I went to a friend’s church on Sunday, and the song leader played “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. It was simultaneously a perfect and stunning choice. I immediately started jamming my Spotify algorithm with searches for “Vietnam era,” repeat plays of “Eve of Destruction” and requests for “hits of 1968.”

You might think I was alive in the late 60s. I was not.

I am just consumed by the news, and comparisons between this time and another historic year, even one as tumultuous as 1968, can be comforting. Searching for a soundtrack for the chaos is an attempt to give it rhythm and rhyme, pattern and predictability — or at least some kind of container.

I realized how completely absorbed I had become by politics and world affairs when I started listening to the playlist “1968 - Billboard Top 100 songs.” I was looking for songs to contextualize political unrest, but the top song of 1968 was “Hey Jude” by The Beatles.

Maybe you know the story behind the song. John Lennon had just left his wife Cynthia for Yoko Ono. Paul McCartney went to visit Cynthia and five-year-old Julian Lennon, and the tune came to him as he was driving away from them and worrying about how the divorce would affect the young boy.

Personal lives don’t take a break when the world is burning. Friends still need visiting, wounds still need tending, and children still need to be told it’s going to be ok.

There has to be a give-and-take between the political and the personal.

That playlist helped me regain some perspective. Even if we are on the eve of destruction, we need comfort and engagement, contemplation and action, McCartney and Lennon, “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” (#78 that year).

Our article “How to Practice Democracy in Response to the News” has suggestions for expanding awareness, staying calm, and seeking guidance when you take in distressing news. The practices provide grounding and meaning-making to help before, during, and after you tune in the radio or TV, scroll through your social media feed, or unfold the morning paper.

  • See more Spiritual Resources for the U.S. Election Year.
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