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Advances in apathy

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.

5+

16 Comments

  1. StevefromMA
    StevefromMA June 18, 2017 12:22 pm

    Claire,

    I can’t remember the last time I read something that resonated with me so fully.

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  2. Biba
    Biba June 18, 2017 1:20 pm

    Claire,

    Today is my Birthday…thank you for this.

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  3. Desertrat
    Desertrat June 18, 2017 1:30 pm

    I’ve been thinking, “Hey! Heinlein’s crazy years are here!” since, I dunno, twenty or so years back. Maybe longer. šŸ™‚

    Kim duToit just wrote about his desire for entertaining dinner companions as opposed to deep thinkers. No argument from me, for sure.

    “The best way to live free is to avoid idiots.” — Me. And evade idiots’ laws, of course.

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  4. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 18, 2017 4:28 pm

    Sounds good to me. I’d join you, except I do have grandkids, in kindergarten.

    Meanwhile, Nonpolitical Dustup of the Week:
    Back in March Rotary International announced some very restrictive anti-gun policies, like prohibiting firearms as raffle prizes. They cited “financial and reputational risk.”

    After what I expect was a hardball counseling session with what I suspect was a whole bunch of U.S. members, they switched sides.
    https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170616/rotary-turns-180-degrees-on-restrictive-firearm-polices

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  5. David Gross
    David Gross June 18, 2017 4:56 pm

    I think it’s healthy not to care… to an extent. First you have to make sure you are not supporting things with your effort and money and then ignoring those same things when you don’t want to take responsibility for the consequences of that support.

    As Thoreau put it: ā€œIt is not a manā€™s duty, as a matĀ­ter of course, to deĀ­vote himĀ­self to the eradĀ­iĀ­catĀ­ion of any, even the most enorĀ­mous wrong; he may still propĀ­erly have other conĀ­cerns to enĀ­gage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it pracĀ­tiĀ­cally his supĀ­port. If I deĀ­vote myĀ­self to other purĀ­suits and conĀ­temĀ­platĀ­ions, I must first see, at least, that I do not purĀ­sue them sitĀ­ting upon anĀ­other manā€™s shoulĀ­ders. I must get off him first, that he may purĀ­sue his conĀ­temĀ­platĀ­ions too. (See what gross inĀ­conĀ­sisĀ­tency is tolĀ­erĀ­aĀ­ted. I have heard some of my townsĀ­men say, ā€˜I should like to have them orĀ­der me out to help put down an inĀ­surĀ­recĀ­tion of the slaves, or to march to MexĀ­ico,ā€‰ā€”ā€‰see if I would go;ā€™ and yet these very men have each, diĀ­rectly by their alĀ­leĀ­giance, and so inĀ­diĀ­rectly, at least, by their money, furĀ­nished a subĀ­stiĀ­tute. The solĀ­dier is apĀ­plauded who reĀ­fuses to serve in an unĀ­just war by those who do not reĀ­fuse to susĀ­tain the unĀ­just govĀ­ernĀ­ment which makes the war; is apĀ­plauded by those whose own act and auĀ­thorĀ­ity he disĀ­reĀ­gards and sets at nought; as if the State were penĀ­iĀ­tent to that deĀ­gree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that deĀ­gree that it left off sinĀ­ning for a moĀ­ment. Thus, unĀ­der the name of order and civil govĀ­ernĀ­ment, we are all made at last to pay homĀ­age to and supĀ­port our own meanĀ­ness.)ā€ (parentheses added)

    Want to ignore Qatar? A company you partially own in your 401k may have just sold its government $12 billion in F15s. Want to ignore what Trump is up to? If you continue to pay your federal taxes, you don’t get that privilege.

    It’s worth it to do the work to earn that privilege. As Thoreau also said, ā€œa man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.ā€

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  6. Tom Fournelle
    Tom Fournelle June 18, 2017 6:42 pm

    Thanks! This is exactly how I’m feeling, but didn’t really put in into words before – it was too much work and I didn’t care! (But I’m glad someone more articulate did!)

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  7. Claire
    Claire June 18, 2017 7:25 pm

    Happy birthday, Biba!

    Glad to be of service, everybody.

    David Gross — I agree, but as you did I also agree to a point. Not funding government is certainly the “pure” position, and being conscious of where your invested or tax-stolen money is going is always a good idea. But there are other paths for those who must pay their government-funding penalties. Other ways like: funding resistance; working as moles; agitating against the system that binds them, making court challenges or various intellectual challenges (or funding such challenges by others). Just to name a few.

    I know many loudmouthed freedomistas (including yours truly) who survive because in-the-system moles and agitators make a point of doing things that say a big FU to government even as they pay and pay and pay.

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  8. just waiting
    just waiting June 18, 2017 10:27 pm

    Politics is a tough drug to quit, and I offer all my support in helping you kick.

    We got away from it about 10 years ago, when we realized that political news was really just like a pre game show that never ended, nothing more than know nothings talking and writing ad nauseam about wage a bunch bought and paid for politicos may or may not do.

    It has been a blessing and time freer to be done with it. Being able to say “I don’t care”, and really mean, it is the for step.

    While I won’t do politics, I do still read the political headlines and pay close attention to actual governance behind them. Its important to follow the enactment of things that really do affect me and the small part of the world I live in. For the last month or so I’ve been watching a coup take place in my local county government, TPTB have managed a backdoor usurpation of the clear will of the voters in a recent referendum. While I’m disgusted by the political play behind the coup, the plan has been conducted over time, with patience and precision. It truly has been a beautiful if evil thing to watch.

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  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty June 19, 2017 5:05 am

    Great post, Claire. I’ve said much the same for a long time… except that I was never interested in politics beyond trying to think of ways to avoid the repercussions. More and more, since I can’t do a thing about what politicians do, I’ve quit paying it much attention since I came to Wyoming. So much happier…

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  10. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray June 19, 2017 7:22 am

    I don’t care

    Smart move, and a sign of increasing wisdom (although, a probably more accurate phrasing might be having overdosed on it, I no longer choose to self inflict Caring).

    I gave it up years ago. No cable (save for Al Gore’s high speed intertubes), no satellite, and almost zero broadcast television. I am, however, deeply interested in local stuff, “local” being defined as “what I can see over my front sight.” If it’s farther out than about 800 meters, it’s someone else’s problem (formerly, that “someone else” was usually the mortar squad, today it’s the cops who, unfortunately, do not have artillery battalions. Pity. Sometimes a full set of 155 tubes is the answer.).

    It’s terribly easy to overdose on Caring, and we do it all the time. Or, rather, we’re expected to do it all the time, and it’s heresy to announce one is giving it up. FYI, heresy is quite easy to survive, just stop caring about the people screaming you’re a heretic.

    Welcome aboard, Claire.

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  11. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 19, 2017 8:26 am

    I have been sober from politics for almost a year now.

    I care and I wish I didn’t, it is really hard to go cold turkey but I have really really really reduced the daily dose, I have not participated on a political campaign in almost a year, the main problem is that I still have friends that partake, I still like to discussed what’s happening with them, I did vote (what a waste that was) and my business requires some footprint, it’s like saying light beer ain’t Gin, so that’s OK, but we all know it’s not.

    One day at a time it will be however my footprint will be getting smaller not larger. My mate has turned her back on it all and I admire her for it, she keeps reminding me not to waver, it is hard.

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  12. Tahn
    Tahn June 19, 2017 12:49 pm

    ā€œI donā€™t care. Really, this time. I do. Not. Care.ā€

    Thatā€™s exactly how I feel about housecleaning and dishes Claire.

    As to politics, decades ago I followed the advice of a very smart Doctor..ā€Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out.ā€ Mostly works.

    When I still get ā€œthose feelingsā€, I just go outside, smoke a little of Mothers Sacred Herb and listen to John Prine, whose advise I also followed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ6INAayEJI

    Great article Claire, Thank You!

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  13. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson June 19, 2017 5:26 pm

    Unfortunately, I care. I care about truth, about what really WAS and IS. As a history major and continuing history buff, I know that distant events, separated from us by space and time, have profound effects on our everyday lives. We cannot understand the here and now realities if we do not understand the chain of events that led us here…and then project forward how it might play out in our future. We prepare for trouble by saving money, delaying purchases, stockpiling supplies because we have a past/present/future narrative in our heads that says it might be a good idea to prepare for some nasty probabilities. To some extent, we have to ‘care’ about the crazies in DC, who are directly related to the right wing crazies overseas, who incite our left wing crazies, and the whole thing circles around and raises our costs, steals our privacy, and threatens to kill us.

    What happens to Trump matters because the ripple effect determines the fate of the economy, the condition of our civil liberties, and the prospects for living in peace. He may be powerless to change things, but things will change. What is the old phrase…something like….you may have no interest in politics, but politics has an interest in you.

    I gave up all news and internet a couple of years ago for about one month. The first week was tough, but by the end of the month I hardly missed it. Then, as the new month began, I logged in and …I could make no sense of things. Pundits were talking to each other with indecipherable code words that they assumed everyone was hip to. But I was ignorant of the meanings. While I was out of the loop there were wars, plane crashes scandals, and a whole new social language to deal with it. To converse with others, I needed to get back up to speed.

    So I care. I understand that most other people don’t. It is time consuming and can be exhausting. Sometimes it seems pointless. But then, when I’m confused by some current event, I’ll ask myself, “I wonder what is true,” and I’m off to the races.

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  14. Claire
    Claire June 20, 2017 11:24 am

    Pat — Thanks for the moment of pure goodness.

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