It’s the season of division. I’ve been here before and each time I arrive weary and bedraggled. With only a few weeks until the election, we have parsed and dissected every issue and idea, every offhand remark, every canned refrain. There’s not much left to examine, and so the tone turns divisive and ugly. And I turn inward.
I’ve reached the point in which I can no longer discuss the candidates. Not with friends. Not with family. Not even with the young writers I mentor, many who are voting for the first time.
The other night, during the weekly gathering of the Young Writers Group, I inadvertently entered the political waters. It was a jolt and a disappointment.
It began when one teen — not yet voting age — proudly showed me her Obama button. The girl standing next to her — also not yet voting age — showed her displeasure with a sneer and a sigh.
The three teens in our group who can vote, when pressed for their opinions, said they wouldn’t. They didn’t care. Politics didn’t matter. They didn’t know who to pick.
“I guess I’ll just talk to my friends and see who they want me to vote for,” said one young woman.
“Oh, I don’t really like politics and that kind of thing,” shrugged a young man.
I entered, then, with a bellow.
“Do you like to breathe clean air?” I asked. “Do you like to come here for the Young Writers Group? Because these things in your life are affected by politics. Decisions are made on your behalf. Funding for this organization, for schools, for parks, for this city. These things are decided by elected officials that you can put in place.”
The subject quickly turned, as it often does with a roomful of teens, and we reclaimed our normal — and less volatile — routine of writing and laughter.
My friend Auburn McCanta, who writes for the HuffingtonPost, recently penned a piece that touches on the inability to reach those we love. Its sentiment echoes what I experience with many of the teens I know whose minds and opinions are so young, yet so fixed.
In these last days of the election season, I won’t change your vote. You won’t change mine. I will not spar as sport. I will not debate in passing. There’s no apathy in my silence. It is simply fatigue.