Thursday, November 10, 2016

What You Gonna Do?


Let me take you away from the election analysis and the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it predictions. Let me take you back to 1982, when Richard Pryor was on Sunset Strip, talking about his drug problems and his good friend, Jim Brown.

Jim Brown was not someone to mess with, as Pryor relates in this classic clip. Watch it, if you don't mind a little vulgarity. (Hell, if Tuesday taught us anything, it's that we don't mind vulgarity. At least with Pryor, it's amusing.)

The clip's unforgettable line is: What you gonna do? Brown followed Pryor around relentlessly, ignoring the in-your-face drug use, and asking one simple, direct question: What you gonna do, Richard? What you gonna do?

It's the perfect question for today. What you gonna do? And I don't mean What we gonna do? I mean you. This is the time for personal response and individual action. If you don't like the election results, step up. Do something.

What am I gonna do? I'm gonna be the Jewish momma and give you a push in a positive direction:

  1. Don't despair. Don't wallow in the sorrow and fear. As I posted on Facebook, Wednesday was the time to grieve, to reassure our children, to console each other. To be angry. And understandably afraid. Today is the time to act. 
  2. Look at the popular vote. Look at the millennial vote. Realize that there are MILLIONS of people who didn't choose anger and hate. There are millions of people who don't look at women and Jews and and blacks and Muslims and gays and Hispanics and disabled people and see an "Other" to be feared or despised or abused or grabbed or shunned. 
  3. Find those good people. They are in your community. They are all around us. 
  4. Work with them. Take decisive, constructive steps to safeguard what you value. If you appreciate a woman's right to make choices about her healthcare, send money to Planned Parenthood, or volunteer. If you're concerned about climate change (yes, it's real), find an organization that's working on it and join them -- here's a list to get you started. 
  5. Work by yourself. Do what you can -- as one caring, engaged, concerned citizen -- to protect the ideals that truly make America great. Visit a church or mosque or synagogue. Talk to people who aren't your race or your religion or your whatever. Get off the couch, turn off your electronic devices, and engage in our beautifully diverse universe. 
  6. Get political. Run for office or volunteer for a campaign, party or issue. If memory serves, all the U.S. House of Representative seats and a few Senate seats are up for grabs in 2018. That's just two years from now. We don't have to wait for the next presidential election to create meaningful change. 
  7. Speak out. When people are being racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever, don't be silent. Don't let them get away with it -- don't shrug it off as a joke, or just one person's opinion. Prejudice and hatred are wrong, and silence is acceptance. You have a voice beyond your vote. Use it. 


As a pro football player, Jim Brown knew how to cut to the chase. His question to Richard Pryor wasn't complicated. It wasn't eloquent. It was perfect. I'm not a pro football player, but I am every bit as relentless. So I'm going to ask you one more time: What you gonna do? 

1 comment:

Ellen Taylor said...

As usual, Jan, you know how to "cut to the chase". Your suggestions are realistic,achievable, and "spot-on". Thanks for your suggestions