Pick One

Earlier today, I posted this as my Facebook status–

We are being inundated with potential threats, with things that Must Be Stopped Immediately. This is a technique of the ruling oligarchic class to silence citizens who might otherwise have agency in a situation. I invite you to choose a couple of areas in which to actively engage and throw your weight behind efforts to right this course. Whether you choose to dismantle racism, to strive for marriage equality, to destroy patriarchy–let those be your issues, your effort. Each one of us cannot do it all. But each of us can choose one thing and engage it, energetically, socially, spiritually, magically. That way lies wholeness, and something like freedom. That way lies the appropriate uses of power. Seize them.


To be honest, I’ve been writing this or something similar for over a year. When we were in meetings for the One Billion Rising event last February, I became discombobbled by the number of seemingly disparate events that were poised to wreck my focus and give me nightmares.  Social media takes many of us into places we’d never ordinarily go and burns images on our brains that are not easily forgotten. For people who care about things in the world like justice and fair play, it can be grueling to simply acknowledge the level of dysfunction that sets us into fight-or-flight patterns when all we really want to do is catch up with old friends.

For myself–and only for me–I determined that I would claim three areas of passionate engagement.  Three.  It doesn’t mean I don’t care about the issues that are yours. It means that I can’t do or fix or even contemplate it all and I have to ration my outrage. So when something is one of my areas, I engage as much as I can, given my own limitations.

This technique has worked to keep me engaged and activated, with some sense that I have agency (no matter how minuscule an amount) in the world of the world. We are often triggered into a place where neither flight nor fight are possible and there we stand, burning out our adrenal system while steam pours from our ears.

The step after that, of course, is disengagement. Or depression. Or self-medication.

What is the one thing you could choose to engage with? Political corruption in your own town? Availability of potable water? Animal abuse?  When you can steel yourself to choose one thing, then you can write a letter to the editor of your local paper. You can speak out at rallies or meetings or conferences. You can become the expert on that thing and you can teach others what you know. In this way, we strengthen ourselves, our families, or communities and begin to practice real resilience.

Pick one. Expand your knowledge base. Teach yourself, then teach the people.





5 thoughts on “Pick One

  1. Hello Ms Byron! You are right, it is impossible to tackle all causes effectively and one must choose the cause which that person is most passionate about. But alas, there is a dark side to this, one which I have experienced first hand. The problem arises when an individual, say a progressive woman running for City Council (I will mention no names), is told by someone that they will not support that person because of the stance on one particular issue. Focusing too much on a single issue makes us myopic. If a candidate is pro-development, but for equal rights for women, marriage equality, alternative energy solutions, and expanding funding for education, should that person be rejected because of the single issue that is close to you? So yes, we should take on the causes we are passionate about (environmental issue in my case), but we must be careful not to lose sight of the larger picture in the process.

    Miss you!! Hope to get by and see you soon.

    • That’s the curse of the modern political set-up. She wasn’t allowed to be multi-dimensional. And she was too nice to play the kind of dirty and vacuous game that most of the others were happily doing. Hope to see you soon, too. Look out for those runners tomorrow!

  2. I agree with your conclusion that it is best two pick one or two causes and devote your energies to them, rather than to try to serve every Good Cause.

    But I reject the conspiratorial “technique of the ruling oligarchic class,” because I do see Good Causes as rising from grassroots recognition that This is a problem and That is a problem and That Over There is a problem too. Next you will be saying that the village library board is controlled by oligarchic string-pullers.

    No, oligarchists just want us to watch television and buy stuff.

    • Thanks for that, Chas. But it’s hardly a binary. The oligarchic class (sorry for that ridiculous jargon) can want and achieve both. And more. They have rather a lot of resources.

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