Every Thursday, I listen to an endearing podcast produced by the New York Public Library titled, “The Librarian Is In.” The hosts, Gwen and Frank, discuss book recommendations and culture throughout each episode and politics often play into the discussions. A few weeks ago, the pair acknowledged that their tendency to bring up politics could negate the podcast’s function for some listeners as a release and escape from the innate tension of politics.
At a social-justice-oriented Jesuit institution such as Creighton, we, too, experience a permeation of political and cultural issues in our classrooms and community. The constant 24-hour news cycle, fused with the significance placed on political activism, encourages keeping up with the political arena, which is not inherently negative.
So when is it time to rest from politics and its ensuing passions? Did St. Ignatius rest? Should we?
Of course he did. We do need breaks from political mindfulness just as much as we need from physical exertion. While news never sleeps, we must.
Striking the balance of diligence and retreat regarding politics proves exhausting, especially during poignant times such as the midterm elections. While I receive helpful but often incessant news alerts from various apps on my phone, I concentrate on reading morning newsletters each day to stay informed, allowing myself to check the alerts throughout the day without diving deep into the story, with exceptions, of course. My newsletters of choice include The Skimm, which focuses on breaking world and U.S. news, and the Morning Brew, which relays events through an economic and financial lens. Many online news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times also have newsletters that you can receive via email, both of which online subscriptions are available through Creighton’s library system. By reading these newsletters in the morning, I feel equipped to think and talk about the issues as they arise during the day, while also confining the time I spend conducting in-depth searches on various topics.
Taking breaks from the whirlwind of news is not selfish or indicative of one’s conscientiousness of current events. If anything, allotting my mind time away from politics allows me to think and speak in more eloquent and critical ways. Yes, sometimes I become frustrated when my lighthearted podcast about books takes me away from my break and into a political discussion. Perhaps this casual insertion of politics will actually release the tension I often associate with current events. If St. Ignatius, a man who served at the forefront for social change in his time rested, so can I.