They say everybody needs a hobby. If you’ve been hanging around for a bit, you may have realized that I have sort of an odd one. I watch West Wing.
Some of my friends have suggested that it may be more of an addiction than a hobby. They might be right.
For years now, I’ve watched West Wing. A couple of episodes most nights. More when Guy’s Grocery Games is the only thing on Food Network for 12 hours in a row. Lest you miss the magnitude of what I’m saying, this has been going on for years.
I’m not sure how many. Enough to have worn out seven seasons worth of DVD’s. My kids got me Netflix so I could keep watching. I, who was definitely NOT the president of the AV club in high school, actually learned how to make it work, just so I could watch some more.
I have no idea how many times I’ve gone straight from the last episode of season seven to the pilot and around again. I can tell you that I can rattle off much of the dialog faster than the actors can.
Some of my friends have gently inquired as to why.
I don’t really know. Or at least I didn’t. My best answer has always been that it just wasn’t done with me yet.
And then it clicked. I happen to be watching the episodes on the Bartlet re-elect. His opponent was a guy who was an eerie foreshadowing of the new President.
To digress, for a moment…
Somehow, I never took Civics in high school. Then, I took a World Religions elective. American History of the seriously boring persuasion. And, my senior year, an advanced course in Contemporary American History, which somehow was considered to include the legally required senior course charmingly known as Americanism -vs- Communism.
All of which is to say that I didn’t learn much about the workings of the United States.
Enter West Wing. It’s quite the education. Lawmaking. Elections. Supreme Court confirmations. I actually know how those things work. Or how they’re supposed to work. (I’ve double checked!)
And I think, in this moment, that because of all the years of West Wing, I am better prepared to be a capable citizen in a time when we need capable citizens more than we’ve ever needed them before.
I’m ready to work for free and fair elections. For the rights of all Americans. For healthcare and education and dignity. For the planet Earth. Ready to be a fiercly compassionate grandmother for my granddaughters, who are growing up in this world. And all the rest of our kids.
Clearly, we are not going to be handed a platter of education and world peace. And yet, if we believe, we’re going to have to hold onto hope.
I’ve been re-reading Anne Lamott lately. In Plan B… further thoughts on faith, she speaks of her angst over the Bush 43 administration in a way that sounds quite familiar in this moment. I find it comforting.
A reminder that we’ve been in similar territory before and, despite our fear and anger, we have survived. Well, most of us. And part of that survival may just have to do with a whole lot of people speaking out and still trying to be kind. (Which, especially if you’re a woman who was raised in the South, is a very different thing than trying to be nice!)
Come to think of it, lots of the West Wing folks were doing those same things.