Posted on Jan 13, 2017
Not all of us have a platform of hundreds of thousands of listeners. Not all of us travel the world giving profound lectures, or discuss politics on local or national news. And that’s ok. Not everyone is meant to be doing those things, but each one of us is supposed to live our own truth, our own life. As we gear up for our next wild ride otherwise known as the 45th Presidential term, one thing we cannot afford to be is passive. We must choose to act in our own capacity.
Acting in your own capacity is not code language for ‘do not get involved, and hide in your own shell.’ It is, however, meant to make you feel better if you were once a political activist while you were in college and a few years down the road (maybe over a decade or so… ahem...), you find yourself struggling to keep up with life’s responsibilities. Guess what? Now is the time to polish up on that political sass you used to whip out whenever someone mentioned a controversial topic. Or maybe you feel a sense of renewed civic responsibility as we head into a Trump Presidency. Whatever your reason may be for the next four years, whatever you do -keep it raw, keep it genuine and keep it strong.
1) Be an Equal Champion of Humanity
As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more aware of my own selective compassion. It is easy to support a cause that directly impacts yourself, or community, but how often do you look beyond this circle? In order to be a true champion of humanity, with a crystal clear political narrative we have to stand in solidarity with all marginalized communities beyond our own. We should feel a sense of urgency against any community that has been wronged by a government, or collectively by society. Step out of your selective compassion, because that is really the only way to build genuine understanding of your own political identity.
"O you who believe, be persistent standing firm in justice, as witnesses for God, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, God is more worthy of both. So follow not your personal inclination lest you not be just..." (4:135).
2) Stay Informed
It’s pretty easy getting sucked into the black hole of negativity called news, but now more than ever it's important to stay informed. We have to be conscious of what is happening around us. We cannot be walking around with blinders on. Choose your sources wisely, and beware the fake news! (More on how to spot fake news here). However, you have to brace yourself beforehand. Understand that although you are hoping for the best, you understand what is going on in the world today is pretty bad. Be brave, take it in – be a knowledgeable citizen but do not let it consume you.
3) Creative Thinking Wanted!
Read and read deeply. Find the news that pertains to your political life but also read about issues that you are not instinctively drawn to, this broadens perspective and promotes creative thinking. How so? Exposing your mind to new ideas is cardio work for your brain. You know that feeling you get when you’ve been working out for a while and your body starts moving in ways you never knew it could? The same goes for the mind – the more you stretch it, the more malleable it becomes. You want to create that flow of ideas, this happens through inspiration; reading inspires. We need more creative thinkers in this world; it is now our civic duty to pursue creative thinking. Imagine a world where people crafted their political narrative in the essence of creative thought – what a different world it would be. So pick up a book, read it deeply and once you’re done – write and talk about it, often the best ideas are seeds of conversation, and what better conversation piece than a recently read book?
4) Brush up on Your Civics
We were all moved when the man who became everyone’s uncle on that DNC stage, Khizr Khan, took out his pocket Constitution to school Trump on the American Constitution. The truth of the matter is, we all need schooling when it comes to our rights. Go straight to the source, the Constitution! Read up on the functions of our government, contact your elected officials, get acquainted with the Electoral College – whatever it may be, your political narrative must be built upon knowing your rights.
5) Find Inspiration
We are not weak, nor passive – we are strong and fierce women. Muslim women across the globe are doing mighty things. Take for instance Ilhan Omar, who was sworn in as the first Somali-American legislator. How amazing is that? Find light in her path and the path of other trailblazers like her. Keep them in your prayers as Ilhan, and others embark on a difficult journey. Send out that positive energy and it will definitely come straight back for you.
So often we miss out on making an impact because we are bombarded by this notion that creating change has to be done on a global or wide scale. Your political narrative begins with your voice. Strengthen your voice; use it in the face of injustice – or simply to get you through your day. It is a powerful thing to be heard – raise your voice, the world is waiting to hear.
Ahlam Yassin is an educator, grad student, 24/7 on-call mom and writer. Visit her blog: www.ahlamyassin.com.