Getting Away from the Fray

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Spring’s tentative warmth had barely arrived when Americans became so overheated we could’ve fried eggs on their florid foreheads.

I refer to fallout from the health-care vote and the fevered pitch our country reached just as this magazine went to press.

I’m hardly one to adopt a don’t-worry, be-happy response to social issues, but it seems clear that extreme partisan ugliness is bad for our national health. Studies reveal that those who get their information from cable sources are more likely to have visceral reactions to matters of the day.

I can envision the resulting collective frown sending hard-liners in search of a group rate for Botox injections to ease their glabellar lines. (Probably not a qualified “pre-existing” condition.) A little prevention might also help smooth those furrowed brows. For that, this issue offers a little non-medical advice.

Ride a bike, as our cover photo suggests.

Rise above the fray with a high-rise downtown dinner (page 65).

Talk about the weather. WDIV-TV meteorologist Paul Gross has a new book on the topic (page 29).

Practice self-discipline. Who better exemplifies the benefits of that approach than Olympic athletes (page 33)?

A lack of responsibility and earnest effort spawns all manner of ills. Just look at Detroit’s lingering Kilpatrick mess. Or read the The Glass Castle. The brave Jeannette Walls memoir — currently at the top of my bedside-reading stack — details the havoc that dysfunction can wreak on a family. Dreams, as they say, are just that, unless you act upon them.

Woody Allen famously said that 90 percent of life is just showing up. Fifty percent is more like it, because there’s more to citizenship than just being a beating heart on the landscape.

Which leads to another antidote for what ails us. In our story on the Junior League of Detroit (JLD) Show House (page 56), longtime League member Joan Micou says, “You don’t feel whole if you don’t give back of yourself.” She should know. She’s been a JLD member since 1950. Although she travels the world, she also devotes time to literacy for children and other projects here at home.

Actions such as hers help build common ground. We sorely need a broader swath of mutually friendly turf to offset the current enemy-camp standoff that has insults being lobbed grenade-like across the philosophical gulf. It helps to remember that conservative William F. Buckley and liberal George McGovern were friends. It also helps to interact on an intellectual rather than a gut level.

These days, common ground can feel like a pretty slim spit of land. When you do find a neutral space that’s large enough, stretch out and bask in a little Vitamin-D inducing sunlight. More warmth from Mother Nature and less pundit-induced heat under the collar sounds like a prescription for the general health of our shared human condition.

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