I'll definitely admit that I'm not hooked into a ton of media. It's a shortcoming, but I try to remember that while I'm forming my opinions. Sometimes that even works. Mostly, it just keeps me from getting too overwhelmed by events beyond my control, lets me focus on the things I can do to make my corner of the world, including myself, a little better.

Digressions aside, I also realize it's a trade-off. My peace of mind over some bit of information that could make sense of the stand-off that's happening in Washington, D.C. as I type.

By the time you read this, the decision will be made. We'll know if our elected officials were able to compromise to provide the best solutions for our country, or if they ended in stalemate.

But here and now, sitting on the cusp of that decision, it looks like the only thing at stake is our social safety net. The only things we risk are the things that make us strongest, and that solidify our national foundation -- education and supports for the less privileged.

I could repeat the infographics and blurbs that talk about various minimum wage laws and health care coverage statistics. I could echo the cartoons that poke fun at religious conservatives who argue against sheltering the poor. Those things have already been done by people both wittier and with better artistic skills than I.

Instead, I'll tell you about the storm that happened here in Portland, Oregon over the weekend. I'll tell you about isolated power outages scattered over the city, leaving people without lights or heat for hours, shutting down homes and movie theaters and traffic lights with impunity. Some schools lost power over the weekend, only to discover the fact when the staff arrived to open for the day. At least one that I know of didn't get power back until nearly the end of the day, but still kept the students in class. My understanding is that, as hard as it was, everyone did remarkably well and learning ensued. I count it a win, even while I wonder whether different demographics might have meant an emergency closing or a quicker resolution.

Regardless, every outage was an act of nature, as far as I can tell. They happen. We weather them, and for the most part we come out okay. What's important is how we come together to weather the storm.

I guess that's my feeling about the impending shutdown. Government shutdowns happen. They're a feature. They were built into our system of governance for a reason and they serve a purpose.

Which isn't to say that they don't cause difficulties. Nor do I want to minimize those challenges for the people most impacted. A lot of them are the same people who suffer when we cut our safety net. And the employees and military service folk who will be going without pay deserve better.

But I still think that what's important is what we do with it. Will we work to lift people up, to create opportunity, and to support the dignity of humanity at large? (Yes, it sounds grandiose. It kind of is. Blame my tendencies toward epic fantasy. But the question stands.)

I don't know the answer, but I hope like crazy that it's yes.