Mar 8, 2006

Politics, lack of

This has so far been a politics-free blog. Don't worry. It will remain so. What made me think about it, is that three of my friends whose blogs I read (links in the menu on this page), will post about political issues. So here's a little musing about why I don't.

First of all, I have never been a newshound. Although I am a child of both the Cold War and a sort-of victim of it (see below), and there was this thing called Vietnam and another thing called Watergate while I was growing up, I was mainly oblivious to it all. My folks had a rule of not having the evening news on while we ate dinner. I'd usually leave the room or do something else while the grown-ups watched the news, which may have contributed to my sense of safety in an unsafe world. I still don't watch the news much, nor do I eagerly read newspapers, though I grew up with people who did. The news - as in foreign affairs, politics, current events - rarely grabs me. Today's media tend to present celebrity gossip and sports events with the same level of importance as the "hard" news, too, which doesn't increase the appeal for me.

I am the citizen of one country, and live in another. I came to Norway as a little girl, while the Vietnam war was raging, and our little American family met some pretty nasty attitudes from those who thought we supported that war. We didn't. Grandpa was torpedoed during World War II, and Grandma generally didn't like killing - perhaps because her first husband was shot during a riot. Both were peaceful people, and preferred peaceful solutions. I grew up with the survivors of one war in a country that had once been occupied, while another raged on the TV, and the only thing I am certain of is that while nations may stop fighting, the damages of war can go on for generations. I see nothing sensible, necessary or desirable about that.

Nixon left the Whitehouse in disgrace. Did it affect me? No. Do I even remember it? Not really. I was in Norway, working on this thing called puberty, and my American soul remained unscathed. I went through the 60's and 70's more interested in surviving my own childhood and attendant emotional upsets. The rest of the world simply couldn't get my attention. It still doesn't, with very few exceptions.

I admit that I'm not the sort of voter I'd look to for advice. I have no clue what the issues are. I pay no more attention to Norwegian issues than I do American. I vote with my feelings, and cannot produce any facts to back my decision with. I wouldn't want an entire city or country run by people like me.

One thing that strikes me about others who avidly follow the news, keep up with current events, maybe have a pet peeve they write their politicians about, is that they have passion about these things. It truly grabs them and matters in their lives. I have no such passion. There has never been an issue I cared so deeply about that I would write a letter, or march in the streets for it. I have simply not been moved enough, one way or the other. I also have been fortunate enough to live in places and in times where someone else marched for me or ahead of me.

And there's that nailing myself down part. I know I will and can change my mind on an issue; I've done so before, including which party to vote for. And perhaps it is that changability, that vacillation, that keeps me from immersing myself 100% (or even 80%) in something. I have opinions; I know how I feel about things like religion, abortion, women's rights, racism, homosexuals, the environment, the war in Iraq. But I have no interest in putting it in writing, leaving a more or less permanent trail of something that really isn't all that permanent. I also have no interest in being yet another voice stating what she thinks is the right thing to do or think. I wouldn't read it, so why write it? And, like I said, I don't know the issues, anyway. I will indulge in the discussion at lunch, but that is a situation where any changes in opinion usually appear immediately, and so do clarifications.

So, is there an advantage to not watching the news, not keeping abreast of current events? I think so. For example: Recently, some Moslems reacted with violence over cartoons of Muhammed published in Norwegian and Danish newspapers. A poll of Norwegians stated that those watching the news found themselves growing more negative towards Moslems. I haven't seen a single riot. My world is still peaceful and I still trust the people in it. And Plato (I believe it was) said that one must be careful about what one let's into one's soul because it will never leave.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that the only thing to fear is fear itself, and I find that that phrase makes a good mantra and as well as putting things into perspective. Because a lot of the trouble - and the reporting of it - in this world, is caused by someone who is scared. Fear often gets expressed as greed, jealousy, anger, as well as its pure self. I look around at my day to day life and what I see is nothing but good. I see good people helping others in trouble. I feel safe. I trust strangers. I like it that way. That is my conscious, informed choice, and the only issue that truly matters to this voter.

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