I set myself a personal challenge to go one week without venting my frustration on POTUS 45 on social media. There was no prize for doing so. Nobody would applaud my success or condemn my failure, unlike every single move Mr. Trump makes. I did not even announce my intentions ahead of time. This was just a personal goal of mine. I had grown weary of constantly poking my stick into the hornet’s nest and stirring up the anger until we all tried to swat it away before (or after) getting stung. It was time to see if the world kept turning with or without paying attention to the President.
I’m happy to report our blue ball of water and gas with a white hot core at its center continues to rotate at 460 meters per second (1,000 MPH) as usual. Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’.
This news also coincides with something I told a friend at the gym last week. She falls on the “conservative” side of things, but is keenly aware that I’m a registered independent with some liberal tendencies. That didn’t stop her from complaining about the current bias of the educational system, including a strong rant about how the kids are in charge of schools now and not the teachers. The gist of her gripe is that a single complaint about an offhand “Make America Great” remark is enough to get a teacher suspended or kicked off the job. Frankly I believe it’s not the job of teachers to indoctrinate students on EITHER end of our supposedly polar political spectrum, which is always imagined as being “left to right” in a way that is far too flat and one dimensional for today’s complex world.
I did not want to get caught up in explaining to her in a nuanced way that politics should be left out of the classroom the same way that religion should be left out of government – hardly a topic that befits trying to get in a workout – so instead I said this: “The problem with politics in our society today is that there’s nothing civil about our civil discourse. We’re all trying to push each other around. The left gets angry at something the right did and yells about it. The right gets mad at the left in the exact same way. It’s a bunch of angry yelling without anybody listening to the other side. It doesn’t do us any good.”
I’m not operating on the naive end of things where all of the problems in America or the world as a whole can be solved with polite conversation and careful listening. I’m willing to suggest though that on a personal level, if you go a whole week without getting angry about politics on either side, the world does not stop turning. Whatever you have to do still exists too – dinner, dishes, laundry, scooping the litter, walking the dog, taking out the trash, paying your bills, getting the mail, and so on. None of these things stop either. Sometimes it’s just healthy to reflect that politics exists in a world all unto itself. It’s not a suggestion that “ignorance is bliss” because completely ignoring what’s going on in government can lead to great evils being done in the name of “the people” that no one asked be done or signed up for. What I would say is that it’s okay to stop every now and then for a while, take a deep breath, and come back realizing the world did not end while you were gone. If any of us can take a step back and realize that it’s not a live-or-die doomsday scenario in every political skirmish, perhaps some of that missing civility in civil discourse can come back. It will take a concerted effort though and my editorial is just a lone cry in the darkness. I’ll challenge myself to be less angry and do my small part.