Nick Raven mug

Nick Raven

Hey. How are you doing?

It feels really weird right now, doesn’t it?

I’ll be honest with you: I’d written another cheerier piece to go in this space today. But like so many of my peers and colleagues right now, I’m an American who’s anxious about my country, a country that’s supposed to be the greatest in the world. It wasn’t that long ago that I believed the only places in the world that could declare with a loud voice that women have less bodily autonomy than a corpse were run by despotic warlords tooling around in the stolen, worn down Mercedes-Benzes of the previous regime. And yet here we are, hearing it from the highest court of the United States of America.

It feels strange that we got rid of that last guy, although not without an incredible fight and an insurrection enabled by his colleagues in Congress, and yet it seems like we’ve only been picking trash off the beach before the Roe v. Wade tsunami rolled in. And it won’t be the last wave, oh no. As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, we have to remember that it’s OK to be disappointed in or angry about your country for this reason or many, many others.

I’m frustrated that this city I love, Colorado Springs, still seems to operate with the mindset that we’re a tourist town with an Army camp on the outskirts. Good luck facilitating change until we can pay city councilors a living wage and support them with more staffing. I’m tired of this city not embracing a higher minimum wage beyond the call of the state, as though it costs just as much to live here as it does in Calhan.

I’m frustrated that the county I live in seems to think that Judge Orr and Marksheffel roads require the exact same logistical attention. I’m tired of addressing absurd and easily-debunked right-wing conspiracies when there’s another dozen right behind them.

Why would any of this make you feel patriotic this weekend? Why would any of this make you feel, as Lee Greenwood put it, “proud to be an American?”

This is the point in most other think-pieces where they would tell you it’s OK to despair and address your feelings of hopelessness constructively over a pint of ice cream before concluding with “well, someone smarter than us will devise solutions for this dour moment, but please vote and donate in the meantime.” As I write this in a restless rustle, I hope to provide some guidance.

You have to get involved
As a Colorado Springs nerd, I sat in on the final virtual presentation of the COS Airport Master Plan before it’s turned over to City Council for their vote. There were six people on the call, including the presenters. Six. This is the guiding document for the airport’s future development over the next two decades with a $1.2 billion ask and yet only five other people tuned in. There are presentations, meetings and studies that are free and publicly available with city departments that are starving for input, but citizens are simply not showing up until something goes horribly wrong far down the road.

This is 100 percent a case of an ounce of prevention being better than a pound of cure. Riots and protests are a symptom of greater societal sickness, but what if we could avoid the illness to begin with? Through engagement, what if we could convince some future Lauren Boebert to better serve their community instead of running for office on a platform of conspiracies and falsehoods?

It’s extremely tempting to go H.A.M. on the Facebook commentor who continues to laugh about COVID deaths or renewable energy, but don’t argue with that jerk on social media, block them. You don’t owe them crap, especially when nothing you do or say is going to change their mind anyway.

Therapy is amazing
We need to remember our empathy and compassion for those who are learning and on the verge of a breakthrough. You can toss all the molotovs you want, but sometimes people are defensibly curious and trying to figure the world out. I’ve been in the opposing camp and on the fence for decades, but with the support and patience of good people, I’ve been able to turn the corner on those ideas.

Also, $25 is a big ask for many in these times and while the daily Joe & Kamala fundraising e-mails are enticing, but you’ll be better off giving your political donations and contributions to a local candidate running in your neighborhood or a local nonprofit helping at-risk and vulnerable individuals.

We just had a primary here in Colorado and only 31 percent of the ballots, which were sent out to every single registered voter, were returned. You owe it to yourself and others to speak your voice. Even when you’re staring down a string of offices with only a single candidate running, bubble them in. Take that ballot, fill it out, send it back in. When you fail to vote for your causes, the other person will vote for theirs.

You are not alone
Finally, it’s tempting to believe that we need to radically change our lifestyles to save the world, but the world is too large for any single person to take on with themselves. It’s easy to fall into absolutist thinking this way, that something is all wrong or all right, but there’s a nuance we miss in times of crisis. One day it’s 32 wins and 42 losses, the next day it’s the other way around. We may need to move mountains to make the world better, but we only need to do it one rock at a time.

So now that I’ve asked you to donate and vote, please enjoy your pint of ice cream this holiday weekend and remember your optimism.

We can still win this.

— Staff notes originally run in our daily email newsletter, Indy Now, along with news updates, photos of the day, a weekly poll and more. Sign up below.