My outlook on life is changing a little bit these days.
I’m much more detached when reading or watching the news. Politics, especially at the national level, doesn’t interest me much anymore.
I’d rather deal in real life.
For those of you who live and die by what the Democrats and/or Republicans do, I’m sure you won’t understand.
As a newspaper journalist for about three decades, I followed politics closely, because it sold papers.
Does it still?
Perhaps that’s one reason why what newspapers print isn’t the talk of the town anymore. Their editorial pages, as they have always done, focus on politics and not much else.
Not even government. Politics.
There’s a difference.
I rarely read any editorial page columns. They are so predictable. They say the same thing every day, using the issue of the day to promote their agenda.
Most of them these days slam President Trump. I get that.
But how many times do you have to say it?
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seemed to have an actual discourse leading to a summit, where they would talk about nuclear weapons, among other things.
The summit apparently fell through.
That was interesting, though.
But decades of mistrust can’t end in a few short weeks.
For the most part, the national discourse majors in minor issues.
Is kneeling during the National Anthem before NFL games really an issue worth dividing the country over?
Are school shootings really about gun control, or is something deeper at work there?
Do thoughts and prayers actually work? Do they change our outlook on life?
What’s the point of the #metoo movement, actually? Is it women’s rights, or is there something bigger at work there as well?
We are a sex-crazed society. We are massively messed up, and we all know it.
Exhibit A: #metoo.
Exhibit B: The divorce rate.
Exhibit C: Sex outside of marriage, including among teens, is not only normal, it is expected.
Exhibit D: Pornography is out of control in this country.
Exhibit E: Rape, sexual bondage, date rape …
Exhibit F: Clothing choices. How much cleavage is too much? Only for women, of course.
Exhibit G: Gender identity. Just the fact that we’re talking about this means we don’t know who we are anymore.
I don’t even have to quote statistics. You understand all of this because you experience it, or you know people who do.
But we won’t talk about it.
Not in a way that actually solves anything.
How do we expect to resolve the #metoo movement without talking about the role of sex in society? If sex outside of marriage is normal, why are we surprised when many men (and women) push the limits?
Nearly every song on the radio is about sex, some more blatantly than others. That’s been true for decades. I frequently listen to an oldies’ station that plays songs from my teen years. Talk about politically incorrect …
And yet we still play them. And listen.
Why are video games so popular? And illegal drugs? And porn?
Those are escapes from real life.
Real life is full of anxiety and stress. We don’t know how to solve real issues. Relationships. School. Jobs.
I’ve done the whole job search thing, and it’s not designed to bring out the best in anyone. It’s not even designed to connect passions with talent with careers. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
Some people say there’s no jobs out there. I see “now hiring” and “drivers wanted” and “positions available, all shifts” signs all over the place.
On the other end of the spectrum, highly technical jobs go unfilled because not enough of us are trained for them.
Most of us would prefer a job/career somewhere in the middle, something more than minimum wage and something that doesn’t require an advanced degree that we don’t have time for or can’t afford to get.
Are most of us left behind?
I mentored a fourth-grade student in inner-city Cleveland this spring. He has no concept of a long-term future. All he thinks about is getting dissed by a classmate, for which he gets in trouble. He lives with his grandfather. His mother and two older sisters also are in Cleveland, but he doesn’t see them often. His dad is in Arizona, and my student hopes to move out there with him this summer. Cleveland is too violent, he says.
People are people wherever you go, I told him.
If he leaves Cleveland, will his life magically get better?
I doubt it.
How does arguing about President Trump’s tweets solve my fourth-grader’s lack of focus and maturity? How can he learn not to respond in anger when things don’t go his way?
His family is broken. His school is trying, but isn’t reaching him. His teacher can do only so much.
He got suspended recently for cussing out the school principal. Seriously.
A good friend of mine is a Big Brother to a teenager in another nearby city. That teen also lives in a broken home. Some days, he doesn’t feel like going to school, so he doesn’t.
Is there no big picture in this life?
No goals to aspire to?
In the mentoring program I’m involved in, we’re not allowed to talk about politics or religion. Too divisive. Yes, they are.
But is that how we solve problems, by saying that certain subjects are off-limits?
I thought democracy meant all issues are on the table. By discussing, even debating, issues, we understand what’s too radical and what actually works.
We don’t know how to talk issues without talking personality. How can we talk about sex without condemning those who practice sex differently than we do? Can we disagree and still respect each other?
That’s what we’ve lost in this country. Respect.
For teachers. For parents. For the boss. For the mayor. For the police.
I’m right. You’re wrong. The world revolves around me. I can set whatever rules for my life that I want.
And we wonder why we’re so messed up.
A motorcyclist passed me the other day in a right-turn lane. Another vehicle and I were stopped, waiting for traffic to clear before proceeding on to state Route 57, a 45 mph highway at that point. The motorcyclist passed us in the turn lane and roared onto Route 57 before the other driver and I could move.
So much for “look out for motorcycles.” It goes both ways, you know.
Or, I wish you knew.
So, what is the big picture? How is my outlook changing?
While I can’t talk about my faith in school (unless my student brings it up first, of course), that’s where the answer lies. Not in your perception of faith, or mine, but in real faith.
In a God who wrote the big picture. Who wants the best for us.
Discipline is good, sometimes. My student doesn’t understand that. Most adults don’t either.
Good parents do understand that. Children need boundaries. If you’ve had children, you know this.
So, why do we think that we don’t need boundaries as adults?
Political boundaries change all the time. You and I think differently, so the boundaries I set may not work for you, and vice versa.
If we don’t like them, we can change them.
Why will we not look up? Put the video games down, look away from the porn, turn off the music. LeBron James and Steven Spielberg make far more money than you and I will ever see, but are they the best role models? Do they have all the answers?
When I talk about faith, I don’t even mean in a pastor or the Pope. Their interpretations of faith aren’t always right, either.
The best role model? Jesus Himself. And we killed Him.
If Jesus walked the Earth in the flesh today, we’d kill Him again. I’m sure of it.
We still don’t get it.
We’re searching for love in all the wrong places.
Haven’t heard that song in awhile.