An Alternative 100 Day Action Plan
With the recent presidential election comes the release of an action plan for the first 100 days. People are trying to figure out how to respond to the current political climate. Some are protesting while others are rejoicing. Some are wearing safety pins to show they are a safe person while others have resorted to violence and hateful speech.
These days are tumultuous and what we as individuals and communities do is essential to our own health and well being as well as critical for the good of our shared humanity. We are in this together whether we like it or not.
On election night I posted this in Facebook: Everyday is still a new day to make a choice and cast a vote and direct action in the way of love. We can still choose to love all humans. Love and welcome refugees. Advocate for justice. Call out racism and white privilege where it rears its ugly head. Stand up for equality. Honor women. Recognize the dignity of all persons. We can do better and be better. We are made for more.
But here’s another thing I know: unless I get specific with how to live this out, I won’t move effectively beyond words and feelings. I need a plan of action. I need to shape a specific rhythm of life that incorporates specific practices to carry this out.
In talking about how to love, the writer of 1 John says, “let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.” (3:18)
What follows are the key building blocks that make up an alternative 100 day action plan that can help us put flesh and bones on our desire to truly love well.
Some Ideas for Your Own 100 Day Plan:
Immerse Yourself in God’s Radically Inclusive Story of Love
Loving others begins by being rooted in the story of creation, where all humans are created equally in God’s image. God proclaims his creation is very good, and then he sends these very good humans to be a blessing to the rest of creation and to all people everywhere.
Follow the story and notice the recurring command to love: the foreigner, the outsider, the refugee, the poor, the widow, the marginalized, the sinner, even our enemies. The plot always moves in the direction of love.
100 Day Action Plan:
- Read part of God’s Story everyday – start with the passages linked above. Put the above words in the search function to see what the Bible says about loving others. (If everyday is too much – choose what you can commit to for 100 days: 3 days / week = 42 passages, 5 days / week = 70 passages)
- Read through the Gospels noticing Jesus radical ways of love and welcome. (4 Gospels in 100 days = about one month per Gospel)
- Work through this 40 Days of Scripture and Prayer List (bookmark pdf)
Learn the Stories of People Unlike You
If love happens with action and truth — then we must learn the truth. Our experience only exposes us to so much. We all carry bias and have blindspots. Our world views are shaped by the people we know, the information we consume, and the things we immerse ourselves in. To love others means knowing others, listening to their stories and experiences, being in relationship. It also means growing in self-awareness.
100 Day Action Plan:
- Find humans unlike you and get to know them. Listen. Learn their names. Exchange stories. Don’t stay in your own bubble. And don’t think social media is a substitute for relational engagement.
- (*Note: Many people will have to go outside of their own church and regular gathering places to do this)
- Pick one or two books to read in the next 100 days. You can finish a 300 page book by reading just 3 pages a day. That ain’t much. (See some suggested reads at the end of this post.)
- Find a church or an organization like World Relief and get personally involved in helping a refugee.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter, a woman’s shelter, or in teaching English as a second language
The struggle is real. Here’s another post I recently made, and I think it is essential in this next season.
People are grieving, so give grace, give space, allow for venting, hurt, frustration, anger to be expressed. It’s not about a candidate as much as about a long history of words and experiences and actions “against” that makes people feel unwanted, not valued, not seen, not treated as equal, not honored for their full beauty and humanity. It’s about gender and race and sexuality and the horrible treatment many have experienced around that. For many the grief is a loss of hope and it’s very personal. Regardless of what you think, people are hurting. So be careful with your words and posts. Be generous with love and grace. Respect and honor each person you encounter.
Establish a Daily Gratitude & Meditation Practice
There is a ton of research out there that demonstrates how we can rewire our brain, impact our health and wellness, and revolutionize how we act in the world by these simple practices. God designed us this way, and not surprisingly, science supports arees.
If we are to be agents of love, overcome fear, and face whatever hits us each day, we need to begin each day from a healthy place. Gratitude and meditation practices help us do just that. They help us check in with our body, soul, heart, and mind. They help us open ourselves to God in thanksgiving and prayer. They make us more socially aware and socially engaged for good. They help make us become a non-anxious presence in our often reactive, chaotic environments.
100 Day Action Plan:
- Take five minutes each day to list / journal what you are grateful for
- Option: Use the 5 Minute Journal App
- Be specific, and list the small things along with the big things
- Practice at least 10 minutes of meditation daily
- I recommend the Headspace App
- Practice Spiritual Respiration
- John Wesley talked about how the spiritual life is like breathing. We inhale God’s life breath and exhale attitudes and behaviors
- I suggest matching this to actual breathing practices: as you inhale, visualize God’s love, grace, etc filling you; as you exhale, visualize the way you want to be in the world
- Box Breathing
- Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts. Repeat.
- You can practice this anywhere and it will give you calm, focus, and renewed energy.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
A friend of mine recently posted that in addition to tithing to the local church, he was going to start giving to organizations / non-profits making a difference in the social sector. Giving is a tangible way to make a difference in issues that we may not have the expertise, tools, or means to engage in– but we can fund others.
My church supports lots of great causes / organizations / people. But I can and want to do more. For example, I chose to give to support Standing Rock while also learning more about the story of dislocation and dehumanization of the first peoples of the United States. Others suggest giving to the ACLU. There are a lot of options.
I want to engage my local neighborhood, so I do things like run a 5k to raise funds for Freedom Schools, work out at a gym whose mission is to offer accessible health and fitness to the community. I look to those who are on the ground, in relationship, and making a difference and I support them.
100 Day Action Plan:
- Increase your giving by ___% each month
- Give $1 / day or $10 / day in the next 100 days towards a cause making a difference (that’s a total of $100-$1000 — don’t break the bank, but do be generous)
- If you don’t feel like you have any money to give — what do you have? Give that.
Practice the Way of Non-Violence
There is a legacy of change and impact brought to our nation and to other nations through the practice of non-violence. This is the way of Jesus. This is the way of other great leaders who have gone before us. As people turn to violence in protest and violence out of fear, this is a critical time to learn from those show us a better and more peaceful path.
100 Day Action Plan:
- Study the ways of Non-violence / Ethics / Protests
- Engage in a peaceful protest. This freedom is part of living in our democratic nation. It is uncomfortable and beautiful. And yes, it may be dangerous.
- Find out from local agencies what petitions you can sign or letters you can send to government representatives that will effect policy change.
Find Mentors and Guides Further Along than You
We are not meant to go through life alone. We will never be able to read enough or figure it all out on our own. Often what we most need is to reach out and humble ourselves before wise guides who can show the way.
100 Day Action Plan:
- Find a wise guide and ask them “what can I do”?
- Find a gathering of people learning about an issue you are interested in
- Explore the CCDA and other organizations that have conferences, gatherings, resource lists
- Read stories from “the other”.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
- Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
- Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
- Andrew Marin, Us versus Us: The Untold Story of Religion and the LGBT Community
- Jose Antonio Vargas, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant”, NY Times
- Articles and videos on refugees linked here: wewelcomerefugees.com
- About the poverty and struggle in the Rust Belt, MSNBC
- About Native Americans and the struggle for dignity and land, MSNBC
- Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road
- Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America
- Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
- Read about the issues that divide us and how to find a way forward:
- Brian Bantum, The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World
- Paula Harris & Doug Schaupp, Being White: Finding our Place in a Multi-Ethnic World
- Christina Cleveland, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart
- Stephen Bauman, Matthew Soerens, Dr. Isaam Smeir, Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis
- Brenda Salter McNeil, Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness, and Justice