I just got back from a weeklong vacation. And, I’m happy to say, I feel much better.

The monotony of daily life – eating the same food, working the same job, seeing the same scenery and basically doing the same things day after day – gets old. Taking a break from it all was refreshing. A vacation lets you see other ways of life and restores your energy level as well as a proper perspective.

It wasn’t a relaxing vacation by any means. We visited my brother’s two kids at a college in Montana and toured nearby Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks. There was no time for lounging because there was simply too much beauty to be enjoyed. The Great American West is a big and wondrous place.

This vacation – thankfully – coincided with the opening scenes of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. I caught some of the theatrics at night on hotel TVs but for the most part was blissfully ignorant of the roiling and boiling underway in Washington, D.C. (There was roiling and boiling on my vacation, too, made possible by Yellowstone’s volcanic landscape.)

One of the best parts of the vacation, in retrospect, was taking a break from the news. No matter your political persuasion, the news is getting monotonously negative and grinding us down. Liberals think Trump is the end of America as we know it, while conservatives think the Socialist/leftist takeover of the Democrat Party is.

Just as I needed a break from my daily life to restore proper perspective, it took time away to see the political news for what it really is: ridiculous and cleaving our social fabric, all to garner votes in 2020.

Under Trump, the news has become more biased, with conservative news outlets emphasizing one narrative and liberal outlets emphasizing another. When bias dominates, truth suffers. What we need now is a media source that gives us unbiased news, and I can’t think of one.

Our politicians are prejudiced and biased, too. Democrats have been playing the political equivalent of the old playground game King of the Hill with Trump since he took office. They ascend the hill with one attack after another, getting beaten back by Trump each time. Sides are unwilling to compromise and set a terrible example for the citizenry, which, too, is being cleaved.

It’s all so sad. It’s as if we’ve caught a political fever and no one can think straight enough to realize they’re sick.

So what can we do to fix our political doom and gloom? Here are a few ideas:

• However you see today’s politics, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to life. The upcoming holiday season should help us remember this. Visits to beautiful outdoor places help us realize this. Going to church helps us realize this. Spending time with family helps us realize this.

• America is best when we agree to disagree. Humility and a desire to understand the other side are noble goals.

• American politics, though uncomfortable right now, isn’t broken. Hong Kong protesters hold up our flag because we still represent freedom.

• Speaking of freedom, Americans of all political stripes agree on many foundational principles – life, liberty and pursuit of happiness among them.

• All Americans want the best for their country. This is important to remember when debating someone of the opposite political persuasion. They don’t have bad intentions.

• Finally, you can always trust the American people to do the right thing eventually, as Winston Churchill famously said.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

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