The political climate has been a toxic cesspool for a very long time, and right after Thanksgiving, I'd had enough. All the news all the time was Trump as a racist, Trump as a liar, Trump as a sexist, Trump as a traitor, Trump as a victim, Trump as a saint, Trump as the Sacrificial Lamb, Trump as a dictator, Trump as a Nazi, and so on, ad nauseam.
I was done.
There are better things in this world to think about, better things to fill my mind than the constant barrage against the President. And I don't really blame Trump for this, or at least, not as much as the rest of the media. You'd think they would have figured out by now that Trump is a Class-A troll, but no. They take the bait and run with the smallest thing and fill the airwaves with their reactionary garbage. And then the Twitterverse piles on, and then it all just goes to hell.
Take the whole business regarding CNN's Jim Acosta. Now I'm sure there was a time when he was a legit reporter offering good analysis of the news, but these days, he's turned into a grandstanding narcissist who seems intent on #1: making himself the story, and #2: then using that story to bash the President further and characterize himself as a victim. The fact the the majority of the media ran with that story tells me that any hope of getting objectivity is nil at this point.
The fast, therefore, was long overdue, and in truth, these last couple of weeks have been amazing. I've learned about so many things, listened to podcasts by everyone from Joe Rogan to Fr. Robert Spitzer, I've learned about Cardinal Newman, the historicity of Jesus, the Intellectual Dark Web, the psychology of tribalism, and so on. I've listened to Jordan Peterson, Dan Bongino, to so many interesting people and ideas, and I've been able to refocus myself and my spirituality in a more intellectual foundation.
I also know that striking a balance is important. After all, there are plenty of really important things going on in the world right now, and that there's no excuse for ignorance. The other day, I turned on the news, just out of curiosity, and I quickly learned that nothing changed. Same bickering, same ad hominem attacks, same finger-pointing and baseless accusations on all sides, same same same.
But is that enough to stay away entirely? Of course, like anything else in history and culture, this too shall pass. What seems so critical now will soon diminish into the vague memory of history - I don't mean the critical issues such as abortion, the persecution of the Church, or other human rights abuses - I mean the other, day-to-day fighting over who said what to whom. The gossip. It actually does matter that the country is stable and it does matter that Congress is friendly to all human life and that means that we do need to pay attention, at least to what matters.
My solution is to find a balance so that I'm not so saturated with news and politics that I forget about the real, eternal things of importance. So my podcast-listening schedule will look something like this, at least for the present:
What it comes down to is that our minds need expansion and new knowledge, and that we thrive when we're challenged by different experiences and ideas. I'll see how I do with this, and I hope to update soon!
There's been something wonderful going on these days, even within the current toxic political atmosphere. Well, two things.
The #walkaway movement was the first thing, and then along came #blexit.
Earlier this year, a gay hairstylist, Brandon Straka, started the #walkaway movement in response to what perhaps some of us have called "Trump Derangement Sydrome," characterized, among many traits, by the strong tendency to shout down and shut down any speech that might be favorable of the President or of conservative points of view. Straka pinpoints his move toward conservatism after an incident in 2016 - he was assaulted by a homeless Hispanic man, and after venting about the incident on social media, he was criticized for his "white privilege" rather than getting the sympathy and support he sought.
Similarly, David Harris Jr., another former liberal, started the #blexit movement with the mission of encouraging other African-Americans to embrace freedom of thought rather than continue to feel as though they were obligated to vote and think in a certain way. Other notable former liberals have started to speak up more and more: Candace Owens, Stacey Dash, Brandon Tatum, among others, and all with the same message - no one should be able to tell you how to think, what words to use, or how to vote. Those belong to the individual, regardless of anything else.
As far as I'm concerned, a person should be able to think what they want, and if they want to disagree with me, that's fine. If they want to think terrible things, that's none of my business. If they want to say awful things, well, I wish they wouldn't, but that's also a part of freedom. There was a time when that sentiment was fairly mainstream - think what you want and leave me alone. These days, when many equate speech with actual violence, this sentiment has become radical, controversial, even dangerous...at least in popular culture.
In truth, though, I think that privately, most people would still agree with that, which is likely why #walkaway and #blexit are so popular. #walkaway even had a march this year, which was great because it gave people a public forum to emphasize that ones ability to think and speak as they wish is extremely important for the survival of our culture. If we allow the thought police to come down on free speech and start to limit that via legislation, that's when fascism arises. After all, who would the arbiter of what's acceptable speech? Who determines what's "bad" and what's "good"? In this post-Christian society, I wouldn't trust those judges as far as I could throw them, and even if I could, I wouldn't want the law to be able to make that determination for me.
We live in great peril right now. In the past we had wars and huge battles that killed many, but this war is different and more dangerous. This is the war for the mind, for the soul, for what we believe. If belief turns into what we're allowed to believe, then we're lost. Therefore, I hope that more free-thought movements continue to rise up - that is the true Resistance.
Witty; cunning; crafty
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