I used to be a news junkie – just couldn’t get enough of it. If I were having a restless night, I would listen to BBC World that plays on KRCC at 3:00 a.m. And after BBC World, I would listen to “Morning Edition” on NPR. And then I’d get up, turn on the computer, and check the New York Times’ opinion page.
Like binge eating, ingesting too much information can lead to a sugar-rush followed by a hangover and depression. ‘Used to” is the operative word: I’ve cut back. I am managing my intake of toxins. I listen to the news. I’m aware, but I am not involved. My blood simmers rather than boils. Health-wise I cannot afford to binge on news.
This past Sunday, New York Times‘ columnist Maureen Dowd wrote “Is It WWIII or Just Twitter.” In that piece, she wonders whether “sulfurous videos of the social-media savvy ISIS fiends beheading American journalists” fuels our anxiety. Dowd quotes President Obama saying, “If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart.”
President Obama will confer with the U.S. Congress tomorrow on the 9th and address the nation as to his strategy on the following day. The word “strategy” is a reach. How exactly do you devise a strategy when the world is going to hell in a hand basket and dozens of hot spots threaten world peace? If you think of a smoldering world in fire fighting terms, where do you place your men and resources?
My concern is that social media is mostly sound-bites. If the electorate is relying on social media for the NEWS, they are ill-informed. Social media does not lend itself to critical thinking. We can only hope that Congress, refreshed from their recess, will have spent some time thinking critically. More likely, given the pending, mid-term elections in November and their eyes on the polls, our politicians do not have the liberty of critical thinking. Yes, my view is jaundiced.
Enough! As I wrote, politics (and an individual’s inability to affect change) can drive a person to drink, but there is a remedy: my strategy is to listen to more music and view more art. I may have mentioned that the highlight of my summer in Westcliffe is Jazz Camp where aspiring young jazz musicians gather for a week of studying and playing with professional jazz musicians. The music speaks for itself, but seeing such dedication and talent from our youth is inspiring. I find myself thinking that perhaps the future is not lost. Perhaps we are not going up in smoke.
As for Art, I visited the Denver Botanical Gardens this past week and came away uplifted. I walked in and I floated away. Like music, the garden speaks for itself, but this season the American glass artist Chichuly is on exhibit through November 30. Oh my goodness! I had seen his work in airports and as installations previously, but to see his artistry embedded in a garden, to see his work an integral part of nature, is a wondrous thing. I plan to return. The gardens open at 8:00 a.m. and that time is perfect – the light is good and the visitors are scant. From October 3 to November 30, the gardens are open and lit from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at which time I will have to take a second dose of medicine.
As individuals, we cannot affect world politics, but with more music and art to sooth our savaged souls, we can moderate our knee-jerk response to 24/7 news.