if you’re breathing and you live in the united states you’ve been hearing alot about ohio these past few weeks.
i had the distinct honor of visiting one small part of the state a year ago and i can see what all the attention is about. i ate one of the best indian meals i’ve ever tasted in a locally owned restaurant and found incredibly unique teas at another. i marveled at an intersection in one small town which housed a jewish synagogue, a greek orthodox church, and a christian college. a few blocks away sat a muslim mosque. all were stunningly beautiful, each in its own way. the people i encountered were friendly and warm, smart and broad minded. i can see why ohio would be all the rage. it’s a really wonderful place.
the reality is, however, that it’s currently on the map because of its significance in the upcoming election. if the media was all you attended to you’d never know that there were indian restaurants or exotic teas or vibrant faith communities or smart people in ohio. you’d think there were only electoral college votes. this makes me sad.
so often, these days, we settle for 140 character summaries of “news.” we feel uber-connected to current events yet our knowledge of them is sentence deep. “super storm shuts down northeast,” “new poll puts candidate x in the lead,” “negotiations between teachers union and district fail,” “honey boo boo endorses candidate y.” with the sheer number of updates we receive in a day we feel caught up and yet often know very little about what’s really going on. further, what we do know is likely biased by the shape of the social and digital networks we’ve created.
just as the less experienced internet user forwards every warning they receive to everyone in their inbox, we mindlessly forward and “like” and repost and retweet without much thought for considering the content. in so doing we reduce the complicated realities of life (and politics and religion and weather and relationships and, well, everything) to trite digestible sound bytes.
it’s as if we’re becoming increasingly comfortable eating meal replacement bars instead of preparing a balanced breakfast. such bars are convenient and filling and even have some nutrients but they pale in comparison to the taste, experience, and nutritional value of a thoughtfully created meal or the complication presented in having to make sure that there is balance in one’s diet. you may love chocolate chip protein bars but that doesn’t mean that a constant stream of them is optimal for your health and well being.
it’s the same with current events. it’s the same with life. there are things i like. there are things i agree with. things that are easy for me to chuckle at or “amen” in response to, to understand and to comprehend. these are things that are easy for me to promote. there are also difficult things, complex things that i want to be hearty enough to welcome. things like my neighbor’s differing view points, my fellow country member’s divergent and complex needs, the preferences of those that tick me off. these are the reasons i want not to be content with short updates and news from only sources i, in my certainty, “condone” as worthy.
i want, for myself, to become less and less content being sure of everything related to politics. i want to be open to complexity and to respectfully listen to those whose opinions and preferences i don’t share. i want to take the medias word for less and less and rely on the tried and true methods of inquiry and research and deep exploration to find sturdy places to land ideologically, practically, and realistically.
and so, ohio, i honor you. not because i want to shape you or mold you or convince you to vote like i want you to but, rather, because we share space in this world and you matter in it as much as i.