Copyright © End of the Line Humanists | All Rights Reserved

Action List for the (Un)Faithful

“People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck.”  Chinua Achebe

The 2016 election was a shock to many, including most humanists.  In the immediate wake of Donald Trump’s victory, millions vented their opinions and emotions online, on TV and radio, in newspapers and at dinner tables around the country:  grief, anger, fear and blame, uncountable post-mortems.  People protested.  Yet while so many had something to say about how or why it happened, few at first offered concrete ideas on what the average citizen could do to help.  All that energy without outlet led to frustration. 

So, with our chapter’s discussion group coming up on the schedule, we at End of the Line Humanists started to research and compile a working list of actions that humanists or humanist groups could take to make a difference.  Little by little as this stunning new reality set in, voices in the media, government, entertainment and elsewhere also made more practical suggestions. 

Following is an overview of the best of these calls to action.

  • Donate/give to/volunteer your time to/join organizations which do good work, especially those whose funding is likely to be cut.  Look for social justice, women’s reproductive rights, environmental, and secular advocacy organizations in addition to groups like your local food pantry or homeless shelter. Many of these organizations take donations and memberships online. Most need volunteers.  One of the best Facebook posts on this subject was by a private citizen who shared that if you make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name, a certificate of donation will be send to his office at the state house in Indianapolis (you must supply that address).  Be creative!

  • Attend a meeting of one of these groups or start your own.  Choose a civic-minded group like those above or check out one of many  secular organizations

  • Protest/assemble peaceably/physically show up to things.  Focus and ask for one or two specific changes when you do; milling around before news cameras is not enough, no matter what the size of the crowd.  Organize, for example, a march to demand that the lame duck Senate confirm Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.  Attend the  Million Woman March planned for January 21st in Washington D.C. to focus on women’s issues and rights.  Check out their Facebook page here

  • Stay informed and alert about threats to human rights and secular values, and the current legislation about them.  A good place to start is the  Action Alerts on Secular Coalition for America’s website.

  • Read  books and articles on the Alt-Right, White Nationalism, Christian Nationalism and Christian Dominionism.  Racists are being openly invited into the new administration (e.g., Stephen Bannon); the ultra-religious have been quietly slipping into government positions for years.  (Newt Gingrich is back.  And worse.)  As Roy Speckhardt reminds us, they will not be so quiet now. 

  • Stay connected with others who share your values.  As Elizabeth Warren stated, “We have to be ready to mobilize on specific issues when the time comes.”

  • Start and sign petitions, for example a ballot initiative to abolish the Electoral College or stop the Dakota pipeline.  There are websites like where you can sign these types of petitions, or even start your own.

  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers, especially if you live in a red state.

  • Share resources.  Make lists of specific books, websites, materials, and ideas and share them with others.  See ours here.

  • Forward and post ideas, comments, invitations to meet and act, and resources on social media. At one point Michael Moore’s “Morning After To-Do List”  was being shared more than 30,000 times per hour. 

  • Come out and connect.  If you are secular, gay, disabled, a feminist, a Muslim, etc. make yourself visible if and when it’s safe to do so.  It’s been proven that putting a human face on group labels makes bigotry much harder.  Many people voting to disenfranchise particular groups don’t know anyone in that group. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus  has cancelled their tour abroad to visit red states instead, hoping to change American hearts and minds.

  • Back up symbolic gestures with action. It’s fine to wear a rainbow hat or a  safety pin on your lapel.  It helps show the strength of our numbers.  But symbols without actions are sterileKnow what to do when you encounter acts of bigotry.

  • Back up your optimism with action. We need both hope and positive attitudes.  But, be the optimist who works to solve problems, not the “everything will be alright” version who trusts that they will be solved by someone else.

  • Use your talents.  Hold a bake sale or garage sale, throw pots and sell them, etc. and donate the proceeds to causes which support your values.

  • Make art.  Write a poem, novel, play or song; paint, sculpt, take photographs; design t-shirts, signs and internet memes; come up with catchy slogans to further the cause.  Make a podcast or YouTube video.  Art heals us, inspires us and moves us forward in times of stress.  One of the most visceral offerings of election week was Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (which, despite it's religious references, is really about the joy and suffering of being human) on Saturday Night Live’s cold open.  Some loved it, some did not, but that short performance dominated the internet the next day and moved many conversations forward.

  • Find allies.  One of the more specifically useful things on the internet is a 2-minute film from VideoRev called  “5 Ways to Disrupt Racism.”  It was shared on the page of a group called Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented, a liberal Christian FB group.  We will need to forge alliances with groups who share our values and band together to act.

  • Listen to your opponents.  Reward them with your support when they get things right, even if it’s just from political expedience.  Be kind to your friends, family and neighbors who hold opinions different from yours.  Pay attention to their concerns and motivations.  But –

  • Fight normalization of bigotry, misogyny, nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and Christian privilege.  Don’t stop speaking up because these horrors are now so prevalent.  They are still horrors.  Be aware that most politicians who do terrible things have clearly stated their intentions  up front.  Believe them.

  • Don’t move to Canada (or another country). If you want to move, several pundits suggested, move to a red state, organize, advocate, and vote.

  • Enjoy your life, your family, your favorite pastimes.  Garrison Keillor made the point that the power has shifted and  some things will be out of our hands.  He suggests taking up gardening in the interim. It’s important to remember to experience the freedoms and pleasures we’re actually fighting for while they’re still ours to enjoy.  However, it’s easier to do this and to sleep at night if you’ve acted in some capacity on your values.  Find that balance and rest up for the big battles.  They are coming. 

While few of us can do all these things, all of us can do a few of them  to protect our country and change it for the better.  The forces on the right – corporations, Wall Street, fundamentalist religions, etc. – have been patiently, quietly working their plans for years.  Those plans are coming to full fruition.  Let’s not let them have that harvest.