Right Involvement

This blog entry isn’t about woodworking. I want to keep up an intent to post at least weekly, and the last night of a weekend has become my time to write. Tonight I find myself thinking of events playing out on the national and world stage.

A couple of weeks ago we came back from Maui and I was struck by how restful it felt to “unplug” from the news and e-mail. Right when we’d departed for Maui it was clear that something significant was brewing in Egypt – by the time we returned it was in full revolution. Now we see unrest in other countries, and there is a showdown between the governor of Wisconsin (and his multi-billionaire backers the Koch brothers) and the public employee unions.  Oh, and the Republican majority in congress just voted to defund Planned Parenthood, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and a slew of other organizations they politically oppose.

So I sign the appropriate petitions, write notes to my senators and representatives, even make sure I’m current on my donations to the right organizations.  But I don’t get on a plane to stand with the Wisconsin marchers.  I don’t drain my savings and give it all to political advocacy groups. In fact, now the pendulum for me is starting to swing in the other direction – I don’t even want to read the news any more. I feel like there is nothing I can do to alter the outcome, so why allow myself to be repeatedly enraged every time I pick up the newspaper?

And yet… somehow it feels important to bear witness to these events. The people in the streets in Cairo and Madison are counting on the fact that others are watching and holding the powerful accountable. If the rest of us shrug our shoulders and ignore the conflict, the powerful win.

So what is the right balance? I don’t have the answers. Right now “bearing witness” feels right, and I’m trying to do this without diving into the hyper-partisan media sources who (for good reason) are trying to inflame the passions of the readers. Anybody reading this: any thoughts on the matter?

Quick woodworking update: I’m working on what I think will be my last segmented bowl for a while. While the product is pretty, I don’t enjoy the construction/shaping process nearly as much as working from a solid block of wood, so I think I’m going to go back to fancy pens and solid wood turnings after this project.


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