Twenty-two percent of American rightwing fundamentalists believe that Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. On the other hand, 73 percent of the people who read my horoscopes think that if there were such a thing as an Anti-Christ, he would be an American rightwing fundamentalist. But I’d like to discourage speculations like that among the Virgo tribe in 2010. According to my reading of the omens, you should take at least a year off from getting worked up about your version of the devil. Whoever you demonize, just let them alone for a while. Whatever you tend to fault as the cause of the world’s problems, give your blame mechanism a rest. As much as possible, create for yourself an Enemy-Free Zone.
I’m pretty proud of the fact that, back in October, I was able to pull myself out of the cesspool that political blogging can become. As I said in my inaugural Fish & Bicycles post, I’d grown so narrowly focused on writing about politics that I was betraying my original vision for the blog, a vision that included writing content on a wide variety of topics.
But what I didn’t mention in that post was just how demoralizing it was to be a political blogger. After all, in order to do it well, one must spend hours every single day reading about all the crap going on in Washington, around the country, and all over the globe. While I’m no advocate for living with one’s head in the sand, I am also not a masochist, and I really think you either need to be a masochist or you need to have a much thicker skin than I do in order to write about politics long-term.
And this idea of Brezsny’s of an Enemy-Free Zone is nearly impossible to create and sustain if you are an opinion blogger, as far as I can tell or could experience.
The cool thing is that my decision to stop being a political blogger has spilled over into my offline life as well. I’m incredibly hesitant to enter into political discussions even with folks who I know are of the same liberal persuasion as I am, and a recent incident at least temporarily avoided co-creating another enemy.
I was at a holiday party, sitting around a firepit, the beer and wine was flowing, and folks, some I knew, some I didn’t, were making casual conversation. Eventually, the discussion turned towards politics and I felt the red flag go up. I observed how the mood degraded from friendly and festive towards frustration, bitterness, betrayal, and anger. I kept quiet and didn’t engage, hoping the topic would run its course quickly and return to lighter, perhaps more frivolous fare.
Then, suddenly, this exchange happened:
Guest #1:I’m so sick and tired of Rush Limbaugh!
Guest #2: What’s so terrible about Rush?
Guest #1 Are you serious?!!
Guest #2: Totally serious. I like Rush Limbaugh!
Me: Excuse me, nice talking to you folks, but I’m going get a refill and find someone to talk about skiing with.
Ok, so, I didn’t actually say that bit about finding someone to talk to about skiing.
I just excused myself and walked away.
It felt great!