A few years ago, when asked, I told people that I followed politics the way people follow sports. I listened to NPR non-stop, downloaded podcasts about the news and politics, and read political news online. This culminated in the 2008 election with two Democratic Presidential candidates that were outstanding. Having the first viable female and black candidates was just so great. When Barack Obama won the election and gave the best political speech I've ever heard live from the park in Chicago, I felt that everything was new.
Well, that didn't work out. I've lost hope and haven't seen much change. So it goes.
There is a silver lining. I thought of it while I was out on a run this afternoon. I don't waste much time with politics any more (other than to call the President and Arne Duncan chickenshit). I don't pay much attention to news at all.
The real change occurred in April when I went out West for a week with my friend. While there we swore off television. Internet access was spotty. We turned on the radio only to plug in an MP3 player and crank some tunes. By the time I got home I was used to not hearing the news.
I was raised to believe that news is important. On my run today I decided that's crap. I don't check the weather report, why do I need to know what's going on in Wisconsin's recall?
Citizen's United took me out of politics. One vote doesn't matter. Money wins elections. It always has. The Roberts court just made it into law. Following the news just makes me crazy.
This afternoon after my run, I sat outside. I talked with my neighbors, watched my daughters ride bikes, pet the dog, read poetry, and listened to the wind. None of that would have been made any better by knowing the news.
I write more, run more, and spend more time with my wife and children when I'm not tied up in the news. I smile more when I don't listen to politics. Just look at how angry I was in yesterday's essay to see the ill effects the news has on me.
I'm not saying I won't ever listen to NPR. I'm not saying that I won't vote. I'm not even saying that you shouldn't keep up with the news and politics. I am saying only that it's not for me right now. I'm reminded of a section of Naomi Shihab Nye's phenomenal poem "The Art of Disappearing":
It's not that you don't love them anymore.Forget politics. Forget the news. I'm just going to write on and on.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.