Waiting for the next shoe

[“Peace and Justice Files” columnist Skip Mendler fled the United States on January 19, and has spent the last couple of months volunteering with a small refugee assistance group in Serbia.]

My time in Serbia is just about up. By the time you read these words, I will be in Tuzla, Bosnia, getting ready to go back to Germany and resume some creative projects I was working on there. My experience here has been wonderful, traumatic, eye-opening and heartbreaking. I hope I get a chance to return, or maybe even proceed further “upriver,” tracing the refugees’ path farther back, into Greece, Romania, or maybe even Turkey.

But in the meantime… can I get something off my chest?

Remember Orwell’s “1984”? You may recall how the omnipresent “telescreens” would periodically blare out news of some victory or other, followed by a breathless pronouncement along the lines of, “This brings the war within measurable distance of its end!”

(If you haven’t read “1984” yet, please stop what you are doing now and go read it. You will understand what is happening now much better. Trust me on this.)

Well, all these little leaks and suggestions and rumors and possibilities that keep showing up in my newsfeeds these days are starting to sound very much like Orwell’s tantalizing telescreen, except now the message is more like “The end of the Trump Nightmare is in sight!” Indictments and impeachment resolutions are just around the corner! Mueller is about to make an earth-shattering announcement!

It’s driving me nuts, I tell you.

It’s not surprising, of course. There is probably nothing, not even the final season of “Game of Thrones,” that engenders greater feelings of anticipation than the idea of Trump and his crew being cast out of power. And so of course anything that suggests the coming breaking of dawn will garner retweets and sharings.

But this anticipation is itself dangerous. It can distract us from continuing to apply the necessary daily pressure on our elected officials. It can give us a sense of false hope that, when let down often enough, exhausts us and leads to frustration and despair. And it can be used as bait.

At the same time, we are held in thrall by similarly phrased intimations of apocalypse from a dozen different directions. When will the other shoe drop, and where? North Korea? Iran? Venezuela? All three at once?

So I am trying my best to ignore the “Sources say…” and “According to some…” stories. I am trying to focus on the immediate tragedies and successes in whose reality I can have some confidence.

Until I see the full-page photo of Donald Trump being led out of the White House in handcuffs.

Then I might start thinking more seriously about return tickets.

 

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