How to Be Mad

Friends, it’s almost a month later. How are you doing? Are you safe?

If you’re anything like me, you’re doing a delicate dance* between trying to carry on with your life, activism, and a new phenomenon that I call Trump Fatigue, where you collapse under a blanket absolutely paralysed and despairing because you still can’t believe this is happening. Sound about right?

I see laws coming through the pipeline that massively affect me, that massively affect my friends, that massively affect the country. I’m seeing a lot more violence. I’m seeing division in communities as we desperately fight to protect a life’s worth of causes on limited resources. So here, for our benefit is my guide to the hardest part of post-Trump life: how to be mad.

mad (măd) adj. Angry; resentful. See Synonyms: angry.**

A lot of us have worked very hard not to be mad, it’s kind of a frowned-upon emotion in liberal circles. But we’re not in rational times any more, and trying to pretend you’re not mad at Trump could get you in more trouble than you’re in now, and could literally get people killed. So once again: how to be mad.

  1. Get mad about all the things, and focus on some of them. You do not have the energy to be as mad as Trump’s work deserves. This is why he’s been so successful. Across a broad ranging platform of policies he has wreaked such destruction that we can’t channel our energy enough to fight back. Be mad about that! And then pick the places where you and your anger can do the work of fighting back.
  2. Do not get mad at other people’s mad. Women’s March, I am looking at YOU. Because of step one, you’re going to have a lot of people around you with different mad to you. Some of them will be mad at you. Some of them will be ignoring your mad. These people are your allies – listen to them. You have the same reasons to be mad, why are your expressions of that mad different? Does your mad need changing? Are you aware of the ways your mad might be making extra work for other people? What can you do about that?
  3. Remind yourself why you are mad. You’re probably getting really tired right about now. Maybe you switched off from the news, or facebook, and you wish that the mad around would just be over. Stop! Remember why you are mad, and the worth of that response in the face of what’s going on in the world. If you are prepared to accept what’s going on in order to be comfortable, that is a choice. But others out there can’t, and if you can’t accept Trump, you’re going to feel mad.
  4. Be your own kind of mad. Not everyone is a protestor. Not everyone can call senators. Your mad might be loud, or quiet, or based entirely online. It might cry, and it might scream. Make it work for you. You do not need to be anyone else’s mad.
  5. But be mad in good ways! There are good and bad kinds of mad. There is the mad that allows people to get mad alongside you, and there is the mad that turns you into a threat. If you are smashing tables because you don’t like what someone has to say about your anti-abortion bill? That’s the bad kind of mad. Punching Nazi’s… ok I’m not so sure about the Nazi punching. I absolutely think physical violence is to be avoided, but if that Nazi came for me, I would want someone to punch that Nazi. But those of you saying you’d “bang” Melania Trump just to see the look on her father’s face? You are part of the problem, and I am mad at you too. You are the reason we can’t have nice things…. Like female presidents! Who aren’t Trump! Be the kind of mad that sees the world now, and sees the world better, and gets angry as the distance.
  6. Take breaks from being mad. Hormones and chemicals and tremors oh my! Mad is physically exhausting. Take time out to give yourself a break from being mad. Take care of yourself. But also remember that the people still being mad might need your support more than you need support for taking a break. Take your space to recover. Let them have space to be mad. And when you come back, bring cookies, or something.
  7. Let people see that you are mad. This is a bit contradictory, which is why I left it until after the funny cat video. There’s a lot of pressure on certain groups of people to stop being mad. Or to say they aren’t mad. They’re having to choose between being mad, and serious threat to themselves and their families. So if you can afford to be visibly mad, be mad! Be mad for yourself, and be mad for others. Say “I am so angry about what is being done to you.” Punch holes in the walls that say only some anger is valid.
  8. Make space for other people’s mad. This is the flip side of that advice: your mad might not be the most important mad in the room. You getting mad about something in the abstract might be getting in the way of someone with a quieter mad, who’s actually living it. If you silence your mad, you’re probably silencing theirs as well, but don’t get mad so loudly that they can’t be heard. Practice the balance of being mad together.
  9. Get educated. You are going to be called out and asked to justify your mad. You are going to be asked what you want to be done. You are going to be fed a lot of information about why your mad really doesn’t matter. Resist. Read books, watch documentaries, select carefully from the internet. Seek out sources from people who’ve done the research, especially people who’ve done the research who don’t live like you. If someone tells you to look at something, look at it. Have the discussion. Put a whetstone to the edge of your mad and hone it until it can cut through anything. Know, also, the risks of being mad.
  10. Direct your mad. Mad can only do so much good between four walls. Use your private spaces to grow and nurture your mad into a force, but don’t neglect using that force in the world. Let it drive you to do the things you’d otherwise be too tired, sad or scared to do. Find out, as I have, that mad can make you teach, and mad can make you learn, and often, and the best way I have found of being mad in the world?

Is kindness.

* Yes I shoehorned that in to justify publishing this on my dance blog.
** Colloquially, mad can also be a derogatory term related to mental illness. I’m also finding it really useful as a term right now. I absolutely and only mean it according to the definition, but that’s why I’ve been careful not to say “madness” anywhere in this post.

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