Spring break has arrived in my school district. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Indeed, my prayer for our nation is that we take the time to appreciate a collective spring break.
I want to be careful in how I say this, as someone who spent more than half of my professional career in the news business:
We need to be intentional in how we address the indictment of Donald Trump. It’s not a matter of politics, per se.
It’s a matter of mental health. Regardless of whether one voted for Trump or for Joe Biden:
Whether one likes him or is indifferent to Biden: a hallmark of his administration has been its low-key approach to governing.
Critics might say he’s not done much, or not done enough.
To me, one important thing he has done is to refuse to stoke a nation’s attention deficit.
By contrast, Trump is not satisfied unless all attention is on him, and there’s little he won’t do or say to get that attention. It matters not to him whether people love him or hate him so long as they focus on him. To that end, the next several weeks and months will feed his appetite.
And – so long as the outcome is what it has been throughout his life – he will amp up the energy, soak in all the focus, and bask in the countless op-eds, televised punditry, and shutdown of daily governing as politicos excoriate or defend him.
Can we try something different?
In this world of iPhones and Apple Watches and every possible way to keep tabs on the drama of the day, can we just stop?
Go for a walk. Take in the spring. Chat with our neighbors.
Hug our kids, or dogs, or cats (though they won’t like that).
And then, consciously and defining our limits, re-engage with the day’s news.
I’ll never argue for ignorance. An educated citizenry is a necessity for a nation’s survival.
But there’s a difference between spending our time educating ourselves and allowing ourselves to consume a 24/7 anxiety-inducing banquet.
After a couple of decades in the newsroom, I moved to the school counselor’s office, seeing things in different light.
It feels like more and more often, I encounter students (and their parents) who report of above-normal levels of anxiety and/or depression, as well as diagnosed deficits in attention.
It’s not my job to diagnose. Still, I can’t help but wonder:
When we didn’t have access to iPhones and Apple Watches and every possible way to distract ourselves from the task at hand by getting the latest on, say, Donald Trump – were we always this way?
My ruminating stops as I notice the dogwoods and azaleas beckoning.
And my cat Venus is zooming from room to room, trying to get my attention.
It’s spring break. Time to enjoy it.
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