Five years ago, I thought Tony Blair was an Olympic ice skater. Seriously. I couldn’t tell you the name of my state’s senator or locate Iraq on a map (among so many other countries).
“Oh, I’m not into politics,” I’d say backing out of the room (trying to save face). “I’m an artist.” (As if the two things were poised in inherent conflict.)
My descent (yes, descent) into politics happened accidentally. I was brainstorming unobtrusive forms of entertainment (i.e. not television) for those sometimes long days at home with Henry. This American Life was, for me, my gateway to news. At least, it got me on the NPR website. That “Listen” button was so easy to push–and voila–news show after interesting news show started to stream. Softly, in the background filtered Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, meanwhile Henry and I built great block towers, assembled puzzles, colored cardboard rocket ships, and mixed cookie dough after cookie dough. (We really like to make cookies.)
I’ve been listening to the news now for two years, daily, (a lot of it) daily, and it’s starting to get to me.
I’m getting emotionally involved.
I envy the days when I wrote it all off, played the “they’re all corrupt” card. But, from the angle of my living room carpet, some seem more corrupt than others.
All this news has made a nail biter out of me. It literally keeps me up at night.
For example, recently, the incredible wave of courage and passion sweeping the Middle East (the horrors in Libya!). The nightmare Haitians have had to endure from natural disasters to plague like illnesses. Then there’s Burma and Darfur (Yes, that’s still going on). People in my own country (the United States) who get sick and can’t afford to get the medical care they need. The proposed slashes to education when it’s already near shambles.
At times, I feel guilty with prosperity and civil rights. At times, I lament myself as poor, struggling to protect myself against the mechanical (literally inhuman, as in legally separate from “natural persons”) greed of big corporations (e.g. insurance companies, irresponsible food manufacturers, Charter, Bank Of America, Johnson & Johnson, to name just a few disreputable names)
What’s a girl to do? Stop listening to the news? Join some political group (I’m not exactly sure if any exist where I live). Write my senator a letter?
I try to keep my political opinions quiet here at My Inconvenient Body. I don’t want to alienate or offend people I care about, or any reader, really, but as “the news” grows larger and larger in my life, it is more and more difficult to keep my mouth shut.
It’s also a matter of aesthetic. While I sometimes like to point with words, I try to push my own writing past the political costume to a more timeless and transcendent realm. One that looks past the “politics” to the people, and the usually basic dramas that drive them.
That said, I’m finding more and more, that sometimes you have to fight. It would just be nice to know when that sometimes is.
As always, your comments are welcome. Even (especially) if you disagree.