Why I'm Done With the News

In the month of March, I have reduced my news consumption by approximately 80%, and it has been a most excellent decision. The simple fact of the matter is that nothing much is actually happening. It is all heat and no light. We have heard every word from Trump which can be heard -- if he is not signing a bill, an executive order, or starting a military conflict, then I hardly care what is going on anymore. It has all turned into a giant reality TV show that is exciting for the vain, superficial, and materialistic; insofar as these elements exist in me, I have chased it and pursued it, too. But enough is enough. I have been caught in a miserable depressive state for the last 18-24 months, which is exactly what I vowed would not happen. I tried to 'split the baby' and remain engaged with the circus-freakshow yet without being 'of it'; the result was that I could handle neither my higher nor lower concerns, and both suffered for it.

I have been hurting for some time now, and am starting to feel a lot better. But my case is not really so exceptional. Our country is hurting very badly right now. Communities are disintegrating. More people killed themselves trying to get high last year than died in the entire Vietnam War. People are exhausted and weary of life in a way reminiscent of the Hellenistic era. We are divided amongst ourselves in a way not seen since at least the 1960s. There is a serious lack of economic opportunity for the children of today's aging middle-class, and the opportunity that does exist feels like an empty dead-end to far too many.

The president, who should be an exemplar of moral leadership, is a know-nothing clown; we cannot turn to the politicians. The universities are stuffed with ideologues; we cannot turn to the scholars. The preachers are profiteering on television and bending doctrine and dogma to human convenience at every will; we cannot turn to ecclesiastical authority. The capitalists are exploiting their workers, who they no longer view as colleagues but as tools; we cannot turn to the capitalists. The families pass down their neuroses from generation to generation; we cannot even turn to our loved ones, oftentimes, and this is one of the hardest lessons to learn. Some lessons, we have to learn by ourselves, for ourselves.

I think there is no way out of this conundrum but to rediscover some semblance of authentic spiritual experience; that is to say -- gnosis -- an awakening to the fact that there exists a radical mystery about life binding all of us in a common and equal purpose; people will have to stop isolating themselves, people will have to stop making excuses, people will have to stop clinging to things. People will have to start admitting some hard truths. People will have to start paying attention to more things, taking responsibility for more things, rather than assuming that everything really tough must be 'somebody else's problem.' We must decide whether we are a people who sees fit to renew the promise of self-government -- which means taking responsibility for one's own life, one's family, one's community, one's nation; to stop taking the easy way out by either adhering to the letter of the law or disavowing the law entirely; to stop thinking it is the fault of the elites or the masses, when we are all complicit. Our culture is drowning in a morass of me-first, instant-gratification autoerotica. We all want to think we know best. But we have to start listening to each other in an authentic way. We have to learn to see ourselves in the other.

My purpose from this point forward will be to try to focus on the issues that matter, the people who need help, and the theories that have brought us here. I will comment on Trump from time to time if only because the presidency inevitably matters; the president always ends up 'counting' for something -- but my soul is more important than some role as a commentator, which insists on taking part in the daily melee. I won't do it; I can't do it -- and I will be a better, more productive writer for this change.

Alex Knepper