The political climate in America seems to be in a constant state of stress. Between elections the cacophony of noise dies down only a little as new issues are brought to the forefront of public attention. News is often negative, because historically, we don’t report on what’s going right with the world!
It is beneficial to us, as Christians living in a fallen world, to be current on the state of our nation. We should be engaged citizens, aware of our rights, voting according to our values and fulfilling the duties we have as citizens. This responsibility means we do need to keep up, at least a little, with what’s going on in our nation. How do we stay current on politics without becoming angry, depressed or apathetic?
I wondered this myself following the last few elections in which I’ve voted. I want to be educated, but I don’t want to spend all my time educating myself, and I certainly don’t want to get sucked into the cruel world of political social media. Following are a few things I’ve implemented to help me balance awareness with grace.
Instead of Watching the News, Listen to Podcasts
Something about watching the news, or having it play in the background, is stressful to me. There’s always someone being overtalked, and unless I switch around to a few different channels I don’t feel as if I’m getting a holistic view. Instead, I listen to news podcasts. These are shorter and give a great summary, and there are more perspectives to be had. As I’ll talk about later, I listen to several points of view. My current listens are:
- The Daily by The New York Times
- WSJ Politics
- The Briefing with Albert Mohler (a Christian perspective on news)
- The World and Everything In It (a Christian-perspective world magazine)
Instead of Scanning Social Media, Read a Newspaper
Another stressor for me is Facebook. The comments on a political Facebook post can be simply awful. Seeing these posts streaming urgently through my news feed is not life-giving, and the comments distract me from forming an objective opinion. Rather than engage with these, I like to get a newspaper once a week and catch up on the world’s events. Newspapers make it much easier to process the information independently.
Set Aside a Time to Update Yourself
Set aside time to listen to the podcasts or read the newspaper. This is beneficial—by choosing a time when you update yourself on news, you’re being intentional. But you’re also saying “thus far and no farther” to the insidious way politics can sneak into an otherwise positive moment. If I find myself especially distracted by posts in my news feed, I’ll stay off of social media for a few days.
Subscribe to an Email List with News Summaries
An example of this is The Skimm, an email designed for young women who want to stay up on the news. While it does have an obvious bias, it’s a good starting point for what’s happening each day. You can take the update and go deeper on the topics that interest you.
Read Both Sides
While I, too, have a personal bias (we all do!), I do my best to read the other side of most major news stories. How did the opposition to my view arrive at their conclusion? Could I perhaps have a skewed perspective? Have I only been listening to people who share my view? Asking these questions helps me refine what I believe about certain issues instead of simply parroting what someone I love has said.
How do you stay current on politics and stay gracious at the same time?