One thing we can do to be smarter activists is to start thinking of “Two Birds, One Stone” solutions.
Here’s a good example.
@GoodTweety on Twitter posted this image, which notes that more women have been killed by gun violence in the US than soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So much of the things I see on Facebook, Twitter, and in magazines from Z to the New York Times are about problems like this. Statistics that might depress you, horror stories about ISIS or Boko Haram. It’s important to have this kind of perspective. It’s important to realize that it’s often more dangerous in this country to be a meatpacker than a cop.
But I have found that there is such a deficit of hope that people have that we hear these statistics and we turn off. We get angry, and because it’s useless anger, it doesn’t lead to anything.
Now, I focus on solutions. I focus on hope. And so it took me less ten minutes to see something.
If we had a better mental health system, we would help those soldiers who have survived war and served their country at the same time as helping women escape from the kind of relationships where they may be beaten, shot and killed.
The problems may be different, but the fact that our problems keep going on stem back to a few institutions we are letting fail us totally.
And one of the great ironies is that I, a staunch opponent of US militarism, am far more passionate than so many prominent conservatives that I’ve seen about actually making sure that the soldiers who went abroad to fight wars I disagreed with could come back home and find new ways of being heroes instead of being swallowed by darkness.
I could go on about patriarchy, racism, militarism, and capitalism, and how they factor into these issues. I can talk about the failings of corporate media. I can talk about rape culture. But how can we expect to deal with huge issues and complex social institutions like that if we can’t solve something as relatively simple and reform-based as a functioning mental health care system? How can we expect to get any momentum on those big problems when we can’t fix comparatively little ones? Why do we want to put the cart ahead of the horse?
There are so many solutions available to fix problems that we see that require no value changes, that conservatives, liberals, progressives, and anarchists can all agree on. There’s just smart policy. And if we had better policy education in this country, we’d be so much better off at coming up with these approaches, making the movements and advocating for them.