The outrage festers with multiple headlines almost every day. The federal response to this virus has been so mismanaged it will take years to disentangle all the deadly consequences. And then there is the president himself, bereft of even a passing sense of empathy for all those suffering. There are his lies, the diversion of governmental energy to fuel his fragile ego, the overlay of corruption, and his authoritarian attacks on the press.
I could fill paragraph after paragraph listing actions and statements by this administration that are outrageous and dangerous when measured by any yardstick of acceptable human behavior. I know there are millions of Americans who feel similarly. I know we cannot become inured to this, that democracy depends on an accurate accounting of all the transgressions against truth and decency. And yet, I must confess, there are days when I wonder about the right approach. I know President Trump wants to see this as a war of attrition, if he can just wear down the opposition he will emerge victorious. But we have a long way to go before November, and as the lines of voters in Wisconsin suggested, people are revved up to choose a very different type of leadership.
I think of an analogy of a military on high alert. There are times when each person must take the watch, to look out on the horizon with an unflinching eye for any possible danger. The purpose of this is to allow other soldiers to sleep, thus resting for their turn on the watch and for any battle ahead.
As we sit hunkered down, consuming the flood of news at the national level, we are in essence all on the watch all the time. I worry it is neither sustainable nor advisable. There are many other efforts that need our energy, especially in these times. We should be aware about the needs of our community, about how we can help. We need to tend to our personal and professional relationships, checking in on friends and family. And perhaps, most importantly, we cannot forget to tend to our own wellbeing. We will need to be strong and healthy to take on the challenges that we all will face as a nation and a global community in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to report on this administration. I will continue to share news that I believe needs to be shared. We cannot become pollyannaish. We cannot normalize the leadership void we are witnessing. But neither can we become consumed. President Trump is who he is. He will not change. The battle to not let him define the soul of this country will take place at the ballot box. It will take place in how the press covers him. But it will also take place in the hearts and minds of the American citizenry. Outrage is a powerful emotion that can change history. But so is hope, empathy, and the connections to our community. And those need to be cultivated as well in these times of crisis.
So take it from this old newsman. It’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to not know about every injustice. It’s ok to breathe or read a book or watch a silly movie. The accounting is ongoing. You can tune in later and catch up. There are people on the watch. And there is much more to the world that will demand our attention, and more importantly, our love.