I have always made an effort to be a reasonably informed citizen of my country. I may not know the ins and outs of all things political at all times, but I pay enough attention to things to have a broad understanding of the issues that I consider to be most important (civil rights, economics, and the environment).
I’m ashamed to admit that ever since the election, that’s changed.
I stopped listening to NPR. (Coincidentally, my Public Radio Nerd travel mug’s lid also got stuck so badly that I can’t use it—I feel like NPR is trying to punish me.) I unsubscribed from news outlets in social media. I don’t watch the news in the morning. Pretty much all I see these days are things my friends post on social media, and even then I haven’t been clicking through to read them.
It’s not that I want to live in a bubble. Not exactly. It’s more that I just haven’t found a healthy way to cope with our current political upheaval, so in the interest of my own mental health, I have withdrawn.
I hate to say it, but it’s been working for me. I’m sleeping better. The constant buzz of anxiety I was feeling has quieted some. My in laws are coming for several days next weekend and I’m not climbing the walls about their visit. The distance is helping me to gain a bit of sorely-needed perspective on things.
For further perspective, I had a long chat with my mom in the car the other day about a family friend who is visiting here from Venezuela right now. She’s close to my age and has a six year old son that she supports on her own.
If you’re not familiar with the socioeconomic status of Venezuela right now, it’s pretty horrific. Our poor sweet friend waits in line for an entire day to try to get any groceries that might be available—and sometimes by the time she reaches the front of the line, there is nothing left. She is forced to try to purchase groceries on the black market, where she will have to pay upward of $150 (that’s in US dollars) for a dozen eggs. These people literally don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
That’s just the beginning.
Our friend is one of the “lucky” ones. She has a “good” job, making a decent living and yet she still can barely afford to feed them and keep a roof over their heads.
The government there doesn’t care. There is no end in sight. Elections are cancelled regularly and things get worse for the people month after month. She has asked if we can send her things like shampoo and allergy medication. SHAMPOO. I didn’t even realize that I took shampoo for granted.
I try to imagine raising a child in such an environment. I can’t. How privileged am I that I have never seen the inside of an empty grocery store? That I have never had to wonder if my child will have enough food this week?
That’s not to say that things in the US aren’t insane. They are. I don’t understand how there are so few people in this country with the ability to use reason to see both sides of a situation. And I REALLY don’t understand why our politicians can’t put down their bibles and vote with their brains instead. It boggles my mind.
And while there are confirmation hearings for an Attorney General who believes that my family is a threat to his very existence, well—I guess I just need to take a beat and make some space in my head for gratitude before I pick up my torch again.