Fighting Trump’s Tyranny: Eye Contact and Small Talk

Shortly after the election of Donald Trump, I felt a compelling urge … even a need … to be visible with my disapproval of the outcome of the election. I created prototypes of black armbands and my husband and I wore them for a while.

But they didn’t have the reaction I had anticipated. In fact, most people simply ignored them.

From Armbands to Buttons…

The next effort was to create buttons. With the help of a friend, we designed a logo and I had 500 buttons manufactured.  We started wearing them every day and carrying a few in our pockets wherever we went. When people commented on the buttons or we saw them looking, we offered them a button. This happened in the subway, on the street, in restaurants, in meetings, with friends and in the midst of strangers.

I offered to send anyone who emailed me ten of them for free. And I got many requests. Batches of buttons went out every week. We placed a second order for buttons and then a third.  We sent them to California and Alaska and Connecticut and Colorado and many states in between.

Two friends, Jim and Brian, asked for buttons in bulk and have now ordered some directly from the button printing company.

We’ve now distributed more than 2,000 buttons and we keep right on giving them out.

To what end, you might ask?

Sink Tyranny with Eye Contact & Small Talk

I will quote the remarkable little book written by Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

Snyder’s twelfth lesson on how to hold tyranny at bay is this:

Make eye contact and small talk.

This, Snyder goes on to say, is not just polite. It is part of being a citizen and a responsible member of society. It is also a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social barriers, and understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

In the most dangerous of times, those who escape and survive generally know people whom they can trust. Having old friends is the politics of last resort. And making new ones is the first step toward change.

The resist buttons are a visible sign of our beliefs. In wearing them and distributing them to friends and strangers, they create a web of connections and shared values. In essence, we’re facilitating making eye contact and small talk.

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Join the Fight Against Tyranny

If you would like some Resist buttons, contact me with your name and address and I’ll send you ten (10) at no charge. If you want to start giving them out in larger quantities, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the printing company so you can order a batch of your own.

I believe that we must stand up against the forces that seek to damage our Democracy. Wearing a resist button is one small way we can do that. Perhaps it matters more than we might imagine.

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or, saunter on over to Facebook and share your comments there.