It's used by the suffragettes when they finally give up on changing the system from within and advocating with their impassioned pleas, and changed tactics to take disruptive actions to achieve their aim of Votes for Women. And the concept of "deeds not words" is true, basically a maxim of any theory of social change. If we've learned anything from this election on a universal basis, I hope it's the fruitlessness of posting on Facebook or social media only. It's how we all got our news, but it's a big echo chamber of people who agree with you. Change in the real world cannot be slacktivist, it must be done through grassroots mobilization, through calls, through peaceful protest, through volunteering, through donation.
But I'd like to put this "deeds not words" thing down, flip it and reverse it. I've found myself using this term to evaluate President-elect Donald J. Trump and I think it's a befitting measuring stick we should all use. For the liberals and progressives and Democrats among us, I think it will help us maintain some sanity and steady on the helm. (And not only because we cannot trust his word, since he's been "Pants on Fire", "False" or "Mostly False" 60% of the time out of 334 claims on Politifact....seriously, I can't really fathom living my life where only 15% of what I said was "Mostly True" or "True"....I'm pretty sure I would be unemployable if that were the case)
But more importantly because "deeds not words" put any other way is pretty much how we roll here in the United States of America...
[Read more below the jump]
People have been speaking lately of the outcome of Donald Trump's on the record statements yesterday to the NY Times which includes a number of "walk back" statements. When it comes to my issues of priority on this blog, Trump's stance on climate change has been severe. As has his choice of lead over the EPA transition as Myron Ebell - a rabid climate change denier and climate science contrarian.
There have been positive stories in the wake of Trump's win on November 8 when it comes to climate change. Not only advocacy from non-profits and using projected art to protest on the EPA building, but also China coming out and baldly stating it is not a hoax and they will take a leadership role, as well as the global business community with many American companies urging Trump to uphold the commitments.
But here's where we have to be extra careful. Here's where "deeds not words" comes into play. President-elect Donald Trump has been covered in the media as softening or walking back his stance, but all he's actually said is he's "open" amidst a lot of typical nonsense that people usually point to in the American Republican party as reasons to not deal with this issue. Read his statements for yourself below (emphasis added by me) and then I'll pick up the key highlights further down:
TRUMP: I’m looking at it very closely, Tom. I’ll tell you what. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. It’s one issue that’s interesting because there are few things where there’s more division than climate change. You don’t tend to hear this, but there are people on the other side of that issue who are, think, don’t even …
But a lot of smart people disagree with you. I have a very open mind. And I’m going to study a lot of the things that happened on it and we’re going to look at it very carefully. But I have an open mind.
SULZBERGER: Well, since we’re living on an island, sir, I want to thank you for having an open mind. We saw what these storms are now doing, right? We’ve seen it personally. Straight up.
FRIEDMAN: But you have an open mind on this?
TRUMP: I do have an open mind. And we’ve had storms always, Arthur.
SULZBERGER: Not like this.
TRUMP: You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views. I have a totally open mind.
My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind. I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important.
And you know, you mentioned a lot of the courses. I have some great, great, very successful golf courses. I’ve received so many environmental awards for the way I’ve done, you know. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work where I’ve received tremendous numbers. Sometimes I’ll say I’m actually an environmentalist and people will smile in some cases and other people that know me understand that’s true. Open mind.
JAMES BENNET, editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?
TRUMP: I think right now … well, I think there is some connectivity. There is some, something. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.
They’re really largely noncompetitive. About four weeks ago, I started adding a certain little sentence into a lot of my speeches, that we’ve lost 70,000 factories since W. Bush. 70,000. When I first looked at the number, I said: ‘That must be a typo. It can’t be 70, you can’t have 70,000, you wouldn’t think you have 70,000 factories here.’ And it wasn’t a typo, it’s right. We’ve lost 70,000 factories.
We’re not a competitive nation with other nations anymore. We have to make ourselves competitive. We’re not competitive for a lot of reasons.
That’s becoming more and more of the reason. Because a lot of these countries that we do business with, they make deals with our president, or whoever, and then they don’t adhere to the deals, you know that. And it’s much less expensive for their companies to produce products. So I’m going to be studying that very hard, and I think I have a very big voice in it. And I think my voice is listened to, especially by people that don’t believe in it. And we’ll let you know.
- He's referencing "division" on climate change and "not sure we're ever going to really know" when the facts are that 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists are in agreement.
- He's saying a "lot of smart people" disagree, which is solely due to a "anything-but-scientific survey" from an oil/gas funded fake non-profit funded by the Koch Brothers that had thousands of scientists sign on, when in reality only 77 people who signed had more than half their papers published in a scientific journal of their peers. Aka, a lot of non-climate-scientists and random people that we shouldn't consider experts.
- He's trying to normalize the fact that we've always had storms which is kind of like how a Senator went onto the floor and held up a snowball to say global warming was a "hysteria" because it's cold outside (must see: my favorite tweet ever on this). There's proof that climate change is making weather patterns "on steroids", aka more extreme and frequent.
- He's pointing to the hottest temperature recorded in Death Valley to avoid talking about 2016 as on lock the hottest year on record and the 16 hottest years all since 2000, with the top four since 2010.
- He closes out with the most non-committal "I'll let you know".
Do not be complacent in the face of a serial liar that exhibits authoritarian and fascist elements of his leadership style. The research on how to survive an autocrat is simple:
#1 - Believe the autocrat
#2 - Do not be taken in by small signs of normality
#3 - Institutions will not save you
#4 - Be outraged
#5 - Do not make compromises
#6 - Remember the future.
The best way to remember #1 and #2 in my book is the simple: DEEDS NOT WORDS mantra. The media who is looking for ways to soften their stance so they can maintain access to a Trump administration may have covered his statement on climate as "walking it back". But as shown above, he did not. He did nothing that would commit himself to serious consideration of this issue, and gave himself many, many "outs" for how to maintain his current position.
When we look at what he's done, his position is clear. The climate change denier to lead at EPA, the oil executive to lead transition at Dept of Interior, the lead at NASA is going to cut funding to their Earth science research division.
Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Look for deeds, not words.
And when it comes to resisting and fighting these forces, deploy that yourself. Deeds not words. Take action and don't be a slacktivist. That did not turn out so well for us on 11/9.
If you are like me, the positions we have taken lead people to a lot of misunderstanding. They distance themselves. They mislabel. I've been called hateful and mean. I've been cursed at. All since the election. It can be a lonely experience to go through. I feel sometimes like I am out on a limb. But I go through the exercise of reminding myself that I am not alone. We are not alone. We are stronger together. There are millions with us in the abstract. And up close and personally, there are people in my life who are there with me. We have to find our tribe of people who will support and sustain us through the sometimes difficult other interactions.
Stay inspired on the journey of "deeds not words", and if you need a dose of inspiration, here's one of my favorites from the movie Suffragette. #6 - remember the future. Always.
The woman wanderer goes forth to seek the land of freedom. "How am I to get there?"
Reason answers, "There is one way and one way only. Down the banks of labor, through the waters of suffering, there is no other."
The woman, having discarded all to which she had formerly clung, cries out "For what do I go to this land which no one has ever reached? I am alone, I am utterly alone."
And Reason, said to her, "Silence. What do you hear?"
And she said, "I hear the sound of feet. A thousand times, ten thousands and thousands of thousands and they beat this way."
"They are the feet of those that shall follow you. Lead on."
-From Dreams as seen in the movie Suffragette