I posted this to my Facebook after five months away from regular posting, moderating conversations of topics of the day, and debate. It was work I was proud of but had to leave for my own well-being.
You know, I miss talking to y’all about difficult things.
But I don’t regret leaving this medium.
Look around. This is exhausting. And it’s happening faster and faster. Drastic pay cuts in the face of inflation and record profits. Another old racist Senator with incredible power representing a state of people being held hostage for centuries saying that Black women are by definition unqualified. A state who invests in police instead of people reaping the whirlwind of broken infrastructure. Deaths greater than our generational moment of terror, 9-11, happening daily, and received as inevitable. Behind it all, the specter of climate change on the horizon.
And the bipartisan response is generally not serious. Let’s take our salary in crypto. Let’s get some more cops. Let’s send “lethal aid” to a country when our own lethal aid is more often used against protesters than actual terrorists.
I remain long-term hopeful. But I see no reason why we will avoid tremendous pain on the way. Our desire to remain moderate and to use fault finding across the spectrum (both-sides-ism) to lull us into inaction is going to kill us. For the majority of us, this is not a literal death, though I cannot emphasize enough that for the most vulnerable among us, financially, medically, socially, psychologically, it may be. But there’s a fantasy of what America could be, a multicolored cosplay like the set of Hamilton. There’s a set of ideas that were better than the men who created them. They didn’t have the imagination to apply them to non-white people, to women, to LGBTQ+ folks, to the disabled, to the landless and impoverished.
There are those among us who see our wild profit and excess, beyond what we could possibly need, and imagine how we could lift the floor, just a bit. Not so that those who contribute nothing live like kings, but just so that no human being has to live like a feral animal in a wasteland, especially while others live in ways that would make kings of old jealous. More fundamentally, we want to lift the floor so that the right to survive becomes unconditional and not based on your “contribution” to what we perceive as valuable from moment to moment.
We are held back only by our selfishness, by a kind of Stockholm syndrome that makes us identify with billionaires launching cars or themselves into space for fun instead of with neighbors who are working 70 hours to barely make rent while we work a hard 40 to do the same. We are in a cycle of generational abuse, where our groveling for tips and scraps that we were forced to do in the absence of a proper wage, our payment of onerous loans to get the next rung of the ladder opened to us, becomes normal. From this broken lens, letting people simply survive without immense struggle seems like the problem. They should suffer like we did. Was our suffering just? It had to be! Otherwise, what meaning did it have? And the thought that our struggle was meaningless, for the whims and desires of a few hoarders and parasitic entities and not for God’s glory or some grander purpose, is too painful to contemplate.
We have the imagination to fix this. And if we fail to radically reinvent some of our ways that we cling to in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, those who come after will ask a question that will be the source of speculation, debate, and the basis of entire academic careers.
“They had everything. Ten times everything. They had so much potential.
How could they fail so miserably to hold their society together?”