Meryl Streep's Golden Globes Speech Matters, but Only If You Make It

Oh, Meryl Streep. Just when it seemed like you couldn't be more perfect, you got up at the Golden Globes and said all the things so many people feel about President-elect Donald Trump.

Being honored at the Globes with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Streep's powerful speech hinged on the idea that empathy is an important tool to give voice to the powerless.

"There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job," Streep said.

"It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back.

"It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can't get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life."

She went on to implore her audience of stars ensure they do more than just speak out against a president that makes them uncomfortable.

"And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

"This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution.

"So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we're gonna need them going forward, and they'll need us to safeguard the truth.

The speech has been trending on Facebook and Twitter for hours. It lit up the night like a constellation of shooting stars. It got people talking again about Trump, about power, about what's wrong with politics today.

Well, it did that in "blue" social media feeds.

In the "red" feeds, it was a rag to a bull. It was another example of "elites" talking down to "real Americans". Of the "smug liberalism" that led to Trump's surprise victory in the rust belt.

While my friends were talking about how much they loved Streep and sharing transcripts of her words on Facebook, millions of Americans were feeling chastised and criticized.

Maybe they missed Meryl's opener, about Hollywood's diversity.

"Who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It's just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey.

"Viola was born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn.

"Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?

"And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London—no, in Ireland I do believe, and she's here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia."

Maybe they didn't.

Maybe it doesn't matter what a famous person says, or how many times it's shared. In fact, I suspect it really doesn't matter at all.

What does matter is what we all do with the goodwill and agreement we feel when we hear someway say something we agree with. Something we believe is important.

When you hear Meryl Streep, or any other person you admire, say something political you agree with, remember two things:

  1. Saying something isn't the whole job, you've got to back it up with action.
  2. Just because you agree, doesn't mean the world will change.

It's nice to think that every click of the like button, every share, every status or tweet, every selfie with hashtags, will make some kind of difference. It's so nice to think it. But it simply isn't true.

We will not beat hate, fear and division by speaking at the people we disagree with. It will make us feel better, but it won't shift votes, or stop policy changes or alter the make-up of Congress.

Hard work talking to people you disagree with, cold hard cash for the organizations you care about, support for the people who need it: These are the actions that change lives, change minds, change governments.

None of it is easy, none of it is fun (although you meet wonderful, wonderful people when you fight together for a common cause), and sometimes, you get your heart broken when you fail to make change.

But here's something to consider. Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States.

What would you rather tell your children, your nieces and nephews, your friends' youngsters? That you shared a lot of statuses that articulated how you felt? Or that you stood up and said, "I believe this, and this is what I'm going to do about it."

I know which I prefer. And I think, from what Streep said, that she's not planning on simply making speeches either.

So, because it's a good life motto no matter what you do, be more like Meryl. Lend your voice, your money, and your passion to a cause close to your heart.

As Meryl says: "Take your broken heart and turn it into art"—and activism and protest.

It's so much more satisfying than clicking like. I promise.

Want some ideas on how to get active? We've got you covered.