I am a recovering political junkie.
Having my own office I am can listen to whatever I wish. I’ve always enjoyed talk radio because it keeps my mind engaged (whereas music unplugs me). My husband introduced it to me back in the days when I was home with small children; it became the adult conversation during the day.
In these early days talk radio was intellectually stimulating (especially with hosts like Gene Burns). Mostly I listened to conservative talk but would also sample the other side.
I did the same with my news reading: mostly conservative with a dose of the other side.
Talk radio taught me the political process both nationally and locally while at the same time, keeping me entertained. I agreed with most of what was being said and on occasion I would even call in and talk to the host.
After the election of 2008, my husband and I began to watch the talk shows on cable, mostly Fox but MSNBC and CNN too. The presidential debates were like sporting events to us; it’s what addicted me to Twitter. As the debate would progress, I could count on immediate feedback with tweets from the various professional commentators and average citizens like myself. And I could “talk back” if I wished.
We looked forward to election night believing our candidate would win. It became clear as the evening wore on that we were wrong. Very wrong. Twitter became painful to follow.
A lot of so-called “experts” had egg on their faces that night.
I was a political junkie. It used to be fun. It is not anymore.
I stopped being a political junkie on November 7, 2012 after the crushing defeat of my candidate. It became clear, like an epiphany, that everybody whose opinion I trusted had been wrong. They were all in their own delusional bubbles and while they believed they were proclaiming the truth, it was in realty smoke and mirrors.
I felt utterly duped. I’d been sucker-punched. Nobody on my side saw it coming. I sure didn’t.
The next morning, I started fasting from politics. I don’t normally listen to Christmas music so early in the season but a wonderful channel on Pandora called “Classic Christmas” got me through the next several weeks as I recovered from being a political junkie.
Talk radio is no longer fun. The content is shrill and vitriolic, polluting my mind with negativity. It is not unlike what is going on in Washington with our leaders, made impotent due to their focus on their own position rather than the urgent needs of this country.
My core conservative beliefs have not changed, nor has my desire to stay informed. But I no longer believe in politics.
It all feels like junk. And nothing made that plainer than the last couple of weeks with the election and installation of Pope Francis.
News junkie and Catholic that I am I downloaded the Pope App on my phone so I could stay informed with the news of the conclave. I was able to watch, on my phone, the announcement of Habemus Papum – we have a pope!
When I found out he was from Argentina, I whooped and hollered and pranced around in my basement office. I had dearly hoped for a pope from either South America or Africa where the Church is vibrant with growth. A new face, a new perspective, a breath of fresh air.
I got my wish. And now I can’t get enough of “Papa Francisco.”
Politicians failed to lead through their empty words. Pope Francis succeeds in leading through his example.
Whereas our political leaders blather endlessly, blaming and destroying each other while the serious problems of our country go unaddressed, Pope Francis seeks to uplift all of God’s Creation as the means for creating a better world.
Whereas our leaders are motivated by their own quest for power, the pontiff seeks to empower all people, especially the least among us: the poor, the handicapped, the disenfranchised. As one of the most powerful leaders in the world, he is doing his best to take the spotlight off of himself and shine it onto his flock.
The image of him stepping out of the pope mobile during the procession to his inaugural mass to kiss, caress and comfort a severely disabled man is unforgettable. He is a pastor, a shepherd. He seeks sincerely to emulate Jesus.
Holy Week will soon be upon us. Typically the Holy Thursday mass is celebrated in grandeur at either St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran. During the mass there is the ceremonial foot washing after the reading of John’s Gospel, chapter 13, verses 1-15: Jesus washes the feet of his disciples to demonstrate how they are to serve one another; the participants are priests and prominent lay people.
Pope Francis, in keeping with his own longstanding tradition, has opted to celebrate Holy Thursday mass at the Casal del Marmo prison for minors, a Rome juvenile detention facility where he will wash the feet of some of the young detainees.
Our political leaders, for the most part, appear take advantage of their powerful positions to better their own lives and to advance their celebrity status.
Pope Francis appears to be using his to advance the positions of the forgotten in our society.
No wonder I can’t get enough of “Papa Francisco!” His name, his actions truly spell hope. I pray I am not being led into a new delusional bubble but if the pontiff continues pointing to Christ, I can be free from delusion.
I am a recovering political junkie. My gaze is now turned towards the Vicar of Christ whose example fixes my eyes squarely on Jesus, the true solution to the desperate problems of our world.
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