What do we do with what happened in Washington last Wednesday? Kim and I spent much of the day watching CNN, with an occasional flip over to Fox. We saw most of Trump’s speech. Then on Thursday we watched a lot of the comments made on those two networks, and we, like many Americans, wondered what would come next. And this while the pandemic was becoming more and more deadly, and the planet continues to warm.
I imagine several possible ways to respond.
Analysis. Many of my classmates and the talking heads on CNN are doing this. How did this happen – “this” meaning the cultural divide that created a President Trump who spurred the coup attempt? As long as I can come up with an analysis, I don’t feel like the situation is totally out of my control.
Pangloss. Despite the virus and the riots, Voltaire’s philosopher was correct: This is the best of all possible worlds. Somehow. Maybe it’s nature’s way of dealing with overpopulation (I can say this because I’m near the front of the mortality line) and the best way to expose and drain the swamp in Washington – the bandage was just ripped off (to mix metaphors).
Denial. Didn’t really happen. CNN made it up for the ratings. Fake news.
Bargaining. Just make the rioting end, arrest the obvious thugs, and let the Trump go play golf. It makes a kind of sense to trade justice for peace. (Besides, New York is going to nail him in the near future anyway.)
Small Ball (A). Look at the birds. Get a jump on spring cleaning. Learn to make a new salad. Meditate. Stretch. Hug your partner. Pat your dog. Give a kind word to a stranger (from a safe distance). Don’t say more than one sentence about what’s going on in Washington. Stay home.
Small Ball (B). Imagine that you wrote to Joe Biden, or to your own Senator or Representative, asking, “What can I do now?” How might they respond? Do it. Maybe write to your representative in Washington.
Pray. I’m not sure that this would change an objective situation, but people say it helps them feel comfort as part of The Big Picture. Worth a try, even as an experiment. It may also help you feel part of a community of folks who are praying.
Acceptance. Sorry, but this does not feel very constructive. Someone asked Robert Frost if poets have more love than other people. His answer was that he loved what’s lovable and hates what’s hatable. Some things are not acceptable.
Television. Movies provide some escape, but it’s too easy to flip over to CNN to see what new ugliness is being discussed.
Shock. Stunned Bewilderment. Staying with this approach means you don’t actually have to do anything. The downside: You don’t actually do anything.
Alcohol. Yes, there’s always that. I know some people who enjoy a drink at the end of the day, just to help the WTF turn into something more mellow. I have difficulty disapproving of people who do this.
Photoshop. Create an edited version of reality, one that aligns with your needs.
Bonding by Phone. “Have you been watching CNN? Do you believe it? We’ve been watching all day. How did we get where we are? What do you think they should do? etc., etc.” As long as I’m talking with you I don’t feel so overwhelmingly alone.
Exercise. As long as I’m in top physical shape, I can get through this thing. And while I’m counting push-ups (or whatever), I’m not thinking about WTF is happening in the world.
Time Travel. Go back in time a few months, or a few years if you can. Work harder and smarter on the elections. Come up with better ways to communicate about the Coronavirus. And think what might have happened if Pfizer had announced its vaccine numbers two weeks before the election. Don’t worry if you do not have the ability to time travel, for there are future (and present) pandemics, as well as political and environmental crises, to apply what you might well have done in the recent past.
Humor. Too soon for humor.
I wrote the above on January 7, so it’s been a week. Nothing has changed in terms of my response options. We watched impeachment coverage on CNN, and we don’t know what will happen in the weeks ahead, except probably some snow, and I’ll see my son Phee’s published e-book, and we will continue spring cleaning and alternating between streaming movies and CNN.