As we set off on the first leg of the Adventure in the summer of 2021, one of my concerns was how I would deal with the partisanship that exists in our country. On this first leg, we traveled from New York, through the upper midwest and landed in Montana, so there was plenty of opportunity for dialogue with all types of Americans who lived in those places and were traveling like us.
What I noticed on that trip and the subsequent one to the south is that no one likes to talk about politics as much as New Yorkers, other Progressives and the talking heads in the media. To my surprise, it NEVER came up with one exception – another couple who was just like us.
Of course, this is not a statistically relevant sample of the country as a whole. It’s anecdotal, at best, and may have to do with the fact that I didn’t engage people on divisive subjects. It could also be that fellow travelers and shopkeepers simply had other things on their minds.
This last point is my point. There are other things to think about besides politics. For example, we can talk about trails to hike, foods to try, emotions we’re feeling or our children. The list is long and, to me, much more positive and interesting than talking about Washington and what the news media is shoving down our throats to build ratings.
I believe that we who consume the news are engaging in a form of malnutrition. I’ve observed it in myself and in others around me. Garbage in, garbage out. Now, I’m not saying that abstinence is the answer, but I’ve come to realize that treating the issues of the day like an all-night, all-you-can-eat buffet is going to lead to a bad heart and a fat butt.
Here in New York, I have an acquaintance who consistently tries to force-feed me her politics. You know the type because these conspiracy-minded individuals are popping up like Subway franchises. In my case, this person has refused to stop feeding me her opinions, so I have decided to create a boundary between me and her. I’ve blocked her from my email, much to my chagrin, and I may have to separate from her socially, too.
I have no compunction about a conversation about important issues. This is healthy. However, I do not want to be converted by a religious zealot, a vitamin salesman or a person who wants me to switch to their shampoo in order to have wonderful hair. I’m an adult and it’s my right to hold up my hand and say, “stop” or switch the channel.
So, diversity of opinion is fine and dandy. Better is taking a walk in the woods, singing a song and writing a new one. And the sad news? This individual is a great walking partner, musician and creator. Unfortunately, her decision to mix in a strong dose of Dr. Morgan’s Famous Healing Bourbon ain’t what this teetotaler wants in his life.
So, Vive la Difference, but keep your hands off of my right to just be me.