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story.lead_photo.caption Brenda Looper

I'm tired.

No, not just because my brain won't shut up at night and let me sleep, though that has at least a little to do with it. It's the laughing at my attempts to sleep that annoy me the most; it doesn't even try a polite little snicker, instead going for all-out guffaws.

I'm tired of our not learning (or caring) about what works to curtail the spread of a disease that can kill, and that even among those who survive there are those whose lives will never be the same because its effects are being shown to linger. I'm tired because we allowed common-sense public health measures to become a political football, so much so that wearing a mask gets you instantly tagged as a "damn librul commie," despite evidence from other nations that shows if we had been following guidelines we'd be out of the worst of this by now.

I'm tired of seeing patriotism, which is love of country, equated with any particular political ideology. Disagreeing with a president doesn't mean you don't love your country, and athletes like Colin Kaepernick aren't protesting the U.S., the flag or the anthem, but injustice. Protests are an American tradition (Boston Tea Party, anyone?), and are protected by the Constitution; they've gone on before this president, and they will go on after him, with many patriots in the mix.

I'm tired of politics. I'm tired of the way it divides us for no good reason when quite often we're mostly in agreement. I'm especially tired of what author and pastor John Pavlovitz calls the "politics of spite" because people "want someone to stick it to the world on their behalf and this president does that."

"It's terribly sad to admit that a huge portion of this nation is moved not by party over country (which would be bad enough)--but by spite; that they care more about flipping Democrats the bird than the sovereignty of our nation," Pavlovitz wrote in a 2019 blog post. "To know that people you respected and loved and live and work with are moved primarily by anger as an engine is reason for mourning."

He's not wrong. I've had to snooze Facebook friends who refuse to see objective reality and reply with endless whataboutisms that ignore the matter at hand when you call their bluff with a fact-check. When it's someone close to me, it especially hurts to know that their views are so strident there is no room for disagreement.

In the politics of spite, what's important isn't the betterment of society, but "owning" the opposition, even at their own expense ... just as long as they think it will make the other side crazy.

From independent little me: All of it is crazy, and not the fun kind.

One side speaks fondly of the good ol' days without considering that those days weren't so good for those who weren't white and/or male, and the other side goes more than a bit overboard with its reactions and solutions. Calm down, both of you.

I long for the good ol' days, but mine are probably imaginary, or at least seem that way considering our political climate. I'd like to get back to having public servants rather than politicians, snake-oil salesmen and game-show hosts. Back to when elected representatives worked together for the greater good, regardless of party, and served all their constituents rather than just the ones who voted for them. When equal pay for equal work actually existed (because few families can afford to have one parent stay home anymore, and because it's just the right thing to do), and when no one had to fear being treated differently because of gender, race, religion, or who you love.

But in the world we live in now, grievance politics is what sells. Paint the opposition in broad strokes as satanic, holy rollers, soulless automatons, toothless rednecks, dunces who can't cross the street by themselves, or whatever else you can think of. Just make sure everyone will see that you're the victim of these evil people and/or the people who coddle them, and that you're really angry about it.

Really?

Occam's Razor would posit that the surge in covid-19 infections comes not from more testing but from more people disregarding mask mandates because "FREEDOM!" It would also remind you that actions have consequences.

It would say that you, not unseen forces, are more than likely the cause of your current situation. The choices you made placed you where you are. You are the author of your destiny. I've had lots of choices in my life that would have taken me in a different direction. Had I accepted a job offer from a school friend 25 years or so ago, I would still be in broadcasting rather than working in what was my first love, print journalism. I'd probably be making more money, but ...

And I've made many mistakes, including one in last week's column: The fear of doctors is "iatrophobia," not "latrophobia." I could use the excuse that sans serif fonts make the uppercase I and lowercase l look the same, and that many others made the same mistake, judging by the number of Google results for both spellings. But no, the mistake was mine.

Am I mad about it? Maybe, but only at myself.

--ā€“ā€“ā€“ā€“ā€“vā€“ā€“ā€“ā€“ā€“--

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com.

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