If hearing the expression “Breaking News” or the insistent anthems assigned to them shake your focus unlike ever before, you are not alone. Regardless of your voting choices, there is a political anxiety that is not only palpable in the United States, it is global. We are collectively living in a sustained moment of “What’s Next!”
It is no secret that the civic environment is no longer civil. It is filled with abused political mechanisms, dubious candidates, cyber attacks, rumors and falsehoods spun as facts, and media outlets delighting in the profits that fear produces, consistently stimulating a low hum of public outrage.
These are the soft yet menacing aspects of our current state of political anxiety.
Just on the outskirts, threatening in the shadows of our imagination are fears-- perceived or real, intimate or remote. They are guaranteed to inflame the strongest emotions within us, especially when related to potential harm to family, the innocent or our country; as well as violations to established norms.
Sometimes, the catalysts for our fears takes a human form: a leader, a group, an institution, an ethnic or religious group, or even a nationality.
For some of us, this monster lurking just beyond the frame is a veiled threat of violent action. When day-to-day reporting includes mass shootings, suicide vests, drone strikes, beheadings and more, these extremes in physical attacks clearly demonstrate the inhumanity of the human species.
When violence has been introduced as a normalized part of one’s reality (line-of-fire engagement, regardless of environment), removing the worst outcomes from the decision tree may not be simple for some. However, those of us who have only CONSUMED these extremes via media and entertainment choices; have we chosen to keep our anxiety overly elevated and triggered our own responses to threats?
The question is worth pondering. Has an American lifestyle that suckles on graphically violent video games; snacks on the most destructive footage from wars abroad; nibbles only the headlines regarding domestic events; gulps the egotistical characters on scripted, reality-based and news programs for validation and authenticity -- has this become our neighbor, our civic partner, our loved one? If this is the case, it not only explains their anxiety – but ours as well.
Detoxing is not only good for the body, it’s wise to consciously embrace methods to purge mentally, too. Especially in this period of political anxiety and societal stress, find options that will snap you out of your routine of over-stimulation. A few minutes of quiet may work for some. However, others may prefer volunteering to have a stronger connection with humanity.
Our gallery below features a few additional options to reduce the clatter of political anxiety. If you have a few ideas for us to share, please send them our way.