I wrote last week that I was not going to have any resolutions for 2016. Well, I lied or, rather, I reconsidered. It was not an easy decision to make but after this morning’s 8 o’clock news broadcast, I have resolved to not listen, watch, read or imbibe in any news programs for the year. There it is. What is the point, eh? Will my knowing or not knowing make any difference in the amount of suffering and stupidity and hate and selfishness and meanness that is flexing its muscle out there in the world? I don’t think so. I mean I don’t go to cocktail parties or other social engagements where being up on all, what we used to call, “Current Events” could make or break the evening. I know this sounds like a very head-in-the-sand-ish attitude, but I don’t care. I’ve had it.
This morning, while I was thoroughly enjoying my very-good bowl of oatmeal — I know that sounds like an oxymoron to some of you out there who hate oatmeal but I happen to love the stuff — the 8 a.m. news came on CBC Radio. The newscasters on CBC are Very Serious and deliver the news Very Seriously. I almost feel like they are saying directly to me, “Yo, Ann, Listen Up! This Is Important! Your Life Depends Upon You Knowing This!” So I listened and I heard stories of babies in Syria that are being starved to death in the name of gaining territory. I heard a young mother challenge the President of the United States to just try to take her gun away from her, a gun she says she needs to “protect her children.” (What happened to just holding their hands when they cross the street?) I heard of a man who beat and starved his daughter until she died at age 17 when he put her remains inside a suitcase and forgot about her. I heard of a slow economic recovery and that the Loony will remain low — well, that last point is actually good news for me (but don’t tell any of my Canadian friends). I mean, really, did it matter that I heard all that and felt helpless and sad. And then, just in case I didn’t get it the first time, they repeated it all again at 9 o’clock. It’s too much.
When I lived in Europe in the 1970s, I survived ten years with just the skimpiest knowledge of what the hell was going on in the world. This was way before the internet stuck it’s intrusive nose into everyone’s lives so I had to rely on an occasional Herald Tribune or Newsweek to get the scoop. Other than that, I was left to my own devices by trying to figure out the “news” story from the pictures that flashed across the TV mounted above the door at Ishmael’s bar. You can lose a whole lot in that kind of translation, believe me. Other than that, a friend from DC, used to send packages of old Time magazines and books every once in a while. I’d read the six-month or year old magazines from cover to cover, not so much for the content, but just loving that I could understand the words and didn’t have to guess. When I returned to the states in 1981, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t listened to Walter Cronkite every night. What did matter was that I could still type and could still get a job and that was that.
I remember my mother staying up to watch — or sleep through — the late news. It was a part of her daily ritual. Every night she’d be there in her big, comfortable chair waiting to find out what had happened in Columbus and the world (in that order of significance) since the 6 o’clock news she had watched. I never got in the habit of watching either of those times, especially the later one. For one thing, I have always been someone who went to bed by 10 p.m. and spent any still-awake time reading. In DC I particularly avoided it. I really didn’t need to know that there had been a shooting three streets over and the assailant was still at large. I lived in a very, shall we say, “active” neighborhood and I definitely did not need the kind of bedtime-story that the nightly news would offer. It was bad enough that I’d probably have to pass the chalked image of the victim on the street when I walked to work the next day.
Maybe I’ll just follow Simon and Garfunkel’s advise and “get all the news I need on the Weather Report”. It’s what really matters in day-to-day living, eh? Is it going to snow tomorrow? Will the streets be icy and dangerous for Harriet? Do I need to put on or take off another layer? Simple, easy, doable life stuff. But, I know I’ll be tempted tomorrow to break my resolution. After all, tomorrow’s Saturday and the Toronto Star presumably (they’ve been very iffy in their deliveries lately) will be there on my porch waiting for me. Maybe I’ll just skip the front section and concentrate on the good stuff that’s happening in the city — and the TV section, of course.