Sultana Khan is a social justice advocate who works in youth development. Previously, she worked as a national security correspondent and cultural commentator for Gawker Media.

I spent the final weeks of 2017 wondering if I could keep writing this column. At several points over the last year, it’s felt like a Herculean effort to continue publicly pondering the state of our world, and the ways in which we could and should be resisting the morally bankrupt oligarchy that is our government. As our world seemed to spin ever faster on its axis, each day’s news cycle stretched the limits of reality. As the holidays approached, I wondered if there could ever be a point in the future where I would look back in relief, as if this time was merely a chaotic blip on the timeline of our country’s history.

Honestly, I don’t think any of us will, and that leaves me with an even more alarming sensation — the strangely hopeful feeling of nervous anticipation for the kind of future an active and organized progressive party may bring. This isn’t to say I don’t feel utter despair at times over the openly racist and bigoted rhetoric spouted by the corpulent wad of chewing gum and hair leading our country. I do. Every day.

But my hope in retaining the feeling of dawning horror as I watched the returns on election night, and the sense of righteous fury I find myself laboring under every time the president tweets, might just ensure I never have to feel that way again. The exhaustion I feel at having to remain vigilant and proactive in order to ensure my country doesn’t continue down this hellish path is tempered by the knowledge that my complacency with the system made me complicit in the election of the current regime. If I’d done more than vote, the barest minimum of what should be expected of every citizen, perhaps we wouldn’t be here right now.

And if this is just the way things are now, these surges of participation and watchfulness thanks to the trickery and bullshit our congressional bodies are trying to pull on us, is that such a terrible thing? I think we’ve come too far to ever truly relax our vigilance in the face of the bigotry and hatred we know was boiling under the surface, and is now bubbling over the edge. We’ve seen too much to turn around now.

All of this is to say I’ve decided that if you can all call your senators and congressional delegates until their voicemails break and their beleaguered staffers sound exhausted to the point of tears, I can keep writing this small column, however insignificant it may seem to me at times. In the spirit of this tender hope, I’d like to leave you with a few affirmations for your continued allyship in 2018. May these mantras and words guide the work you do in your communities every day.

I will work to create a just world for myself and for future generations. I will take care of myself and my community. I will commit myself to prioritizing the voices and perspectives of marginalized communities. I will frame my willingness to engage in difficult dialogues as an act of love. I will listen more than I will speak. I will recognize my privilege and use it to support and uplift those with lesser access to resources.

I will educate myself rather than relying on the generosity of others. I will offer myself (and others) a measure of grace when I fall short of my own expectations. I commit to intervening, educating, and empathizing in situations where it is possible to shift perspectives. I will ask for a graciously receive the wisdom of others who have made my path possible. I will fight. I will win. I will love.

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