Social Madness

Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that something has to change. It is getting increasingly hard to focus on things, to find joy in the moments. I’m pulled in different ways by different things. It’s time for a break. So I am; effective immediately I am off social media. A digital vacation, if you will.

I love Instagram, but the algorithm drives me crazy!

I enjoy Twitter, but my feed is a mess.

I hate Facebook and haven’t used it in months.

I don’t understand Snapchat and it’s just an excuse to say I have it.

There are a few other sites and apps I use, all boil down to the same thing; it’s not important.

I get news from multiple sources. I listen to music and podcasts. I have friends that message me and call me. Social media isn’t making me happy. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. So, I’m taking a break.

I have a book I am still writing. I have a family I want to see and spend time with. I have books to read and albums to discover. I’m a busy guy.

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Not this time

It has been nineteen years since Columbine.

I was fifteen, and a freshman in High School.  If I had lived in Littleton, Colorado, I would have been a student there.

I wasn’t.  I lived in a small town in Central California, far removed from the terror of that April day.

And yet…from that day forward, it touched my life.  I wrote an essay about Columbine as an example of my writing for an Honor’s English exam.  The locks on our doors were changed to require a teacher’s key to enter.  We began having lockdown drills.

I was fifteen years old, and being asked to imagine a life and death situation.

Last week, for the eighteenth time this year, we asked other students to make that decision.  Eighteen school shootings in forty-five days.  One every two and a half days.

It’s helpful to start saying it out loud.

Seventeen died.  It’s helpful to say that too.  Some were coaches.  Some were members of the ROTC.  Some were just students. All had lives and pasts and present, but they don’t have futures anymore.

We can argue that it was a mentally disturbed individual that took that from them, but we took mental healthcare away.  So that arguement is over.

We can claim that is was a failure of the school, they should have had an armed guard, but they did.  He is dead too.

We can offer up our thoughts and prayers.  But those didn’t help twenty years ago, and they sure as hell won’t help now.

It was a gun that stole those lives, as much as it was a sad and demented individual.  We as a society gave him access to those weapons, as much as we gave them to the Columbine Shooters, or Aurora, or Newtown.  We said we would rather have guns than living kids.  We said the Second Amendment is more important than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We said that.

But we don’t anymore.

My generation should have stood up after Columbine.  We should have stood tall and said fix this.  Make us less afraid.  Make this world better.  But we didn’t.  We stood by and let them blame video games and movies and television and music.  We let them blame lazy parenting and schools and anyone else that was clumsy enough, or stupid enough, to stand in the way.  But never the guns.

We let our rights be taken after 9/11, because we were afraid.  We put up with fourteen years of War in the Middle East, because we weren’t the ones in charge.  We have wailed and knashed our teeth as we have been blamed and victimized and taken advantage of with student debt and lowered wages and rising inequality.

But not this generation.  This generation has said enough.  They have stood tall and said, “No more.”  No more guns.  No more hate.  No more inequality.  It stops now.  And we will stand with them.  Not because we have to.  Not even because we want to.  But because we should have been here the entire time.  Because we wanted to be here, but didn’t know how.

Because this generation…They will change the world.  And we will stand with them.

Goodnight.  And good luck.

Who are we?

I’m so sick of politics I could vomit.

Actually, that’s not true.  I’m so sick of us.  Of the American people.  Of Republicans and Democrats and 24-hour news networks.

I’m sick of a culture that forgot the lessons of Kindergarten.  That forgot common human decency.  Of a culture that cares more about what the Kardashians are doing than about what is happening to our fellows half a world away, let alone in our own neighborhoods.

I’m sick of people who will get into bed with racists and bigots because of a tax plan.  I’m sick of people claiming the moral imperative, and then supporting misogyny and hatred.  I’m sick of people shouting for tolerance and understanding, and then attacking the ideas of thoughts of others.

I’m sick of all of us.

When asked, a recent poll found that 56% of people believe their children will be worse off.  I’m one of them.  Republicans in this country read that poll and claim it’s a repudiation of Obama’s Presidency.  Democrats read it and spend the rest of the day arguing about how to fix it.  All of them act like the French politician that saw the people running, and said, “I must find out where they are going so I may lead them.”  They have the numbers, but they don’t understand.

I do belive our children will be worse off.

I belive that humankind is causing climate change.  I believe this because I have read the studies and looked at the math.  Because 99.9% of all climate scientists have told me so.  Because volcanoes produce somewhere between 65 million and 300 million tonnes/year of CO2, while humans produce 29 billion tonnes/year; we, as a species, produce massive amounts of green house gasses.  If a doctor tells me that I’ve got to change the way I eat or I will die, I believe them.

I believe that people should be treated fairly, no matter the color of their skin or their beliefs or whom they choose to love.  I believe that the Founding Fathers didn’t want religion within miles of their government.  I believe that the economy is stacked against most of us, and that the top 1% hold more wealth than the bottom 90%.  I believe these things because I read studies and abstracts and lectures.  Because I was taught critical thinking skills and am able to use my God-given faculties to find answers to questions.  I question.  I seek answers.

This election has been said to be about so many things.  A rejection of political correctness.  A rejection of the bicoastal elites.  A rejection of the norm.  Of “draining the swamp,” and finding a new way.  But, to me, it is a rejection of something else; a rejection of thought and civility.  A rejection of fact and embrace of fiction.  A focus on the felicitous and salacious.

And before you begin to think that I’m just angry that my candidate lost, my candidate lost in the Primaries; the Democrats nominated the worst candidate they could find.  I’m not angry that a Republican won; I think there are some great thinkers in the Republican Party, and I look forward to years of healthy debate with conservatives in the future.  I am angry though; because the American people have been had.  The liberals gave up the fight, and the conservatives jumped in bed with ugly people.  So, we’ll repeal the social safety net.  We’ll walk back our commitments to international climate change agreements, and find new ways to get involved in wars we have no business being in as a show of American “might.”

Yes, I do believe our children will be worse off.  But because we didn’t go far enough in the last eight years.  Because we elected a reality television star as our President and hailed it as a victory for a cause he doesn’t believe in.  Because we can’t talk about the ugly things it exposed in our culture without it devolving into an ugly conversation itself.

I do have hope though.  I hope that it will inspire new generations of liberals and conservatives alike to start the conversation over.  That is will inspire people to pay attention and get involved in the process of our government.  That it will inspire all of us to reconsider the role we play in our society.

And yes, to Mr. Trump and his administration, we will remember every word you have said.  We will remember the times you should have spoken and remained silent.  We will remember every forgotten tweet and campaign promise.  All of us, conservative and liberal alike.  And those of us that disagree with you, we will fight back.  For as Winston Churchill once stated, “we shall defend our land, whatever the cost may be,…and we shall never surrender.”

Because we believe our country, and our world, are worth fighting for.

Goodnight my friends, and good luck.