I read the news before properly awakening this morning, a bad habit I must work to cease. Without food, caffeine or a full eight behind me, the terrors of the nation drained me outright before I had a chance to breathe. Panic and righteous indignation drew me to the keyboard and I began to pound out what I intended to be a full account of my thoughts, listed point by point, in no particular service to any identifiable thesis except "everything is fucked, right?"
Meanwhile, my son frolicked and hectored, as is his due, even as I steamed and bristled, and it took no small amount of self-control to fold down the laptop and turn my attention to a large circus-themed picture puzzle on the kitchen table. I'm not counting this as moral victory, just correction of an error, and I'm not going to suggest that this humble father-son activity soothed my nerves or gave me a rosier view of the world, because it absolutely didn't. What I did get was a chance to re-read the missive after a few hours, and realized it missed its mark by not having one -- I can spend 1000 words listing each topic that makes me angry, but that doesn't make it worth foisting onto the world. As an intellectual exercise or a vent of emotion, it had value for me, but as a use of my morning? Dubious.
But that's where many of us are right now. So blindsided by outrageous developments in American politics and culture rising up a half dozen at a time, every day a new shooting, a new slur, a new scandal, a new outrage and I'm using that word twice in this sentence because at a certain point it's the only word that will do. Who has the time or mental space to consider even one long enough to understand and comprehend an event's meaning, or even the accuracy of the information? I have a three year old to care for, I should not be spending my day agog as each fresh insult to our freedom and safety wafts over the airwaves or through the ethernet. But as all the walls crumble about us, how can we not try to stay informed? And even in a vacuum, without the responsibility of employment and family, how would one keep up? How to properly and soberly examine each issue, draw a coherent conclusion and decide how to act? Any one topic could topple an empire, so how does one cope?
I have no answer, only the question. Every day the wife and I identify one more charity we should donate to, one more organization we should volunteer with, one more petition that should probably be signed. But not every charity is virtuous, not every organization is in a position to make substantial change, and not every petition will have teeth, and the patience and focus required to make the right choices in these areas is often beyond me.