Passions and politics. They’re not always the same thing for me. Hell, are they always the same thing for anybody? I might ask who really LIKES politics, but I’m afraid there would be an answer, many times over, even with people I admire greatly.
I always fancied myself a bit of a Renaissance man. I am not, of course. I might admire Arthur Chu, a recent Jeopardy contestant who won 11 games at just shy of $300,000. I thought he was very intelligent, and I do admire him. Meanwhile, I doubt I’d even be able to pass the first online test. I’m rather horrid at history and geography, and even worse at historical geography, and don’t even get me started on how bad I am with sports trivia! I know who starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and who sang “Sharp Dressed Man,” and being a science fiction fan, I even know a bit about astronomy and science, but I’m no Arthur Chu!
To go along with this "Renaissance man" image, I’ve been writing in a journal for over two decades, and I’ve shared some of it in a blog now for over two years, and sometimes it feels like I'm writing a magazine spread. Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm in the wrong profession. When I write about family, which I rarely share in my blog, I see myself as a genealogical archivist and a bit of an insightful documentarian. When I write in my journal about my job, which I NEVER share in my blog, for obvious reasons, I see myself as a bit of a business analyst and armchair psychologist. When I write about religion, which I actually like sharing in my blog, I am a conservative Christian, a theist and an apologist. When I write about news and culture, I see myself as more of a political commentator than I am a news journalist, though I actually don’t keep up on the news like I should, and how can I form an opinion about any of it if I am not informed? I’d wind up like all the people on those 24 hour news channels when that Malaysia flight went missing for so long, filling up their newscasts with dozens, if not hundreds, of commentators and theorists and guest guess makers, most of them flat out wrong. When I write about pop culture – movies, TV shows, music, books, and celebrities – and which I LOVE to do, I see myself as a reviewer, or an art or literary critic, or a pop psychologist, even though I am none of these things.
And I get confused by all of it, for it can get confusing. Everyone has an opinion. What makes me think mine is more valid than theirs? And yet a person has to make a stand. As John Mellencamp, he of the impossibly high forehead, once said in song, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” Yeah, I know; he’s not the origin of that statement, but origin doesn’t really matter as much as the statement itself. We all have to make a stand for something. My problem is that I’ve been trying to give validity to everyone’s beliefs and trying to reconcile their impassioned beliefs with my own, and this doesn’t always work. I can’t necessarily make sense of another person’s beliefs and the things they stand for if I see the world differently than they do, and make a different stand. This will mean that sometimes, their stand and beliefs won’t hold any validity for me, and that’s okay. For one thing, one of my beliefs is that truth is not relative, and since truth is not relative, both my beliefs and their beliefs cannot both be true.
And then there’s my love of the arts; not really the fine arts, although I can enjoy some ancient paintings and classical music. Rather, I tend to enjoy modern cinematic arts, or musical and literary arts. I have a tendency to feel guilty about it, and I really do watch too much TV, and I sometimes wonder if it's okay to have a passion for such things, especially in the face of the leftist bias so prevalent in the publishing world, popular music, Hollyweird, the educational community, and politics? Shouldn’t I be writing instead about what’s going on out in the real world? Shouldn’t I be writing about the Republican frontrunners for the upcoming elections, or some of the current politicians who are ruining this country, such as the President and Charles Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John McCain? Aren’t they more important and worthy of more thought than the latest episode of Bates Motel or Scotty McCreery’s newest CD, especially with all that’s going on in the world and their dictatorial buffoonery? How can I defend my penchant for writing movie reviews in the face of politics? In the grand scheme of life, politics trumps art. I’ve always known this. And yet I all too often seem to go with art, and then apologize for it. But can a man help, really, having the passions he has?
Then I cracked open the book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics by famed conservative political commentator and journalist Charles Krauthammer, and I’m so glad I did! On the very first page, he starts asking what matters, and comes up with quite a list – and politics isn’t among them. “…what really matters,” he states on page two, “what moves the spirit, what elevates the mind, what fires the imagination, what makes us fully human are all of these endeavors, disciplines, confusions, and amusements that lie outside politics.” Then he said the book was not going to include politics, and it was going to be titled There’s More to Life than Politics. “But in the end, I couldn’t,” he writes. “For a simple reason, the same reason I left psychiatry for journalism. While science, medicine, art, poetry, architecture, chess, space, sports, number theory and all things hard and beautiful promise purity, elegance, and sometimes even transcendence, they are fundamentally subordinate. In the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics.” Here’s a journalist and political commentator admitting to having non-political passions, and desiring to write about them to the exclusion of his “bread and butter”, but in the end, he cannot do it, not because politics are necessarily where anyone’s passions truly lie, but because politics are necessary, and quite often a necessary evil, that rules and dictates everything else.
I’m sure some political commentators, such as Ann Coulter and Matt Walsh, or actual politicians, thrive on genuine politics. Even Charles Krauthammer, who attempted at first to dismiss politics for just one book, is deeply embroiled in it all. It’s the way he’s wired to think, and reading further into his book, this becomes obvious. For him, not only is politics a necessary entity that must be dealt with, his writing is filled with insightful ruminations on politics throughout history. Perhaps he doesn’t even realize how much he thinks in politics. But not I. I discuss politics only where I feel it is absolutely necessary, and where it aligns or conflicts with my own personal beliefs, but I don’t really enjoy getting into politics the way some people do, and my journals and blog reflect that. I know it's extremely important and very necessary to stay abreast of what is going on and to stay informed and have an opinion about politics, but it's not really a passion of mine.
I will enjoy reading this Charles Krauthammer book because I look up to the guy and I like his writing style, though I do find him to be a bit smarter than I am (which is weird, because he states in his introduction that he does not classify himself in the genius category, and it's one reason he decided against a career in theoretical physics). For now, I’m just very appreciative that he was able to take some of my jumbled thoughts about my passion for things other than politics, and my guilt over having these passions and writing about them in the face of my beliefs and the current political landscape, and he gives voice to these issues in the very first page of his book. Translation: He’s made politics his career, yet he likes other things too. And if those other things for him are purely an intellectual admiration for brilliant and compassionate mathematicians, architecture, baseball, and medicine, while mine tend to center on the more trivial realms of pop culture, with a healthy dose of guys like Krauthammer thrown into the mix on occasion, then so be it. I am not Marco Rubio, or Matt Walsh, or Sean Hannity, or Charles Krauthammer for that matter, much as I might admire some of these guys. Nor was I meant to be. I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be, courtesy of God. And the really neat thing is, that's okay too! I am the man God designed me to be, and I don't have to be anybody else. This is MY niche (my little corner of the internet, as it says in this blog's description).
Charles Krauthammer was going to write about all the non-political things he loves, but that darned politics kept getting in the way again! It shows just how very unavoidable and important politics are (and they truly are), but also how annoying and infuriatingly intrusive they can be!