Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Good Ones

I thought you were one of the good ones.

I first noticed you some time ago, when you were already Somebody to my Nobody. Maybe your books helped me through a hard time. Maybe your show was a light when I needed one. Maybe your humor kept me going when nothing else did. Maybe your art opened a window to the world I'd never seen.

You seemed like one of the good ones.

In interviews, you laughed and smiled. You spoke passionately about your causes. You spoke up for colleagues and co-workers, perhaps, or called out an injustice. You were engaging, charismatic, clever. Even though I know, as we all do somewhere inside, that what is seen is not all there is, that there are always masks for every face and shadows for every light, I believed enough of what I saw to think of you as one of the good ones.

As others were outed, as the shark teeth behind the smiles were bared, I still thought you were one of the good ones.

Then the voices, the quiet voices, grew louder. Voices speaking of stalking footsteps in cyberspace and growls in the night, of the monster unmasked in the hotel room. Voices speaking of the light of celebrity used as a firebrand to lure, to burn, to hurt, to blind. Voices speaking of starstruck laughter turned to tears and screams and shame. And though I know I am Nobody to your Somebody, just a forgettable face among the throngs, though I know I am owed nothing, I want to know the truth.

 I want to know if you are one of the bad ones.

 I know there are few clean, clear lines in life. There is very little that is universally good or bad. We all have our masks and our shadows. To me, you may have been the one who helped me through a hard time, the light when I needed one, the window to the world I'd never seen. In some ways, you always will be.

But to someone else... were you the darkness? Were you the shark behind the smile, the light that burned?

Whatever you gave to me, in that intangible osmosis through story or screen, cannot outweigh that. You cannot be one of the good ones to me if you were the bad one to them. Their personal pain outweighs my general joy.

I'm still watching, still waiting. Not all stories are true, after all. Not all smiles hide shark teeth. But there are more voices. And your silence, while not damning, deafens...

I still want to believe that there are good ones.

Please, tell me that some of them are still good ones...

Saturday, February 01, 2020

To Whom It May Concern

To Whom It May Concern:

Although I have been skeptical of your product ever since the significant downgrades in late 2016, I tried your newest version, 2020.

After 31 days, I have come to the conclusion that it is even buggier and more terrifying than ever. My nation repeatedly crashes, and is infected with more malware and viruses than my scans could count. Tech support offered no real solutions, save a weak suggestion to wait for a November patch - a suggestion offered after it was clear that the distributors of said malware and viruses are wholly in charge of developing and implementing future patches and no longer care that the customers know it. Other programs, such as job and family, are also developing significant errors at alarming rates. Additionally, the entire World system appears to be overheating, and I suspect the hardware is already fatally damaged.

I would therefore like to cancel my subscription to 2020.

How do I uninstall, and to whom do I speak about obtaining a refund?

Sincerely,
Me

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Wait

I wait. They tell me to wait. They tell me things will get better soon - next week, next month, next bombshell, next election.

As I wait, I watch the hate rise and the truth die. I watch a flag fade into a negative parody of its own image, the man occupying the office formerly lauded as the leader of the free world held up as a paragon and inspiration to the worst elements of humanity. I watch as, under cover of numbing outrage, our justice system is stacked and perverted to ensure that the future will never rise above the prejudices and superstitions of the past.

As I wait, I watch hope fade for the futures I read about, futures where our species learns from its worst mistakes and survives to make more, where we don't boil our only home alive. I watch as greed empowers ignorance, as disaster is shrugged off as imaginary, then exaggerated, then inevitable. I watch as the same species that cracked the genome code and has sent technology to the furthest reaches of our solar system fails to comprehend that we cannot survive without pollinators for food or without water to drink, treating both as acceptable losses in the name of nebulous Progress.

As I wait, I watch the few sow chaos among the many. I watch the ignorant steamroll the educated. I watch the backward cripple the forward. I watch faiths weaponized as fanaticism. I watch patriotism corrupted into nationalism all around the world. I watch elected leaders spit directly in the eyes of the majority by failing to uphold both the letter and the spirit of the offices to which they were elevated, even as they actively cripple the means by which they could be held accountable.

Every day, I see the damage mount, the toll rise, the path forward grow exponentially longer, steeper, dimmer. I see the numbing, the normalization. I see no refuge, no holdout, no way to get there even if there were one.

I do what little I can, resist in the minor ways within my meager means. I try to tell myself it will matter.

Mostly, I wait. They tell me to wait.

Friday, September 28, 2018

American Zombie

I only have a short time before I leave for work, but there are thoughts, emotions that I have to get out and pin down.

Back in 2016, as I stared in horror at an election result I was told could not happen, would not happen - as I watched state after state bleed red - I had a fear, or perhaps a vision. America died that day. It died when the majority no longer mattered. It died when decency no longer was a prerequisite to holding office. It died when party trumped country, anger trumped hope, a warped nostalgia for a nonexistent past trumped the possibility of a better future. It would keep shambling on for a few years, perhaps many years, but inside it would be dead, hollowed out by parasitic worms as it stumbles along, until one day it falls over, empty skin over picked-clean bones, upon the dust.

I wanted to be wrong. Not only because I quite literally have nowhere else to go, lacking exportable job skills and money, but because I was raised to believe in America as an idea that would withstand its tests. I wanted to believe in checks and balances, in the power of the Constitution, in the supposed arc of history bending toward justice.

But the checks have bounced.

The balances are skewed, and skew harder every day, as it becomes increasingly clear that the voice and the will of the many holds no power compared to the money and interests of the few - particularly the foreign few.

The courts were already being packed. With this Supreme Court judicial appointment that seems all but inevitable, the courts - our last bulwark against totalitarianism, our last shred of hope for justice - will fall into line. And in this confirmation, the majority party (majority in the halls of power only) turns to the American people and tells us, once and for all, what matters.

Bipartisanship does not matter.

The voices of women do not matter.

The search for truth - a simple, standard investigation, that would've taken maybe a few weeks (and exonerated their man, if they were so certain he was not guilty) - does not matter.

The American Bar Association - which, admittedly at the eleventh hour, called for further investigations before confirmation - does not matter.

The voting majority does not matter.

The ongoing investigations into Russian interference - the very existence of impartial federal investigative bodies that do not answer directly to the party - do not matter.

Constitutional limits on power do not matter.

Even the appearances of concern for any of the above, the optics, do not matter.

They are beyond all that. Beyond all limitations and pretenses.

All that matters is the agenda, and a longstanding vendetta against progress.

And the worms - if nobody else - will crawl from America's corpse fat and happy.

(As for the delay for the investigation, like the sudden shift in tone from the Oval Office I don't trust it as far as I could spit - and I'm a lousy spitter...)