Did last week seem like a doozy? Here’s some great stuff that happened. Let’s celebrate.
Two great forces collude to make it easy to focus only on the negative: the media and our own minds. Media studies show that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as seventeen negative news reports for every one good news report. If we then take into account the Negativity Bias, our mind’s tendency to weigh negative things more heavily than positive things, gauging the actual state of reality becomes even more difficult. Dr. John Gottman, renown psychologist, counsels that to overcome our Negativity Bias — that is, for equal events to just feel equal — we need a 5:1 ration of positive to negative events/interactions. Think about that for a second: what we’re getting is a 1:17 ratio of good to bad but what we’d need to account for our Negativity Bias is a 85:17 ratio of good to bad.
Here’s a visual, a graph from a TEDxUCDavid talk by Professor Alison Ledgerwood. It shows how getting an academic paper accepted by a journal gives her an emotional high that lasts about as long as lunchtime, whereas getting a paper rejected by a journal makes her energy dip down…and stay there all day (at least). So we return more easily to our baseline after positive events than we rebound back to our baseline after negative events.
What does this mean for us today? It means, my fellow insisters, persisters, and resisters, that we need to get good at celebration. We need to be intentional about recognizing and celebrating all of the wonderful things that happen in our lives, communities, country, and our world. If we don’t, it will be too easy to fall into despair. But despair is not a strategy so let’s heed the words of activist and politician Ruth Messinger who writes, “I realize the magnitude of the issues we fight for may seem daunting. But we must not retreat to the convenience of being overwhelmed.”
Here’s what I’m celebrating this week — join me!
- Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator, publicly announced that she was pro-choice. It’s good to have pro-choice voices on the conservative political spectrum.
- After talks with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the financial giant ING has sold its stake in the $2.5 billion loan financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, the latest victory in the anti-pipeline divestment campaign.
- The SOZE creative agency has established a $100,000 fellowship that will award $20,000 each to five once-incarcerated artists for projects addressing reform of the criminal justice system.
- The Supreme Court voted to limit the president’s power to temporarily fill agency vacancies while nominees goes through the official confirmation process.
- A judge ruled in favor of Patch, a 27-year- old in Portland, to be recognized as genderless. Patch is now the first legally agender person in the United States. A success for self-determination!
- Colin Kaepernick, NFL player and civil rights advocate, donated $50,000 to Meals on Wheels.
- An electric utility company announced that it will shut down two coal plants in Ohio within the year, a move celebrated for its environmental implications by The Sierra Club. They also acknowledged that while this is good news for the environment, “it remains critical that the needs of the workers and the communities affected by these decisions are appropriately addressed.”
- Nevada has finally ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) — roughly 35 years after a deadline imposed by Congress. The ERA guarantees equality of rights for all sexes and as Sen. Pat Spearman (D-NV) said, “It’s never too late to support equality.”
- Louisiana announced that it is considering prison reform recommendations from a growing bipartisan coalition that would reduce the state’s prison population by 13% over the next decade and expand rehabilitation programs.
- After a powerful video of Ibn Ali Miller breaking up a street fight went viral, he was honored at an Atlantic City Council meeting this week where he graciously, and with tears in his eyes, used his speech to honor his mother. This is what our country needs! Watch here.
- New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that ICE immigration agents will not be allowed to enter schools without signed warrants from judges. The city will also hosting 100 workshops at schools to teach students, parents and staff about their rights.
- Personal trainers at Gold’s Gym’s in downtown Los Angeles announced their upcoming vote to join the United States’ first labor union of fitness industry professionals. They are seeking to address workplace issues of unpaid hours of work, sexual harassment, and excessive sales pressure from management. People power!
- Hawaii Republican Leader Rep. Beth Fukumoto resigned from the GOP this week and announced that she plans to seek membership in the Democratic Party. The move was prompted by her experiences of racism, sexism, and extreme rhetoric against bi-partisanship within the party.
- El Salvador’s controversial law banning abortion is all circumstances is close to being modified after church groups, doctors, lawyers, and bi-partisan support spoke out in favor of loosening restrictions, generating a groundswell of public support.
- Germany approved a bill that will annul the convictions of men jailed for being gay, and pay restitution to those still alive.
- Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
- The Iron Workers announced that it will offer paid maternity leave for their members — this is the first organization in the building trades to offer this benefit.
- The Supreme Court unanimously overturned a 2008 decision by Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch in favor of protecting the educational rights of children with disabilities as he was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his current nomination.
- Maryland’s Republican governor announced his support for a fracking ban currently on its way to the State Senate, saying it’s “an important initiative to safeguard our environment.”
- Virginia’s governor vetoed discriminatory legislation that sought to give taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of religion.
- California’s clean-air agency voted to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, in direct opposition to the Trump administration’s plans to loosen regulations at the expense of the environment.
- And…drum roll, please… The GOP’s American Health Care Act / Trumpcare was dead on arrival! The bill was pulled before the vote because Paul Ryan and Donald Trump knew they didn’t have the votes. We did this! We spoke up and stood up and showed up and forced them to abandon their cruel plan.*
*We should celebrate the defeat of the AHCA, not the perfection of the ACA. While having the ACA is better than not having it, we can’t be lulled into complacence. Millions are still uninsured, and many who are insured cannot access care because of ever-increasing premiums and unaffordable co-pays and deductibles. So let’s celebrate our victory in the knowledge that, until we get a single payer system that provides Medicare for all, we still have work to do!
Note: I learned about some of these events from a weekly newsletter called “Small Victories”. You can sign up here.