|Photo by Tom Curtis|
Nearly a decade ago, while living in Utah, I had a close group of family friends. Our three or four families got together for outings, barbeques, church, and camping, along with a variety of other activities.
They were terrific people, and included some of the most positive, spiritually uplifting individuals I have ever encountered.
I enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie, but there was always something I found odd.
Among our friends, which included professionals and business owners, it seemed that none of them were particularly fluent in current events.
During our conversations around the grill or on the phone, the topics usually revolved around the things going on in our neighborhood. Rarely was the topic of politics broached, and national events were hardly ever acknowledged.
Coming from "back east," where politics is often a contact sport, it was a unique existence to be surrounded by friends who didn't seem to care who was running for what office or what heinous crimes against humanity had been committed that week by the Republicans or Democrats.
Sometimes my existence was reminiscent of a place called Stepford, but the upside was that there were very few conflicts between the people in that group.
Overall, my friends seemed extremely happy, as if they were supremely satisfied by filling their days with lives that extended not much further than the end of the block.
They were content, free of the conflict that accompanies any dip in political waters.
I've been thinking about them a lot lately because my life doesn't have that level of peace.
I thought that, when I hung up my editor spurs a few months ago, the drama and frustration and endless sense of righteous indignation might subside. I wasn't plugged into the national scene as much as I was in the years before I got into the newspaper business, mostly because local politics can be all-consuming.
Don't get me wrong, I am currently living the dream. I'm writing. I'm creating worlds the way I think they should be within the pages of my novels and short stories. I'm not making any money at it (yet), but I'm doing what I absolutely love to do.
But part of my daily work includes writing articles for the MorrisWorkman.com website. A lot of those columns are topical, driven by national events as well as local politics. So I'm not completely out of the game.
Last week, my involvement in monitoring national stories included exposure to the Wall Street Protests which began on Sept. 17. I quickly became enraged at my former industry, the media, particularly their intentional decision to ignore the important story of average people protesting against the greedy and corrupt on Wall Street.
The ability of the corporate-owned media to black out such an important story made me realize that my pitiful little voice in the wilderness might just be a monumental waste of time.
It also reinforced something I've been trying to ignore for the last few years, namely that I barely recognize the country I now live in compared to the country I grew up in. They're like two different planets now.
For the last week, I've been contemplating a change in my life. I've thought about my Utah friends, and found myself a little envious of the peace and happiness they've found by choosing not to participate in political discourse.
During the last seven days, the experiment proved valid. I felt better, more at ease without the simmering anger of being dialed up about the wretched state of our nation.
I discovered that one key to happiness is to simply stop caring.
If I choose not to care what the rich are doing to the middle class, or what one side of Congress is doing to the other side of Congress, my stress level goes way down. And now that I've reached the half-century mark, I feel like I've earned the right to less stress. Particularly the self-inflicted kind.
However, during the last week, I discovered something else:
I can't not care. (nice double negative, eh?)
I'm an opinionated loudmouth who is genetically incapable of pretending that the emperor's new clothes are spiffy. I have this annoying predisposition to skeptically look toward the heavens whenever I hear that the sky is falling. I believe that every day should be open season on ostriches that hide their heads in the sand.
Most of all, I have been reminded that my favorite character in literature is Don Quixote. Like him, I'm certain that the word "kook" gets used a lot when my name comes up in some circles. That's because I'm apt to wake up in the morning, eat my bowl of Cheerios, and strap on my lance and shield in search of the nearest windmill.
I have decided that it's more important to continue the fight, even though I'm destined to lose, because there is nobility in the battle. (Goes to show what a crackpot I really am...caring a whit about "nobility" here in the 21st century).
I'm not so arrogant and egotistical as to think I can really make a difference in the grand scheme of things. But like Quixote, I have no choice but to continue fighting the good fight simply because it needs to be fought. There is honor in futility that cannot be found in surrender.
And in my warped mind, I always hold out the hope that maybe a tiny morsel might get through the babble and actually make someone out there think. I can't change the world, but if I can change one mind, maybe it's all worth it.
So I've decided to continue writing and railing.
My decision was further influenced by people who wrote to me, encouraging me to "keep at it." Some of you legitimately believe in the need for disputing voices to be heard. I'm gratified by your interest and supportive words, and appreciate you taking the time to send them. Thank you.
I'm also encouraged because the original reason for my hiatus has been sated.
News reports about the two-week-old Wall Street Protest have started trickling out on the cable news networks. Surprisingly, Fox News has had several reports over the last week, as has CNN. Reports also appeared in other mainstream media outlets like ABC. Of course, when 80 people get arrested, it's hard to ignore. Also, the arrests allowed the corporate media puppets a chance to show the protesters as deviants and criminals, which is what they want.
An even bigger surprise is that I've yet to see MSNBC, the news outlet that fancies itself the left-leaning defender of the proletariat, run any news stories on the protest.
Of course, none of the news networks have done a legitimate profile of the protest, including interviews with organizers or actual protesters, which confirms the bias that enraged me so thoroughly last week. But that's another article for another time.
For now, I feel recharged and ready to get back in the saddle, my lance at my side and a brigade of windmills on the horizon.