5 Ways to Stay Strong When Society is Breaking

Reducing harm and staying (relatively) sane amid chaos

Tim Wise


Photo by Echo Grid on Unsplash

It’s not your imagination — American civil society is in deep trouble. Some days it feels as though it’s falling apart altogether.

To review:

  • Right-wing parents are threatening school boards and teachers over honest discussions about racism in American history and COVID mask mandates.
  • Domestic right-wing terror plots and incidents are on the rise, eclipsing the threat posed by foreign or Islamist violence.
  • Eight in ten Republicans tell pollsters, “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”
  • According to one recent survey, as many as 21 million Americans believe Donald Trump should be restored to power by force.
  • Others openly ask when they “get to use the guns” to kill Democrats and liberals.

This is how a nation dies.

For years, I’ve signed copies of my books with the inscription, “Stay Strong.”

But what does that mean amid deliberate efforts to weaken the foundations of democracy itself?

There are no definitive answers, but nothing to be gained from standing still. And so here are a few ideas, however imperfect.

Staying strong for the fight ahead — a 5-point plan

1. Find your people

If we’re going to remain strong in the face of all that confronts us, we can’t go it alone. Only by joining with others of like mind might we stand a chance. And to join with others, you have to find them.

Some already have their people thanks to strong community organizations, progressive faith communities, even groups of like-minded persons at work.

But many don’t have that. Millions of people who fear what’s happening in this country feel alone. COVID has only intensified that isolation.

We’re going to need to start building concentric circles of support.

Even if these begin as you and the person you bump into walking your dog every day



Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)