Political activism from FBB staff
08 Jun 2017
Some of the actions of the U.S. government in the last several months have inspired a wave of political and social activism unlike any seen in recent years. This season of protests and service kicked off with the Women’s Marches around the world in January. Many members of our staff participated in the marches, and we highlighted their thoughts and experiences in an earlier blog post.
The people behind FBB will always stand for secular humanist principles, and when dissent is necessary, we will make our voices heard. One of the tenets of our mission is to advocate for compassionate action throughout the world, and while we don’t participate in political activities as an organization, as individuals political activism is absolutely one manifestation of that mission.
Quite honestly, there have been so many organized protests, so many marches, so many ways to become a political activist lately, that we couldn’t possibly highlight and do justice to them all. Our staff and volunteers have volunteered in their communities, marched for women, immigrants, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter, our environment, science, and for truth. We are celebrating Pride this month and the Equality March this weekend, and in light of our government's recent decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, we are all asking ourselves what more we can do for our planet.
We'd like to hear from you, our supporters, about what you're doing to stay engaged politically and in your communities. We would also like to share with you the thoughts and experiences of a few of our staff members and volunteers.
"Protest by internet petition does not go far enough. People need to use our rights to be seen together supporting a similar cause. This political culture has urged me to walk with others. It also gives me a chance, as I branch out and be more visible in my activism to raise questions, and help my children steer themselves through a political and social climate they can not completely understand but are aware effects them. Even if my children are cranky, the visual of tens of thousands of people together marching for science impacts their understanding of the importance of reason and scientific inquiry in all aspects of our life." – AJ Chalom, Humanist Grants Coordinator
"The result of the presidential election left me feeling betrayed by my country. I thought that as a country we stood for gender equality, racial equality, respect, diversity, dignity. I did not recognize my own country. Since the election, I've created a website of resources for people in my state, I've marched, I've written letters, I've made phone calls. It's so important that we work together to better our country; that we be kind; that we spend time with our loved ones; that we take solace in art, music, camaraderie, humor. This is my way forward." – Jennifer Brown, Technical Fixer-Upper and Problem Solver
"I went from having a feeling of optimism about the future in the Fall, to complete despair after the election. I thought that finally women were going to be accepted as equals and I would be able to tell future generations that I had voted for a history-making candidate. Instead, the winner was the rejection of all things progressive, in terms of gender, race, the environment, climate change – the list goes on and on. Every day since the inauguration, the news has brought one infuriating piece of information after another. Despair has given way to anger, and I have been actively resisting in every way possible. I participated in my first protest march with the Women’s March. I participated in my first sit-in at DFW airport when the first travel ban was instituted, and people were being held illegally. I have multiple phone numbers for my senators on speed dial, and I have been calling them for the first time in my life. I signed up for Resistbot and have been sending daily faxes to my senators and representative. I use Countable to keep track of new legislation and send comments to my congressmen using that service. I will RESIST and PERSIST as long as this administration is in power and dismantling everything accomplished by our progressive leaders of the past." – Julia Rigler, Marketing Director
"For most of my adult life, I felt like I wasn't informed enough to engage in any type of political discussion or debate. Pair that with a fear of people not liking me, of disagreeing with me, of calling me names, and I generally kept my politics to myself. This past election changed all that. Watching as my candidate performed brilliantly in debates and was summarily dismissed as being too this, too that, too female. Watching her lead slowly ebb away amidst shouts of "lock her up." Watching on election day as it became clear what the outcome would be; an outcome I hadn't even really considered possible. It was all so painfully infuriating that I simply couldn't sit back quietly anymore. I speak up. I fight back. I am raising my daughter to do the same. We cannot afford to be shrinking violets any longer. Our only salvation will be through resistance." – Emma Renfrew, Development Director
"I have always been a passionate person, and I've always participated in the political process by discussing issues and voting, but these last months have awakened in me a new fury. Really, I found myself becoming more and more active and vocal throughout the Bush administration when I first broke away from the conservative ideology in which I was raised. I found myself diving deep into political discourse again during the 2016 elections, but, on what I consider America's loss, November 8th, something in me really shifted. Even amidst my initial shock and subsequent grief, I instinctively ordered an LSAT study guide, somehow intuiting that I would eventually need to take meaningful action. I'm studying now for the LSAT exam and plan to use a law degree to further my knowledge of public health policy. I'll need to wait until my youngest child is in school full-time to devote myself to this venture, but, in the meantime, I volunteer with Foundation Beyond Belief, the PTO at my son's school, and local efforts to supplement clothing needs for students and refugee families in need. I also helped launch a Moms Demand Action chapter in my corner of Arkansas, and I'm constantly contacting my representatives about upcoming legislation. I'm also proud of the Progressive Arkansas Women PAC for encouraging more women to run for political office, and I hope this becomes a trend. If any women out there reading this are interested in running for office, please check out the She Should Run site. This political period is bleak in my opinion, but the surge of activism it has ignited is encouraging." – Stephannie Baker, Volunteer
"I went to the Women's March in January in Houston and to Planned Parenthood Day on April 5th where we met with our Representatives in Austin, TX. I have been calling national House Reps and Senators pretty much once or twice a week, mostly about the repeal of the ACA as that affects me quite a lot. My House Representative has written me letters twice now because of my calls. I have called the Texas State Representative in my area to ask him to vote against the "bathroom law" which, thankfully, did not pass. When I can't get my senators on the phone, I tweet them to answer the phone." – Kara Long, Donor Relations Administrative Manager
"I have always voted in Presidential elections, but have never been politically active or followed political news much. The last presidential election changed that. I watched debates at home and at debate parties. I followed the news stories and tried to become really informed about why my candidate was more qualified and more suited for the role of President. I voted in the primary for the first time. Since the election, I have voted in our local school board election, attended protests, called my government representatives, and definitely thought about politics more than I had in my entire life previously.
Last November 9th, I felt something similar to grief as I watched the election results. My grandmother had died a short time before, so I had already been grieving that loss. I realized that my feelings and thoughts were mirroring those that I had about my grandmother's death. How did this happen? Feeling uncertainty about my future and that of those I care about. Questioning things about life that I had taken for granted before. What do we do now? Where can I focus my thoughts and efforts? My election-related grief was made that much harder because the outcome of the election was so unexpected. Dealing with grief is one thing, but dealing with shock combined with grief was harder for me. I was grieving for my country, for the expected loss of my rights as a cis LGBTQ woman and the rights of many other marginalized groups, and for the chance to be part of a significant moment in history.
With time, that grief has subsided and has become anger and frustration. I have been following the news reports of the White House's actions since the election and I am so often shaking my head with disbelief or anger. Here in Texas, the news is just as bad. Our state government is debating and passing ''bathroom bills' and other ways to further marginalize those who are already marginalized, while further privileging those who are already privileged. They are not talking about income inequality, racism, equal access to education, reproductive rights for women, and other inequity issues that need to be solved in our state.
It can feel overwhelming with so many different ways to get involved, so many different causes to fight for, so many people and groups organizing differently around different issues. I've had to pick one or two that are especially important to me and focus my efforts on those. Even before this election, it is easy for some to over-commit or become overwhelmed. To that, I say: We do what we can do when we can do it. If you have money, donate money. If you have time, donate time. If you have a skill, donate that skill. If you own something that may help (like a meeting space, a storage space, audio equipment, etc.), donate that or let local organizers use that resource.
There is a lot going on. Try not to worry about what you can't do. Focus on what you can do and then do it! If we all do that, we will make great progress together. Onward to 2018!" – Noelle George, Executive Director