Following the doofus, unwitting-Manchurian controversy that was Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in Election 2016, as well as the year 2016 in general, why not strive to be a better citizen to your planet, culture, country, city, and social sphere? Here are a number of ways to be a more mindful and conscientious American, as well as human.
Listen more. Let people talk about themselves. It’s an easy way to make more friends because most people are happy to tell others all about their lives, and the subsequent serotonin rush makes them remember you fondly. Meanwhile, new other people have a lot they can teach you if you only pay attention. If it is something they are passionate about, nothing would make them happier than helping you. If you disagree with someone so much that you get angry, you really need to start listening. Because we should all be open to progress a la the scientific method of reverence to factual examination, even if it means we must admit we may have been wrong about something. With ambition toward truthful compromise and consensus, humility does not need to be painful or difficult.
Share positivity and progress on social media. We spend a lot of time curating our lives on social media, why not direct our friends’ attention to good causes, calls to action, inspiring successes, good deeds, big ideas, and local events? The Internet’s global connectivity is a force for mass democracy like never before: participate.
Publish yourself. There are a lot of people in your town as well as your planet. Stand out, and make an imprint on the people around you by making them think, or smile, or laugh, or just sit quietly considering what you’ve said, made or done. Settle on an idea and commit to it until you’re satisfied with it, and then show people. It’s easy—paint something; write poems about your life’s weirdest nights or past lovers; shoot a short film with your phone; articulate your soul.
Start learning again. Read a fucking book. Read ten books this year, minimum. At least one of them has to be a biography, and don’t forget to find a few works of nonfiction. Reading literally develops empathy, caring, and intellectual curiosity in people, which roughly means that if you haven’t finished a book since middle school there is a chance you are a sociopath. And a dumb one. Read—in the bathroom, before you go to bed, while driving—whatever it takes. And why not start learning a new language? With language apps it has literally never been easier in human history to learn a new language from afar. What better way is there to be a better citizen in this global world than understanding two cultural perspectives?
Follow news from many sources. Various people and political groups want you to believe wrong, stupid, and sometimes even terrible things. Don’t let them fool you. If something is illuminating your bullshit detector, look it up. Before you post or share, fact-check yourself. Don’t be a dupe, and definitely don’t share purposefully and malevolently erroneous information simply because ignorance of context can be blissfully unchallenging. Escape and unlock our political echo chambers!
Fight hate and fascism wherever you come upon it. This presidential election has awakened demons in our national psyche, and our country’s personality is flirting with xenophobic hatred. Resist this. Stick up for the oppressed, wherever sexism, racism, homophobia, islamophobia or any other divisive, unAmerican social phobia bubbles up to the surface in your daily life. This is the most important. Stand up to fear and hate, it is an existential responsibility.
Stop believing every conspiracy theory you see in a Youtube video. If in six minutes a video titled in caps lock with a trio of exclamation points ties together the JFK assassination, the Rothschilds, 9/11, chemtrails, the gold standard, a Holocaust denial, the reptilian elite, evolution, the Crusades, Middle Eastern dictators, climate change and FEMA camps into an impossibly powerful and omnipresent global conspiracy of a New World Order super elite, congratulations: you didn’t receive enough information about any of the subjects individually to be adequately informed about the proposed gestalt. Look shit up and understand complex topics. Especially because surrealist governmental paranoia in people is typically accompanied with democratic inactivity and apathy, which ironically assists the possibility of an actual elite reptilian oligarchy taking over.
Don’t be a herb. Follow a principle or two, and try to be altruistic occasionally. Be the best, self-actualized person you can be. Improve yourself daily. Learn to love yourself so you don’t have to get your kicks making other people feel bad. This year, try not to be: pedantic, hyperbolic, needlessly dishonest, segregative, a downer, a moocher, a copycat, a fundamentalist, a rapist, a hater in general, a bad tipper, a self-destructive drunk, a lazy parent, an irresponsible dog owner, a litterer, or a thief at house parties. Please don’t change lanes right in front of people and fail to accelerate. Give money to street musicians. Stop sending unsolicited dick pics. Don’t pee on people’s cars. Make people feel happy in 2017; not antagonized, discriminated against or insecure.
May 2017 be more fortuitous and kind for you than 2016 was.