On any given day, at any given time, on any given news channel, viewers experience an ample serving of our new national pastime: outrage. Furthermore, it’s evidently not enough to fill the screen with just one sermonizing head. News networks, clearly inspired by the Brady Bunch grid, held a meeting and decided to go with three or four. But instead of a smiling family, news networks greet America and the world with fuming pundits shouting over each other.
Amicable and measured speech apparently left with Tim Russert, Tony Snow and now Charles Krauthammer—when they departed this earth. Instead we’re left with all too many Matt Foley, motivational speaker types, “…hidden away in the basement drinking coffee for four hours,” and then unleashed upon the news-viewing public. Fostering passionate speech remains a worthy goal. But rage, angst and vitriol seem exhausting. We all get angry, and we all feel deeply about things, but honestly, how do these people daily maintain this?
There’s nothing like caring for a disabled loved one for a couple of decades to tamp down the incessant need to be pissed off all the time. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe these people yelling at each other and the camera don’t carry enough challenges in their lives. Otherwise, how do they daily summon the energy to rant?
Dealing with a developmentally disabled child who repeatedly screams through the night, or a spouse facing her 80th surgery, or a mentally-ill family member cursing and striking you, or a father with dementia who seems to have bowel movements in every room except the restroom—leaves little energy to get mad at what political figures or late-night talk show hosts do or say. If we’re able to sit down in front of the TV, most of us nod off from exhaustion faster than a press secretary can be thrown out of a liberal restaurant.
Speaking of which, while the “Little Red Hen” pecked off half the country, no one bothered to run a story on single moms leaving a restaurant in tears with behaviorally challenged special-needs children. In addition, no one shows a grid of heads yelling about traumatic brain injuries, strokes, amputations or a host of other afflictions that affect more families than Stormy Daniels.
If those and other issues happen to get airtime, a clicking tongue and sad expression from the hosts give a moment’s sentiment, and then all return to the outrage du jour.
Caregivers vote, buy products and care about our country. We’re just too tired however, to compete with the voices berating us about what we should rage at today.
While hard to specify, there exists a certain number of hours one logs in the emergency room that helps put political acrimony in perspective. In addition, a dollar amount generated by the number of medical bills one receives …eventually eclipses one’s desire to argue with those possessing affordable and unused health care coverage.
As a vast number of Americans trudge through the days with quickly graying hair and shoulders bent with strain, the rest of the country would be well served to pay attention. Caregiving is an equal opportunity offender. From the rich and powerful to the meek and lowly, we all will either be one—or need one. Furthermore, it’s not a short-term experience.
So, for all the rage-fueled tweeters, commentators and marchers who are wearing genitalia on their heads, save your strength! There’s a storm coming. A big storm. A “Silver Tsunami” of aging baby-boomers needing care. A family member who just received a difficult diagnosis. A child born with special needs. A loved one recovering from a traumatic event. The scenarios are endless, but the resources are not.
Peter Rosenberger is a 30-year caregiver for his wife Gracie, who lives with severe physical disabilities. He is the author of Hope for the Caregiver and his radio show for family caregivers is syndicated on more than 200 stations across the country. @hope4caregiver