Last month I put out a question: “Are you reading this?” Someone answered, and he was not happy.
In an e-mail, the reader stated that he had reached the point of maximum frustration with the partisan biases in the Observer, specifically on the editorial pages. “I make a point of reading the Observer when it arrives because it’s an opportunity to learn about what is going on around town. However, those days are likely to come to an end pretty soon and the Observer will likely go from the mailbox to the recycle bin, unread,” he wrote.
I wrote back that I sympathized with his frustrations, not with the Observer, per se, but other media sources and the polarized world in general. To preserve my sanity, I simply had to cut myself off from the things that set me off. I understood if he had to do the same.
As much as politicians, the media and a gaggle of attention-getters want you to think otherwise, it is just not worth losing your mind over politics. The individuals who try to stoke your darker passions pursue an agenda, whether it’s political or economic, and your emotional state is only collateral damage for whatever they hope to achieve. In short, they don’t care if you lose your mind.
Ironically, the most meaningful act you can do is also the simplest: Vote. Sure, you can go to rallies, speak up at town meetings, write elected officials or even personally lobby them. All those things are merely a show of force — a demonstration of power promised to be manifested by the voters. What every elected official, from town selectmen to the nation’s president, dreads most is losing on Election Day.
If you can’t wait for Election Day, there are other ways to make the world a better place. Be an attentive friend. Be neighborly. Don’t tailgate. Break down boxes before going to the compactor at the dump. Get along and go along. Say please and thank you. Be nice.
I concluded the message to my reader by writing “I can’t apologize for what someone else wrote, but I can extend my apologies that we live in times where we drive each other crazy and for whatever role I may have played to reach that state. Speaking as one of the volunteers and contributors for the Observer, I can assure you that we have the best of intentions. We just want to improve community life in Suffield as much as we can and help make our town a better place in which to live.”