Opinion: Stop the World—You Need to Get Off

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‘Flag” by Jasper Johns, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1954-55. Image via Wikimedia Commons

By Colleen O'Connor

America needs a retreat.

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Not the kind of retreat that surrenders.

No, Americans need a good old-fashioned, genuine retreat. One where silence is the order. Usually for several days. A quiet examination of conscience demanded, resulting in some kind of personal epiphany.

A shutdown of noise, Twitter, Facebook, squabbling pundits, TV, rap, movies, hideous news, and every other time-waster we have created and amplified.

Pull the plugs. Garage the car. Sleep, if you must. But, STOP the world. You need to get off.

Few can successfully control this modern geostorm. Except the magician, President Donald Trump.

Indeed, one of Trump’s lasting achievements is his non-stop command and control of all that racket.

“Mr. Trump’s greatest trick: His tornado of news-making has scrambled Americans’ grasp of time and memory, producing a sort of sensory overload that can make even seismic events — of his creation or otherwise — disappear from the collective consciousness and public view.”

In short, Americans are losing their grip on reality. And not just Trump’s version of it.

Both major parties, and all those in between, are feuding over a lost reality. A Newtonian nostalgia. These bygone eras are not coming back.

But, this is not a bad thing. Or even a new one. It is just birthing “potential.” As a new interpretation of quantum mechanics explains:

“Considering potential things to be real is not exactly a new idea, as it was a central aspect of the philosophy of Aristotle, 24 centuries ago. An acorn has the potential to become a tree; a tree has the potential to become a wooden table.”

There has always existed a “strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”

In fact, mysteries dissolve if possibilities are included in realities not yet imagined. And sometimes things not imaginable do, after all, turn out to be real.

Enter the need for a retreat where silence can welcome those possibilities.

Physicists, already acknowledge that “spacetime itself is not a primary element of reality.” That opens up an entire cosmos of possibilities.

So what is preventing the imagining of an unimaginably better future? One devoid of “blame and rage,” which leaves Americans  “lonely and untethered. And scared. So damn scared.

As Brené Brown at the University of Houston describes the chaos:

“We’ve sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics and ideology….But rather than coming together,… we’re screaming at one another from farther and farther away…. Rather than pitching wild and innovative new ideas that could potentially change everything, we’re staying….in our bunkers …. and echo chambers.”

And, “that chaos tends to be unscheduled,” according to the New York Times.

So, go on a retreat.

Stop the world and get off: into silence, ideas, and the “potential” no one has yet discovered.

Happy New Year!

Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.

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