continue to act

The president's actions over the last week have been controversial to say the least. Many have expressed anger, fear, and confusion over the stream of executive orders flowing in from the White House. But what can we do? How can we continue to act? After all, executive orders seem very binding. Truth is, they are not. Just as Congress can overturn a president's veto, 2 out of 3 can also overturn an executive order. This means that as citizens of the United States, it is our duty to express our concerns and displeasure to our congressmen and women. Call and meet with your representatives, write handwritten letters. Email works too, but is more likely to be ignored. Take the passion found in the marches and channel that into your political discourse. Granted, one must be respectful when addressing a representative, but that does not mean that you cannot be passionate. Sharing personal stories and organizing groups to contact representatives all at once can have an even greater effect. Remember - this person is your representative, and you are their constituent. You hold a power that they need desperately: your vote.         

Of course, in order to effectively work with your representative or senator, you must be informed. This doesn't mean reading a few articles on Facebook or Twitter now and then. This means seeking out reliable sources, preferably bipartisan ones. Looking at a variety of sources also helps in seeing the whole picture, especially if your representative is of a different party from you. You need to be able to see things from their point of view too. Not to mention, you want to make sure you have your facts straight: convincing someone of your side is much harder when you have false, contradictory, or "alternative" facts. 

However, not all of us are able or confident enough to take this course of action. Though it is the most direct way to try and combat what we disagree with, it is by no means the only way. Working with those hurt by new policies, or even just taking time to hear their stories helps to alleviate fears as well as build a safety net for those most at risk. If you have the means, donating to organizations that can provide these safety nets also goes a long way towards minimizing the effects of harmful legislation. And if all of these still don't seem like something you could do, help remind others that all hope is not lost. Help them think of ways they can act, and support them in their action. The community does not really go away after a march ends. You are not alone just because you leave the mass of people. We must continue to work together, to be a community responsible and driven. Each individual is vital in the fight against injustice, but when individuals come together, and remain together under a cause, they are unstoppable. 

You can find your representatives here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/  

Organizations that need your help: 

Church World Service

Amnesty International

NRDC

Planned Parenthood

ORAM

IRC