For the last 20-odd years, my jobs have pretty much entirely revolved around, in two words, “the news.” For the last eight years, I’ve written 150 (give or take) op-eds per year here at the Garrison Center. The basis for any good opinion column is its “news hook” — what’s going on in the world, what I think about it, and what I hope to convince YOU to think about it.
I love the job, and I hope you enjoy the columns. I’ve also (among other things) cleaned toilets for a living. I didn’t like doing that as much as I like doing this. But there’s one way in which janitorial work is more enjoyable than news work:
Once I put away my scrub brushes and mops and so forth, clocked out, and went home, I didn’t spend all evening continuing to think about toilets.
Jesus’ disciples may not have been opinion journalists, but I can’t help thinking that he laid out my job description as he addressed them in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
That, friends, is my beat. And haven’t we had quite a year of it? 2022 has proven itself chock-full of everything he predicted, with hurricanes, mass shootings, and toxic politics to boot.
It’s enough to keep one up nights.
My family celebrates Christmas. Yours may celebrate other winter holidays with different roots and stories. But all of those holidays, I think, express in common the desire celebrated by the angels in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke:
“On earth peace, good will toward men.”
What do I want for Christmas this year? One day with no news.
Well, maybe not NO news, but at least no BAD news.
I’m fine with stories about the cute mutt who finally got adopted, the little girl whose cancer miraculously went into remission, and the teens who helped their elderly neighbor carry her groceries. A one-day hold on this “wars and rumours” of wars business.
One day, just one day, with nothing on my mind to keep me from drifting off that night, sleeping hard ALL night, and hitting snooze two or three times without a care in the world.
I guess that would put me out of work for a day or two. But I’ll always have my toilet-cleaning expertise to fall back on, right?
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.