Upon being a good citizen

The big fat “should” parading through my office and my life lately is that “I should be an informed citizen”–and that implies keeping up on the latest world/national events as a key component of good citizenship.

Who says?

Now, caveat emptor, what I’m about to write might sound like one big rationalization coming from me. Oh well. I’m the one that burst out laughing years ago when my spouse was talking about a coworker being shipped off to Kazakhstan on business. My husband is a teasing sort, enjoys making up new words, and I was certain this was a country in that vein. Kazakhstan? Really? I swore he was making it up; he swore it was a real place. I’m also the one that found out about Bin Laden’s capture/death from the tile guy, the next morning. I’m clearly not Ms. Carrie Current Events. Guilty as charged.

But I’m also a fairly sensitive person. Pain imbues much of life sitting in my office each day. I began my career working with emotionally, physically, and sexually-abused children. And I had to make a conscious decision, again years ago, that the news–especially with video involved–was too much on top of all that my work required me to encounter. Ditto for television shows, films, and books that are packed with harm and pain. NOT entertainment, and too much a toll on my emotional equilibrium.

Therefore, I avoid most of the news. I educate myself about issues that I can affect, by voting or writing letters, following through to control what I can within the political process. But aside from practicing loving-kindness meditation for the world’s people and donating to charities which support my philosophy as they do good in the world, what influence do I have? I really don’t think reminding myself about terrorism or natural disasters contributes to my value as a person.

If you’re also a sensitive type, as many are, and this element of our lives, with the 24 hour news cycle that cable TV and the internet have wrought, stresses you, cut yourself some slack. Find another way to contribute to your world and turn off (or tune out) awareness of the violence out there. With no shame.

And if you need fodder for conversation at the next party or even the evening dinner table, check out Good News Daily or, my favorite source of the week’s news, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on NPR.