Forget the looming recession, trade war, mass shootings, global threats, endangered species, Greenland real estate, Argentina’s default, or the “hard Brexit.”
Rather, focus on the more pleasant, oddball, and sometimes positive alternatives.
For a pleasant interlude, watch “Love Among the Ruins,” a made-for-TV movie staring Katherine Hepburn, whose character tries to “survive the last bitter taste of calamity.” It’s a lesson for today.
Set in Edwardian England, and available on YouTube, the film racked up eight Prime-time Emmy wins and a Peabody Award for excellence.
Featuring two of the greatest of the great actors—Hepburn and Sir Laurence Olivier—this romantic comedy aired exactly one year after the scandals of the Richard Nixon presidency and his subsequent resignation.
It helped divert attention from what Nixon was doing as the country reeled from the Vietnam war, the Watergate scandal and publication of the Pentagon Papers.
Nixon slept little, became increasingly paranoid about his “enemies” and carried on rambling conversations (via phone, not Twitter), and listened to his own speeches over and over.
According to one aide, “the President was up walking the halls last night, talking to pictures of former Presidents — giving speeches and talking to the pictures on the wall.”
If the “pleasant” movie doesn’t help, try the odd Mooch vs. Trump smackdown dominating Twitter and television news.
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted just 11 days in that post, has finally turned against his former friend, spewing insults that even rival the President’s.
Why is he taking on his former boss? The Mooch’s logic: “OK, the guy’s unstable, everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it.”
He’s calling for consideration of the 25th Amendment’s provision for removing a President from office due to an “inability to discharge the powers and duties of said office.”
The Mooch argues that Trump is showing “signs of a meltdown,” “is off his rocker,” and in need of an intervention. And he insists that Trump will resign just like Nixon.
Trump returns the Mooch’s tweetstorms with even nastier squalls—insisting that his former aide is “unstable,” “grossly incompetent,” and “a nut job [I] barely knew.”
“He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy,” complains the commander-in-chief.
Trump has even turned against his conservative media favorite—Fox News.
It won’t stop here (unless Trump moves to Greenland), but you can choose to focus instead on inspiring news. For example, take a look at the Hong Kong protests—now in their 11th week.
Thousands upon thousands are defying the massive power of mainland China trying to take back their sovereignty.
These courageous souls have shut down airports, closed the city’s financial center, stayed resolute in pouring rain, and refused to stop—despite China massing troops on the border.
Look at the crowd photos—larger than any Trump rally—yet he shows no support for their defense of democracy.
Contrast that with New Zealand’s prime minister and parliament.
In the aftermath of a white supremacist’s mass shootings that left 50 dead and 50 wounded, parliament voted—in just weeks—to ban all military-style guns and require mandatory gun buy-backs. The vote tally was 119 to 1.
Other positives that bring joy: the winning U.S. women’s national soccer team; the triple-twisting, double-back somersault of gymnast Simone Biles; NASA’s latest discoveries; and your favorite local band.
It may feel like the country is in shambles, but it is still possible to find “love among the ruins.”
Keep the faith. If you don’t, no one will.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.