My 3 Cents

Political Moratorium

I’ve kept my time watching and reading the news to a minimum the last few years. Thirty second television sounds bites, online NYT headlines with an estimated reading time, and impromptu alerts on my phones are irritating. I appreciate journalists need to prod a reader/listener to pay attention, but c’mon.

In a few weeks I’m headed halfway around the world for a long planned adventure to New Zealand. Traveling with a small group of fourteen, all from the States, the itinerary has plenty of time for individual exploration of the North and South Islands. I’ve traveled over the years planning every aspect of my day to day activities on my own. This time I’m looking forward to a care-free journey where someone else schedules the hotel and transportation.

I only have one request. No political discussions. No kidding. I need a break. I want to learn about old customs, new foods, read books by local authors, share a beverage and ask questions of the clientele at the neighborhood pub, and sleep well after a pleasantly exhausting day of exploration.

Oddly enough, I’ve spent the last few months streaming The West Wing. (It lasted seven seasons, so I limited myself to two or three episodes a week.) I didn’t watch when it first aired because George W. Bush was president in 2001 and I was disgusted with the dumbing down of the presidency. (Who knew how low the political arena would stoop?)

What is most interesting to me is that the scripted issues challenging the nation at the time (remember a 1999-2006 television series) were immigration, gay marriage, the economy, the war in the Middle East, healthcare, terrorism, climate change, drugs, nuclear proliferation, gun violence, border security, etc., etc., etc.

I marvel at how little progress has been made. Baby steps in gay rights and climate considerations have showed some change, but that progress could be erased with a shift of administrations. Thinking about Aaron Sorkin’s fictional West Wing, I‘m certain I am not the first person to wish for the thoughtful intelligence of Jeb Barlett or the promise of leadership of Matt Santos. I worry, but I’m wise enough to know when to be involved and when to take a break. Three weeks is all I ask.

It will take great restraint not to click on my news apps, mostly out of habit, but I’ll keep you posted. I plan on writing the next My 3 Cents after the jetlag is resolved. I’m guessing that column may offer a different perspective.