No. More. Politics.
I’ve had it. I’m done. Finito. This political nerd and campaign junkie is going cold turkey.
I won’t watch, listen to, participate in or read anything about national and regional politics, at least until Thanksgiving. Maybe later.
Never miss a local story.
I already know which candidates are getting my votes, and I’m so sure of my choices that I don’t need to listen to the others, because I’m not going to change my mind.
Most of my friends also have made their decisions, so nothing I can say would convince them otherwise. Indeed, some already have voted.
And with all the vitriol and viciousness on the campaign scene this year, I’m not about to start a political conversation with a stranger! These days, that could be dangerous.
Sad, isn’t it?
It’s not just what some national candidates are saying that has my stomach in knots, my shoulders masquerading as earrings and my heart aching with worry about the future. It’s the words and actions of rabid, angry supporters whose fervor for their candidates has taken away their common sense, their decorum and their respect for other people.
I’ve seen political conversations between friends degenerate quickly into name-calling nastiness. The friendships probably won’t survive. I just hope our country will.
And I can’t do anything about any of it.
Of course, I’ll continue to cover the local elections, even if they get spiteful and mean. That’s part of my job, after all.
However, I’m backing away from all politics in my private life.
Because it’s making me sick. Literally.
It’s not just me
And apparently, I’m not alone.
My first hint that others were having a similar reaction came when a national-network TV anchor mentioned that the stress of the national campaign scene was causing some people to lose sleep, and if they did sleep, they didn’t feel rested when they awoke.
Boy, did that sound familiar!
Then I read an online piece at www.bit.ly/2egJTPl, in which the author noted that “nasty politics can cause extremes in thought and unpleasant physical symptoms.”
Then I sought a professional opinion.
Local psychologist confirms it’s bad
Cambria psychologist Steve Brody said in answers to an email I sent him Oct. 15 and 16 that “given the increasing divide in our culture (and in our town on local issues), folks on both sides are increasingly frightened. And we know fear is capable of biologically hijacking us with a cascade of chemicals, e.g. ‘the stress hormone’ cortisol, which affects inflammation, our immune response, blood pressure, heart, nervous system ... some really bad stuff, long term.
“So, yes, today’s politics are definitely making us sicker to some degree, and for those of us who are more seriously involved on either side, a significant degree.
“I see this in my practice as well; it’s not front and center, but (is) a layer of stress affecting many of us to some extent.
“And this will likely not end on Nov. 8. In fact, if the election is thought of as rigged, there is likely to be anger, and unfortunately, violence.”
Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure that the patient continues to believe that the problem is ‘out there’ in the ‘broken system.’
C.S. Lewis in “The Screwtape Letters,” first published in 1942
Steve had some advice for counteracting the stress.
“Limit your exposure to news. Be informed, not obsessed.
“Try very hard to listen to opinions opposite your own, to hear the legitimate” ones, “however easy it is to typecast and denigrate ‘the other’ — like the couple who comes in for marital therapy, and one partner says, “I’ve told you my side of the story, now let me tell you his/hers.”
“Third, be more of the person you hope others would be: Behave respectfully, be accountable for your own actions, avoid blaming others. See our similarities as much as our differences.”
And, “when voicing your opinion, consider Voltaire’s, ‘We cannot always oblige, but we can always speak obligingly.’ ”
Get out and pray, exercise, meditate
Steve recommended exercise as a great way to decrease the tension, along with the restorative actions of meditation, prayer and/or taking a walk in nature.
“I wish I was more optimistic,” he said somewhat gloomily, “but we’re in for a prolonged period of political divisiveness, rancor and stress ... and none of it good for our health.”
So, will I succeed in totally avoiding national political updates or reading about the latest spit-and-snarl campaign confrontations? Or will I miss the emotional highs and lows of the unpleasant political melodrama that is the 2016 election?
The jury’s still out. But I’m trying, because I’m sick of it. And from it.