When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, I went on a news fast. I’ve done it before, from time to time, for two reasons. First, the current news keeps me up at night and poisons the good parts of my waking life. And secondly, it teaches me nothing new. I already know the terrible bits of our national and global situation. The big picture is clear, the accumulation of horrendous details doesn’t add anything.
So I’ve been abstaining from the daily news cycle. I do however read the New York Review of Books, whose essays are disguised as book reviews, but are really long and excellent essays on whatever topic the book is about. The same is true of the London Times Literary Supplement, which gives me a more global picture of humanity’s ups and downs. So economics and politics and the pandemic do sneak in under my anti-news barriers. Plus, friends tell me things.
Being a consumer of news, filtered or not, is such a passive approach. OK, so we’ve done a few active things; we all marched a couple months ago with Black Lives Matter. It felt good. But what should we be doing now to take our anti-racist intentions off the street and into courtrooms, prisons, police training programs, city, county and state budget discussions, family dinner tables? A new sign popped up in my neighborhood a week or so ago that very boldly challenges us to take the sorts of actions that are excellent next steps.
Or maybe your concern of choice is American women’s looming loss of (even more) control over their bodies. Planned Parenthood’s campaign “No Matter What” is worth supporting with as much money and time as you can manage. Or maybe you want to stop America’s deportation machine from breaking up even more families. Call your local ACLU or any group of immigration attorneys and find out what they need, and then give it to them.
Find problems worth working on. Find organizations that are capable of tackling them. Add what value you can to their work. Appreciate your efforts. You’ll feel better for it.