Last night I watched the President’s State of the Union address. It was interesting to see who clapped for various plans the President proposed, and who didn’t. One of the things I find most interesting about political players is the way they talk about their plans for the country. It’s very broad and general, and if you’re not educated about politics and don’t know how to read this semi-coded, abstract language, you’re not going to understand what is actually being said at all. I wonder sometimes how many people watch broadcasts like the State of the Union address, and how much by an average American viewer is understood if they do watch. I know so many people who take no interest in politics whatsoever. I hear a lot of young people say they’re not “into” politics, but I wonder if they realize how much their lives are bound up in politics whether they like it or not.
The reason why I question such things is because I can remember being young myself, and claiming to not be a political person. This is a very naive thing to think, really. It’s something, I think, that a person feels about him or herself when they’re unaware of how deeply their own existence is molded by the laws and policies by which they’re surrounded. It’s an especially difficult illusion to recover from in American society, where we raise children on words like freedom, and then provide them with very little actual education of what it truely means to be free.
I can remember when broadcasts like the State of the Union Address were nothing but an interruption from whatever regularly scheduled television show it was I wanted to watch. I don’t watch TV very much at all these days. I haven’t watched TV regularly since I was around twenty-two or twenty-three years old. I gave it up slowly at first, and then it quickly became something I had difficulty finding any interest in. The shows felt, to me, as if they came between me and the world I lived in. I didn’t find them to even be entertaining in a way that would allow me to relax from whatever work I was doing at that time in my life, or now. I like movies a great deal, but television feels ramshackle and meaningless to me. I’ve tried to sit down and watch shows that are talked about a great deal by the people who surround me–my colleagues and co-workers, my friends and family members–and while I can sit through a show here or there, and perhaps be very mildly entertained, I can’t sustain any interest to come back to the show again for another episode. I’d rather watch a movie or read a book, to participate in something self-contained that doesn’t stretch over “seasons”. But if a political address is scheduled for broadcast now, I’m there on the couch with a liter of green tea and snacks, as if I were getting ready to watch a football game with my friends. And sometimes friends do come over, and laugh or scoff at something the President has said, or say things like, “Did you just catch that shot of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? They were totally looking at their watches. What a cold shoulder move!” Or, “Oh my God, look at McCain. He’s sleeping! He’s actually sleeping!”
I’m not sure what direction our country is heading in. America feels far too big, in my opinion, to govern very effectively. I’m glad, though, that I’ve grown into the world as I’ve gotten older, and recognized that we’re all a part of a community, and that it’s actually all of us who are the governors of our country, states, cities, towns and villages. Being aware is something that isn’t taught very much in schools today, but then not very much is being taught in schools today except how to take tests. I can’t see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I hope that, any day now, one will appear.