I don’t care.
Really, this time. I do. Not. Care. And I hope you don’t, either.
I don’t care about the latest earthshattering crisis in Qatar. I don’t care about Qatar. I don’t care if the whole bloody Middle East (with the exception of Israel) devours itself in fire and brimstone.
I don’t care what “covfefe” really means. And I don’t care that covfefe was last week’s craze and mentioning it now shows I’m hopelessly out of step with current events.
I don’t care if the Russians hacked the 2016 presidential election — any more than I care about who runs any other three-ring circus on the globe.
I don’t care whether the Pentagon plans further descent into wrack and ruin in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is where empires go to die. We’re in the graveyard already.
I care vaguely about North Korea, but only because those nutzoids might be both crazy and inept enough to aim a nuke at Seattle and hit me and my friends, instead. Likewise I care vaguely about the IRS, ATF, NSA, and their alphabetical ilk. But I certainly don’t care about whatever the latest fedpromise might be to “reform” them or “rein them in” or whatever. Been there. Done that. You don’t even get a good tee-shirt out of “reform.”
Although I considered last year’s election a fabulous clown show, and I just finished reading the dishy and apparently screamingly accurate Hillary campaign book, Shattered, I read the book solely for schadenfreude and not because I gave any sort of a damn.
My vague relief that we got President Donald rather than President Hillary dissipated months ago and now I do not even care to read, see, or hear Trump and the media sniping at each other. It’s about as interesting as listening snotty little schoolgirls on the playground.
It could be worse. It could be Her Royal Highness Chelsea of the House of Clinton. But.
I. Do. Not. Care.
This is not apathy. This is not burnout. I would like to pat myself on the back and say this is — finally — wisdom descending. (After all, how many times over the years have I said “we” shouldn’t care so much about every manufactured crisis or scandal, then turned right around and cared about the very next bit of political nonsense down the pike?)
Truth is, it’s just life.
As you’ve probably heard me say before, I was raised to politics at my mother’s knee. In the seventh grade I recall selecting a political assignment from a term project list and not only making up a booklet full of diagrams and photos about How Our System of Government Works. I actually found pictures of all the cabinet secretaries and knew all their names and histories. Coulda told you where the Secretary of Agriculture was born, even.
Mom was so proud.
I also knew the names of the leaders of Thailand, Germany, France, Laos, Indonesia, England, Ireland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Russia (of course; everybody knew that one), and probably Lower Slobovia and Elbonia, too. (And Elbonia didn’t even exist yet!)
And look how much freer the world is because I Informed Myself and Did My Civic Duty!
Now? Pffffft. I wish I couldn’t tell you the name of the president of the U.S.
I used to sneer at that huge percentage of polled people who couldn’t name the vice president. Now I envy them.
Most of them may have genuine apathy. I’m merely post-caring. A recovering carer. Yeah, I’ve said it before; a junkie.
But I have finally reached that point where even the cravings have left me. I could go down to City Hall and watch other people mainline politics and not even be tempted.
Back in the “don’t trust anybody over 30” era, anti-war activists accused the overwhelmingly pro-war older generation of being “too old to care” — that is, the oldsters didn’t have anything left at stake. They weren’t going to get drafted. They were going to face limited years of consequences, leaving the younger generation to suffer. Oldsters, of course, denied this. They saw themselves as patriots, and if the Murrican government said we needed a war, by golly, we must need a war.
But there was truth to the charge. If you’re 18 or 20 in the current Crazy Years, you’re going to suffer. If you have children or grandchildren growing up now, you care about how they’re going to suffer. Not me. Closest I come is worrying about the neighbor boys’ suffering, but I can look over the fence at them and say, “Not my responsibility.”
I used the junkie metaphor. But this is also like the state you reach when you’ve been in a terrible relationship. You fight. You agonize. You lie awake nights. You do everything you can to try to save it. You break up. But then you go back, at least a little ways. You remember the good times. You don’t want to give up too easily. You give it yet another chance. One of you might beg, beg, beg the other for a second — or a third — chance. And your heart gets torn out of your chest. Again.
All this is even worse if said ex has successfully guilt-tripped you: It’s your fault if I’m not happy. You never really loved me, did you? I’ll kill myself if you leave me! If you just quit acting that way, I wouldn’t get so angry. If you don’t v*te, then you’re not entitled to an opinion. It’s your responsibility as a citizen.
Then comes that day — that wondrous day — when the ex tries to engage you in some dark drama and you suddenly realize it’s over. It. Is. Over. You no longer feel bad. Or good. Or hopeful. Or despairing about the relationship. You feel nothing. Except emptiness, followed by a warm wave of relief that the long, hard, ugly drama has ended. And you know that the ex, however s/he tries to hurt you, has the power to do only superficial harm. S/he can destroy your credit, ruin your reputation, empty your bank accounts, even kill you, worse come to worst. But s/he can no longer reach into your soul and twist it.
You can LIVE.
Um. But of course, as with giving up cigarettes, booze, heroin, or crappy relationships, you often have to go through a lot of embarrassing relapses before you finally reach that great, great relief of guilt-free, genuine not caring.
It’s a journey. But at the end of it, your life belongs to you.
And then you die. But let’s not quibble.