The last time I paid ongoing attention to the news was in the spring, before a cross country move and the subsequent chaos in my personal life. I was vaguely aware of various GOP politicians announcing their candidacy for president, of several more horrific shootings and deaths, and of a supreme court ruling on gay marriage that pleasantly surprised me. It was sort of a blur of happy, sad and comic, to be honest.
About a week ago, something in my brain re-engaged. I’ve always been a news junkie. It began with high school speaking competitions, and was strengthened as I got a journalism degree in college. I usually care about what is happening in the world, and when you follow it every day you don’t realize that your own mind fails to question the logic of what is going on. The problem with stepping away from it all for awhile is that at least some of it is hard to believe when you come back.
Donald Trump is the leading GOP candidate in the polls? Really? Followed by a distant Ben Carson? Nobody is making this up? What happened to all those other guys who seemed kind of rational?
I read that thousands of refuges from Syria and Iraq are desperate to get asylum in Germany but for some reason they are are stuck in Hungary because of red tape. The sad image of the washed up body of a small boy has finally inspired outrage at the situation, and has also inspired this moving sand sculpture by
hungry, thirsty and exhausted families have banded together in a massive march to the Austrian border. Hungarian police seem to be helpless to either aid them or stop them, and so are advising them to at least wear clothing easily visible at night. It sounds surreal. Surely this story isn’t true. What went so horribly wrong here? And why to do I have to turn to the BBC for more information on this subject?
Oh yes. The USA is busy being transfixed by a clerk in Kentucky who has decided that her personal religious convictions allow her to refuse to do her job. Apparently resigning isn’t an option for her, and neither is the time honored method of delegating tasks she does not believe in to her sub-ordinates. (Her deputies in Rowan County will obey the law of the land and issue marriage licenses to any two humans who want them, but this particular clerk is having none of that either).
Twitter was LIAO thanks to the witty twits of a fictitious clerk in the same Kentucky office, and while the humor flared on one end with internet memes, it erupted with outrage on the other as the U.S. supreme court refused to get involved and a U.S. District Judge sent the sanctimonious clerk on to jail, where she may refuse to issue marriage licenses that offend her for as long as she likes.
What is wrong with us?
I don’t ask that question when I watch the news most nights. It all seems normal then. I think perhaps I should take a break like this more often.