Every year the NYTimes has a spread of photos about the year that was. Sunday's was four double pages. Of the photos only perhaps 5 or 6 were not of violence, war, dead bodies, horrible events. The only positive picture that stays in my mind is a wonderful one of Serena Williams winning the open.
When I began taking a poetry class one of the first poems I wrote described reading the morning paper and seeing one violent story after another from wars to causal shootings, and then saying that the world I live in is full of terrible things. After I read the poem in class I receive very few comments (which is not unusual), The one comment that stays with me was from a man who said, "You should stick to reading the sports section." Sports is one section I never read unless it is about tennis tournaments.
I think of that man's comment often. I live largely in a community of retired people. I spent a lot of time with a people who are taking classes in a very fine adult education organization. Some classes are on current events. A very popular one that even meets in the summer when there are no official classes is a sports class. Most classes are on academic, or semi-academic subjects: various aspects of history, French, Latin, great books, short stories, Shakespeare's plays -- really a huge range. But, in fact, very few people read newspapers closely or watch much international news. I do not believe I've heard comments about suicide bombings, very little about the battles of the Arab Spring, etc. We retired older people chose to live in a world apart just as out physical homes are a bit apart (on an island, in fact). Yet, even the sports page readers were shocked and horrified by the bombing at the Boston marathon. But it was not a widely discussed topic, even at the time. We seem to be in a different world, one with protective walls around us.
I suppose all retired people have usually chosen to live like this if they are financially able to do so. We've done our battles with the wider world -- or not, for many as Eliot observed, measure their lives with coffee spoons. We talk about ecological problems in the documentary film class and other larger subjects. Yet I open The Year That Was in the Times and wonder if anyone else knows these things happened and do they feel pain at the endless violence in our world.
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