Do you hear the silence? The lack of dings on your cellphone, the absence of “Breaking News” bulletins on your TV, the reduction of text messages and e-mails and even phone calls full of commentary and exclamations from like-minded friends and those not-so-like-minded as well? Have you noticed the peace and quiet?
I have, and it’s a blessing. I am so tired of the noise. When you think about what we have been through just his month alone — the siege on the Capitol, the National Guard security at all State capitols, the impeachment in the House, the inauguration of a new President, the explosion of Coronavirus deaths amid a crippling shortage of Coronavirus vaccines, and now an impending debate over a covid relief bill and a Senate trial for a Trump impeachment — it is mind-boggling. And we’re only talking 24 days! No wonder a majority of the population is suffering some variation of PTSD. This has all gone on for far too long and, if we can agree on nothing else, I think we can all agree that we are exhausted.
So, the silence of the incessant social media and the normalcy of a return to the routine White House press conference is a welcome relief. I remarked after the first one on Day 1, “Boy, wasn’t that dull?” Thank goodness! I no longer feel the urgent need to tune in and bite my fingernails about what lies and conspiracy theories might be floated to create distraction that day. The news going forward may not always be good much less exciting, but at least I have confidence once again that it will be real, generated by real national and international concerns, not simply by the antics of one man.
Make no mistake, however; all the chaos and violence and vitriol in our society was a long-time coming, the seeds sown and nurtured long before the election of one man, and it will take a long time to repair, long after the election of another man. For all the talk of unity and forgiveness and, yes, even accountability, the moral, ethical, political, economic, regional, racial, religious, and cultural divides in America will not simply close because we wish them to, any more than not listening to the news means it isn’t bad because we didn’t hear it.
Americans need this national time out to do some soul searching and to evaluate our own accountability, as individuals, for whatever attitudes, actions and rhetoric we might have contributed over the years to the deep divisions that exist in our country, our communities, and our families. Only then can we hope to regain some peaceful co-existence with each other even when we disagree. It is “The Hill We Climb,” according to Amanda Gorman:
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.