Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014 — Desk Jockeying

Social commentary, from when I could stand to confront society.

Bigotry is a luxury of people with so little sense of genuine repression that they have to invent reasons to hate others and, from thin air, fabricate a sense of persecution. Their gripes come not from loss of freedom, but from the loss of freedom to deny others freedom.

If I had 30 seconds on a rooftop to scream something to a massive crowd, it would be this: Everyone thinks they are correct! People don’t actively traffic in ideas they know are wrong. The only thing any of us knows for sure is that we don’t know for sure. You are no more correct than I am, just more certain. So let’s have a nation of practical and secular laws so we can get along, OK?

What are we afraid of? That the money will look silly? It looks silly now! You can mesh 21st-century microtechnology with a 1920s template only so much before it resembles a GPS on a Model T. At some point, you've got to get a new car. The roads are different. And so is the population.

I have been approached in dark parking lots in the middle of the night by young women asking me for directions. Police officers and security guards do not give me a hard time. No one ever thinks, "I won't hire anyone named Ian." No racist white person taunts me from across the street. In general, strangers aren't immediately suspicious of me. Even if I did give off a circumstantially bad impression, there would be at least an inkling of the benefit of the doubt. Basically, I have to earn any suspicion thrown my way — and even then, the threshold is higher than if it were someone with my same hoodie and my same baby face doing the same things, but with darker skin.

That is white privilege.


Trust issue (8/19)
Fighting is an intrinsic part of the American identity. We always need an enemy or, at the very least, someone against whom we can judge ourselves favorably. We like to be No. 1. The greatest country on Earth. Defenders of good, defeaters of evil. We want to believe we’re righteous in democracy, in spirit, in philosophy, in firepower. Hell, we even consider ourselves a First World country, because of course there has to be a ranking. We want leaders to ascribe to this philosophy, granted down from the heavens.

We see this in everything from flags to religions to politics to sports allegiances. We’re primally compelled to pick, and stick to, a side.

Atheism undermines that.

The tragic events in Ferguson have ripped open a lot of wounds, paramount among them racial conflict and the militarization of police. If what my first friend said is true, than Missouri might now be engaging in the brutal, shameful battles that the South once went through. It's an ugly way to open dialogue for something that should have been settled generations ago.

People who disagree with me know they’re wrong. And, in fact, that’s what powers their fervor — the desire to defy that which is correct, i.e., my absolute truth. Sure, they speak of “fairness” and “equality” and “empathy” and “everyone deserving a living wage” and “letting people feel comfortable in their own skin” and “not being bullied or killed just for being who they are,” but it’s all a sham. They want to confuse people by leading them astray from the absolute truth. To force everyone to think a certain way. 

I will not stand for that coming from them.

Say what you want about the supposed influence of big money and big power on elections (and there is much to say about that), but ultimately all those millions and all those favors are done for a single purpose — to attract votes. Because those votes are what allow leaders to assume, and maintain, power.

Many people — most of whom I wouldn't argue with in principle — operate under a notion that if you're not talking at every moment about the gravest ill in society, then you are foolish and part of the problem. That because a person can care only about one thing (apparently), it had better be the Most Important One at all times.

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