If politics, hatred, suffering, and the sorry state of the world is cluttering your mind – welcome to the club. It’s easy to become depressed and want to return hate with hate. But that doesn’t solve anything.

On my last blog post, Let Go of Trivial Judgments, I promised to move beyond trivial judgments to find constructive ways to channel justified anger into action. Following are 7 steps I recommend.

  1. Let go of the trivial – to make room for what’s important. DONE √
  2. Identify the top 2 issues that are worthy of your outrage. Let your outrage with evil motivate you. (Let others take care of the other issues. You are not in charge of the world.)
  3. Become informed. Check credible news sources. Read. Listen. Think. Learn how to recognize propaganda and news bias. Check here, and here, for resources or the classic fact checking sources of Snopes, ProPublica, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, or The Sunlight Foundation.
  4. Listen deeply to the hurts and fears of the “other.” Try to understand, rather than to hate back. While you are listening include listening to your heart, body, and soul. For me, this means taking my frustrations to prayer. May God open my heart to fully understand and inspire me to discern positive, effective responses.
  5. Strategize. Good intentions are not enough. Think of positive, specific, doable actions. (See Will Grant.) Consult others. As The Pachamama Alliance says, “Together we are a genius.”
  6. Join with others. This multiplies your individual efforts and supports motivation.
  7. Act. Prayer and penance are worthy actions but must be joined with concrete actions for change. The act of acting also relieves depression and feelings of helplessness.

For example, I identified working for a sustainable environment and responding to the sexual abuse/cover-up issue in the Catholic Church as my top two issues. (I also care about making health care affordable to all and many other social issues but I have limited time and energy so I had to choose what I knew most about and was in the best position to influence change.)

Regarding environmental sustainability, I studied resource material and took training to lead workshops on this issue (Awakening the Dreamer and Drawdown). About a year ago I also intentionally sought out people who had a different political stance than I did and tried to understand their fears. I joined a team of local people to lead workshops on environmental sustainability, social justice, and spiritual fulfillment. It takes a lot of time. I can’t do every thing, but I can do something. I must do something.

Contact me if you want to know how I have acted on the sexual abuse/cover-up/clericalism issue.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
The Talmud