I did something yesterday that no good conservative should ever do: I unsubscribed, unfollowed, and unliked several accounts and pages on social media that constantly post “America! Hell Yeah!” type stuff.
I do not know how to describe it any other way except as very cathartic. Except I did not openly express anything. I quietly unburdened myself of constant posting that has done nothing except wear me down over time.
Cue sigh of relief.
I am tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, I am exhausted. I am quite certain that this is where many others find themselves. Many of us are world-weary, beat down and chewed up by an increasingly nihilistic world. We have lost sight of our purpose, and with it, our hope.
So, what does a world-weary people do? They turn to politics.
In this age of 24 hour news cycles deciding for us what we think and believe, where our identities are determined by our arbitrary alignments with certain political parties, and our righteous cause is now to win the political fight against those we have determined are “evil” or are our “enemies,” our souls have become drained. We are losing our ability to connect with others, to build real communities, and to use our freedom for something wholly good.
Perhaps one big reason why we are drained by all that is because the human mind, heart, and soul is not meant to constantly be so deeply immersed in the frivolous and inconsequential.
Now you may respond by saying, “So you don’t care about aborted babies? You don’t care about families being separated at the border? You don’t care about our military? Our debt? Our LIBERTY?! You think our LIBERTY is frivolous and inconsequential?!”
Of course, all those things are important. I also think our politics would be a million times better if these issues were at the forefront. Instead, what are we constantly getting? Things of this variety: right-wing pundit owns left-wing person, left-wing big shot calls all right-wingers racists, celebrity A or B says they like Trump, celebrity C or D says they hate Trump, so much winning is happening, Trump tweeted something crazy, news media put up a b.s. story, “conservative” page put up a snarky meme, and on and on.
Our politics is hardly focused on issues, and more importantly, solutions. Instead, our politics is focused on the partisan cage fighting, where the door is locked, the keys are thrown away, and everyone is either wildly punching in all directions or are heckling. Ideas on policy in the halls of government and socio-cultural standards in the public square are now replaced with the bloodsport where no matter who lands the K.O., our nation still loses.
The left is obsessed with Trump to the point where he is now their bad addiction that they hate and rage about but keep going back to get their hit. The right sees Trump as their one true hope, and the thought of him being criticized, even by his political opponents, is met with unbridled emotion and anger. We love our politics and our politicians to the point where they have taken over our thoughts and habits.
For eight years under President Obama, the left never seemed satisfied, fulfilled, or happy. Under President Trump, the right is largely the same way. Both sides are now at a fever pitch of antagonism towards each other, both having gone to extreme ends of their political ideologies and identities, that the bridge has been burnt to a crisp.
I get it, it is near impossible to find common ground with those who not only hold diametrically opposed viewpoints, but who see those opposite of them as truly wicked doers of evil. Of course, it is made much easier to find common ground if our politics is not the center of our lives. It also seems possible that, the more we dig our heels in and refuse to find commonality with our fellow Americans, the more extreme our views of ourselves and everybody else become.
I am not going to say the best course of action is to completely unplug, shut off everything, and bury our heads in the sand. Many of the issues facing our nation are severe and should be handled seriously and prudently. Many of them also should be largely non-partisan.
At some point, however, we need to go back to first things: faith, family, friendships, community, virtue, selflessness, a willingness to serve others, and kindness. A nation that cannot uphold these things is doomed to fail, even if our economy grows, our military remains strong, our debts are paid, and our liberties remain. In fact, I would suggest that failure to uphold these things assures that all things will be made worse.
It is not a question of who is in office, what political affiliation we claim, or what group we are supposed to belong to. The question is this: who or what do we serve? And to what ends? Are we dedicated to God, or something virtuous that is in intention and action good and serving better ourselves, our communities, and our nation, or are we dedicated to the divisiveness, the partisan bloodsport, and the rising animosity?
I hope and pray that, somehow, we bring ourselves back from the brink. Where we are currently heading, none of us are going to like.