As she signed off last night, Rachel Maddow said something like “if you are concerned and want to do something, figure out what you’re good at and start doing that for your country.” That’s critical reflection in a nutshell. So here’s my personal inventory:
My goals for engaging in resistance actions and movements:
- To make a substantive difference (e.g. to defeat a policy, change a vote, etc.)
- To keep track of what is happening (e.g. maintain a record, serve as a witness)
- To build community outside my comfort zone
- To be able to tell my grandchildren that I stood up and resisted
- I have substantive knowledge about and deep interest in the legal system and how the three branches of government [should] operate.
- I am have a lot of experience writing, editing, presenting information
- I have confidence in my ability to communicate, organize and lead
- I feel committed to remaining engaged in resistance efforts for the foreseeable future
- I am an extreme introvert. I don’t like meetings.
- I have not practiced as a lawyer for decades
- I am not confident in my command of various doctrinal areas of law (e.g. immigration)
- I have a quick temper and get triggered easily by the bullying tactics of Trump and the Repubs.
This is just a top-of-my-head analysis, but it gets to the heart of my process of deciding how to get and stay involved. The key for me is to engage in activities and actions that meet as many of my four stated goals as possible; that utilize as many of my strengths as possible; and that trigger as few of the challenges as possible.
Another way I think about how to make these decisions is what my spouse and I call “the New York City furniture test.” Because apartments in New York are so small, space is at a premium, so every piece of furniture has to function in multiple ways: a bed might be both a place to sleep and a place to store sweaters; a coffee table can be both a place to display arty books and to eat dinner; a step stool could be both a way to reach high things and a plant stand.
So in deciding whether to sign on to this committee or that project, I ask myself: what function will my participation serve? Which, if any, of my goals will be met; which, if any, of my strengths will be utilized; which, if any, of my challenges will I have to overcome? My answers to these questions lead me to engage in activities that I enjoy, am good at, and can commit to for the long haul, if necessary. That is reflection in action, my friends. I strongly recommend it!
So that’s me. How about you? What are your goals for involvement? Strengths? Challenges? What lovely piece of New York City furniture does your critical reflection lead you to?