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My Television News Fasting
Withdrawing from news can create time for new things
by Lauralee Aho
“WE WILL BURY YOU!” was my first exposure to the threat of nuclear annihilation; visions of Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the podium were very scary. It was 1956 and I was eight years old, attending Park Side School in Sebastopol. Although the Soviet leader later said his statement was mis-translated, according to Wikipedia, many Americans interpreted Khrushchev's quote as a real nuclear threat. I didn’t know what to think back then, but since it was on TV, I assumed the message was true. Walter Cronkite and other broadcasters were our truth touchstones.
Fast forward to today. I’m almost 75 years old and live a few blocks from Park Side School. My 26-year-old grandson recently called and talked about building a bomb shelter in his back yard. After much discussion about the logistics of the build, I asked what prompted this idea. He said both China and Russia had “their finger on the button” and that a nuclear onslaught was inevitable--and not in the vague future, but soon. I asked what brought him to this conclusion, and he said, “It’s all over the news and the web.”
I had not heard this news, as for more than a year ago I chose not to listen to any television news programs. Although I miss some important information, the fact that I’m exempt from hearing all the political nonsense, and various unbelievably ridiculous news output, this “news fasting” of sorts has helped me to focus on my own community and my own peace of mind. No more onslaught of what might or might not be accurate. We live in a age of really not knowing what is real or false. The phrase “truthiness” from Stephen Colbert comes to mind.
My escape from most of television (except for Jeopardy, of course) has allowed me to focus on art projects; I read a lot more; I take walks around the Luther Burbank grounds; I joyfully volunteer in my large elder community.
I never looked at this action as “fasting” per se, but after reading the article on fasting in the Sebastopol Times, I have a different attitude. Putting this fasting into action, I have joined the Sonoma County Tenants Union to confront tenant inequities in general, but closer to home: Burbank Heights and Orchards. We’ve got some work to do here.
Since I’ve withdrawn from the drama of TV news, I feel that my life is less stressful. I am content in my elder years, willing to focus only on what’s important in my immediate world. Am I an ostrich with my head in the sand? If so, a happy one.
Lauralee Aho was born in Palm Drive Hospital and she’s lived her life entirely in Sebastopol. Her whole career was spent with Hewlett-Packard, starting as an electronic assembler, moving to engineering assistant, and ending as a transfer specialist when HP/Agilent chose to transfer manufacturing to Malaysia. She has two daughters, Donica and Richelle Hopkins, and a grandson, Vaughn Higginbotham. Lauralee has been a Burbank Heights and Orchards resident since 2010.
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