Spent most of the weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a video camera on my shoulder, capturing what the locals hope is finally the arrival of Spring to a region where winter has been unrepentant.
At the barbershop in the town of Floyd, Virginia, population 434, bluegrass musicians jammed on a Friday night — something they have done for years and continue to do so some winter, spring, summer or fall.
They talked about weather, sports and life. They didn’t talk about politics, gun control, gay rights or immigration.
Some expressed a desire to plant crops, prepare livestock for sale, open their seasonal shops and perform a multitude of tasks that will help them survive through the year and — hopefully — enjoy life.
Later, as I sat at the editing console and worked through the videos, I thought about how bogged down we all get in issues that may seem important to specific groups but have little impact on the vast majority of us as we move through and try to cope with life.
I realize that nowadays, at 65 and still recovering for a near-fatal motorcycle crash that damned near killed me five months ago, my focus on what is and is not important has changed.
Yes, I still worry about issues that affect this country but I also wonder how many issues that dominate the news and political debate really have anything to do with our future.
I find my own opinions wavering and changing on issues like gun control but I wonder even more if the future of America would be that much affected one way or another if guns were outlawed or not? The same ambivalence now sets in on other hot-button topics.
I worked inside politics and the federal government long enough to know that — in the end — it doesn’t matter which political party controls Congress or the White House. Our government, by and large, is controlled by a bureaucracy that continues in spite of political or philosophical shifts. Voter attitudes bounce from one extreme to another and the result is an increase is gridlock that is broken only when crisis reaches an inevitable point.
Republicans at this point say the future of their party lies in putting either Rand Paul or Marco Rubio in the White House. In other words, the perceived resolution to the problem caused by the current political novice at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can be resolved by replacing him with another first-term Senator with no real experience.
To borrow an old expression, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
But none of this meant a thing to those I filmed and photographed over the weekend. To them, the priority in life was putting a bothersome winter behind and getting on the with basics of life.
Life goes on and it does so in spite of the actions or pettiness of Democrats, Republicans, independents, gun owners, gays, lesbians, straights, conservatives, liberals, war mongers or peace lovers.
And that’s the way it should be.