We’re in a world of trouble. Or to put it more bluntly—America is in deep shit. The empaths among us feel an overwhelming sense of doom and break down on a daily basis. The left-leaning folks are deeply depressed, drinking and toking to make it go away. The centrists and moderate Republicans among us are shocked, offended, and wondering how to get out of this deep hole we’re in. Our international allies have tried playing to Trump’s narcissism with no success because Trump’s heart belongs to Putin. To Russia with love. Our allies are now distancing themselves from the Trump regime and moving ahead with the business of the First World, leaving America behind.

The only people pleased with the reign of terror are the right-leaning one percenters who are above the fray and profiting mightily from these times and the duped underclass who buy the propaganda machine and blame everything on the people poorer and browner than them. Oh, and Russian oligarchs who now have a solid American foothold. And dirt on Trump which may have something to do with golden showers, golden towers, collusion, and money laundering. Our country is definitely compromised due to Trump’s history of bad loans, bad deals, and bailouts involving shady characters and countries.

The Founding Fathers planned for so many things but they never planned for a President who was as morally bereft and unqualified for the job. They apparently didn’t anticipate the sway reality TV would have on the American people and its ability to trump proper vetting of candidates for the highest office in the land.

How do we—the ones who aren’t the one percent or the duped—continue on without being overcome by despair as our republic implodes from the inside out? How do we continue with a President who plays dirty, wears down his opponents, and wins at all costs? How do we hold onto our morality and sensibility when faced with bold-face lies and fascism trial balloons—such as tearing apart asylum-seeking families, putting children in cages, and making toddlers appear in court without their families? How do we not crumble into ball—permanently frozen in a fetal position?

Here’s how. Although it is distressing to live in such times, we must pace ourselves. We must stay strong, stay sane, stay the course, and never ever normalize crazy, evil, or brutal behavior. It is never okay—not even when the people on whom such behavior is inflicted are called “illegals,” “animals,” “beasts,” “subhuman,” “criminals.” We must never believe the lies no matter how many times they are repeated. Brainwashing works and we must stay alert and awake. Remember: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. People still believe this lie. The lie that triggered an 8-year war and trillions of dollars of taxpayer money wasted in the desert. The current brainwashing memes are: the Russia investigation is a witch hunt. There was no collusion. Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election. All lies. No matter how many times they’re repeated.

Keep perspective. In many ways America has lost its way. We have major overreach in the executive branch with a man who would be king and the other two branches of government are compromised by forces of corruption. Dark money is funneling to people in positions of power charged with protecting the republic, but in most cases those people are more interested in protecting their pocketbooks. Our government is being tested like never before and it’s not clear that it will withstand the blows being dealt to it. But here’s where I turn to optimism in the long run.

In the short run to live through this when you’re a reasonable, rational, compassionate person is trying and excruciatingly painful at times. It helps to take the long view. In 50 years, students will study this dark period of American history where corruption engulfed our government at every level, and where profits were valued over people. Every time. But history is a pendulum and this swing to the right will be followed by a swing to the left. Or, if you prefer, this retraction is the archer pulling the bow back as far as she can to propel the arrow forward. This regression into greed, gluttony, uncivilized behavior, brutality, cult of personality, individualism, and corruption will be followed by an American Spring characterized by compassion, sacrifice, integrity, and goodness. Why? Because we will have seen the viciousness of the descent into evil with money as our God and we will fight to show ourselves and the world that this is not who we are. This. Is. Not. Who. We. Are.

You cannot retreat from these times. Do not become apathetic, distracted, or jaded beyond repair. You must carve out your corner of the world and make a difference. Vote, organize, protest, volunteer, canvass, and campaign. Every action that says: this is not who we are makes a difference. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t matter. This is our country, not theirs. We must seize it from the clutches of the corrupt who are in it for their private gain. Our country is just a pawn to them. Once they have amassed enough riches and power, they will live out their years in their golden palatial mansions on their private islands with their planes and yachts while the rest of us live on raided social safety nets.

You matter. We matter. Please don’t surrender to despair. That’s what they want you to do. If you do, Trump will continue his reign of terror with his military parades, media outlets as propaganda units, racist and sexist policies of cruelty, and personally profiting from public office.

Our future is in your hands. What will you do with it?