In 1972, I cast my first ballot in a presidential election from a remote duty station in Iceland. I was a Cryptologist in the Navy. I was 18 years old, defending my country and excited to vote for the first time in my life. It was my civic duty and an obligation I proudly embraced. I took the matter seriously. I gathered what information I could, watched and listened to the candidates, thought things through, made my choice and voted. The process, and the entire election for that matter was not stressful to me. I had no anxiety or sleepless nights. I was engaged but not consumed. And, I didn’t argue with a single soul.
Fast forward to today−things could not be more different and not in a good way. Politics is consuming us and it’s killing us literally!
Every day we are bombarded with political rhetoric on scale not seen in our country’s history. Every news show, talk show, late night show, award ceremony and day time show (not including the actual political programs) is infected with it. And, the unfortunate reality regarding the voluminous amount of information thrown at us−is the undeniable fact that a great deal of it is not even true.
It’s no wonder that we are stressed.
Politics has always been a dirty game. From the stories of Tammany Hall in New York City, to the shady politics of the Windy City, to old man Joe Kennedy sending boat loads of cash down south to buy votes−there has always been corruption associated with seeking” higher” office. The problem we face today is that we are being sucked right in along with them.
We’ve all heard the stories−lifelong friends disassociating from each other because of their political views. Across the country, people are being verbally and physically assaulted. We have witnessed paying customers being denied services because of the hat or the uniform they’re wearing. We just don’t have political opinions anymore−we’ve become political operatives. One outrageous case brought to mind, was that of a woman who refused to allow her children to visit their grandparents because they supported President Trump. This is insanity on steroids. To deny your children one of the most important bonds of their lives over politics is maddening. People have split from their friends and family, wasted countless hours of their lives responding to posts and blogs−and caused themselves a great deal of stress over a politician they have never met! Ponder that for a moment.
It’s crazy to me that we have allowed these “temporary gatekeepers of the government’s business” to infect our daily lives. Our government has problems but our country is strong. I see these as two separate entities. Our country is made up of guiding principles. The principles of fairness, justice, humility and compassion make up the backbone of America. It’s our duty as citizens to try as best we can to live by them. Regarding our government, well, it’s made up of people who come and go (eventually).
But despite the bleak picture that faces us, we have the power to stop the craziness. We can’t control what others do but we can control what we do. This blog is dedicated to finding ways to cope. Michigan Health has recommended 5 ways to reduce politically induced stress. I guess they coined a new ailment. You can spell out the acronym for the ailment yourself.
Below is a summary:
- Beware of how much time you spend on social media
- Be mindful of your surroundings when discussing politics (this one I have a problem with)
- Be open to other points of view
- Step away from hot conversations
- Self-assess your interest (is engaging in politics good for you)
So, for right now, take a break and take a walk. Don’t worry, it will still be here when you return. Go and clear your mind and as my son always tells me−chill Dad, just chill..
I’d love to hear your thoughts and perhaps some discussion on how we got here.