About a month ago, while in the throes of hypertension-reduction therapy with a new doctor (without much success at the time), I decided that, more than medications, a change in lifestyle was called for. I notified those friends and acquaintances to whom I had been forwarding up to a dozen emails per week concerning the political "outrages" of the day that I was out of the calamity clearinghouse business. I suspended the once monthly political forums I was facilitating at my Unitarian Universalist Church. I stopped watching The Rachel Maddow Show as if it were a religion. I unsubscribed from three dozen or more listserves. Finally, I vowed to distance myself from involvement in politics or debates about the rightness or wrongness of any side of the debate on political issues, except on occasion with my closest friends. Like water off a duck's back--and unlike oil off a brown pelican's--I will keep abreast of developments while never allowing it to get on my chest.
This new policy has already paid dividends. Since I began to put it into practice, my average blood pressure (diastolic) has dropped 20 points. I have much more time to pursue other interests, including long-distance calls to relatives, reading books, and planning vacations. The last undertaking is the reason for the title of this post. Relieved of the self-imposed duty to connect seemingly randomly-dispersed "dots" of truth, I can now spend my retirement life finding ways to enjoy the world as it is...or, at least, my little corner of it. In July, we will be undertaking a 4000-mile journey via Ford Focus to visit friends in Nanaimo, BC, CA, taking in half-a-dozen national parks along the way to and fro. In October, we will drive to Detroit to attend my first-born child's wedding and visit old friends there. As our Focus gets nearly 40 mpg on the open road, my conscience allows us to do this while feeling free of guilt for sins against the planet.
Socrates made a perhaps fatal point of decrying the usefulness of democracy as a form of governance, questioning whether an electorate ignorant of science, geography, other cultures, and the workings of government could possibly make better decisions than a Senate comprised of the intellectually elite. Having followed the recent meteoric rise of Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers, I must finally acquiesce to his wisdom. Having seen one of two major political parties adopt as its primary strategy not finding solutions to the existential problems that face us today but rather snuffing out the life of any ideas whose execution would not directly accrue to the advancement of their ideology, I am beginning to seriously doubt whether the U.S. is capable of saving ourselves, let alone bringing enlightenment to those far-flung corners of the world where the peddlers of ignorance, prejudice, poverty, and dogmatism find voice.
So, I will not turn my back on social justice, ecological sanity, and all the causes that I have championed for decades. However, I will turn my face more to welcoming the beauty and grace of this planet and its inhabitants while it, they, and I last. I can do this knowing that others--many of them so young--have already picked up the torch and are carrying it more faithfully than I ever did. I no longer feel responsible for curing the world's ills. What a relief! I have already seen many turnings toward the light, just in the last couple of years. If we don't turn back, there is still some room for optimism. I just won't have "my hand on the till", as if I ever did. To all of you still fighting the good fight, I say, "more power to you and Godspeed".