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Here We Are.

June 2nd, 2020 No comments

I speak to you, the chosen ones.
With all our strength, we stand aligned.
[…]
We’re breaking the walls from inside…
…so rise to the sound of Revolution.

Excerpt from “Revolution” by Kamelot, from their album “Haven” (2015).

I’ve been pondering what to say that hasn’t already been said about all the series of unfortunate events that seems to be the trend in the United States. I have neither the courage nor the logistics to be part of the protests in person; but staying quiet about them feels like tacit approval of the very system they are protesting against. And this, at least, I cannot do.

However, it is difficult to know exactly what to write here. I want to help, but I don’t want to mistakenly “help” in the wrong way: I want to incite change, not just more anger. I want to promote equality and education, not violence and vitriol.

These recent events are merely the culmination of many decades of injustice and intolerance; and the ideal solution would be change in the underlying systems which allow these to continue so pervasively. But in addition to these systemic failures of justice, there are lot of other aspects of our leadership structure and personnel that are detrimental also; and I’d like to mention those in this post too. I contend that no one issue here is more important than the other. Rather, all are individually important for their own reasons; and I am remarking on them grouped together here only for the sake of attempting to express my thoughts more completely.

In the year 2020, we have at the forefront of sociopolitical power in our country and many others, people with very little competency and nearly as little accountability. And they are more often than not kept in their high offices by corporations and lobbyists who can effectively win any election just by throwing enough money at it, rather than by any merits of candidacy. Third-party candidates almost never succeed — even if they are exceedingly qualified and capable — solely because they are of a third party.

In the year 2020, during a global viral pandemic, we have a significant number of people who, despite such claims being thoroughly debunked by every reputable medical organization, are advocating against the safety and efficacy of vaccination, even though a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine would be — once properly developed — the only truly safe and effective way to return to some semblance of normalcy.

In the year 2020, when science has graced us with the capabilities of astronauts being able to live and research on the International Space Station long-term, collaborating between many nations to further humanity’s knowledge, and when we can video chat in real-time between these astronauts in orbit and people on both sides of the the planet simultaneously using pocket-sized always-connected devices that can also quite literally show us the breadth of all human knowledge…we have groups of people accepting outlandish conspiracy theories and protesting against the very existence of COVID-19, saying things like the world is flat, manmade climate change is not real, and that COVID-19 is somehow a hoax so that the governments can track their citizens better. (Of course it should not need to be said, but none of these are true. And, fun fact: if they wanted to track their citizens better, it would be far easier to do so using the always-on always-connected mobile phones that almost everyone has on their persons at all times. But hey, who am I to argue logic with those who refuse its clarity.)

In the year 2020, almost a century after the Civil Rights movement first began in earnest, there are still people who think that it is somehow okay to devalue other human beings simply because they are different: whether that is a difference of skin color, gender, or sexual orientation, or because they are of a different socioeconomic group, or because they are of a different culture or race, or for any other aspect of them that differs from a prescribed societal norm. (To be clear: this is absolutely not okay.)

And more recently in the year 2020, echoing many prior instances such as the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and many others, we have police officers who, despite having sworn an oath “to never betray […] the public trust” and “to hold [themself] and others accountable for [their] actions” (source: IACP Oath of Honor), abuse their power to epitomize this intolerance through clear excessive force leading to outright murder — in this most recent case, the murder of George Floyd — and are often not held justly accountable for it.

And just a few days ago, after the United States alone reached over 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and still has almost 2 million confirmed infected (source: CDC), we had the chief executive officer of the United States announce that our country would be leaving the World Health Organization, in order to continue his racist trend of blaming China for this disease. (Fun fact: China itself holds about 19% of the world’s entire population. So, yes, it is going to be a significant focus for pandemic efforts, on the simple basis that it holds such a large proportion of the world population. That’s just how epidemiology works.)

Let me be perfectly clear: None of this is acceptable.

Respect should be the default in our interactions with other people, not some reward earned through commonality of class or culture. Respect should never have to be earned. It should always be given.

And yet, here we are.

We should not be so entrenched in a political system that so readily divides issues across bipartisan lines. Parties should be debating what the correct solutions are to our socioeconomic and welfare problems, not debating whether these problems even exist at all. We should not have to vote for the lesser of two evils simply because the qualified third candidate won’t win.

And yet, here we are.

We should not, in the midst of a viral pandemic, be separating ourselves from the primary worldwide organization whose current overarching goal is to end this pandemic with a minimum of life loss.

And yet, here we are.

We should not have groups of people afraid to simply live out their lives, due to the high likelihood of being attacked by those in power who should be protecting them, just because they look or act differently.

And yet, here we are.

#BlackLivesMatter should not need to be a hashtag.

And yet, here we are.

People should not need to be protesting in the midst of a viral pandemic, that their lives are in danger from the very people who should be protecting them, by endangering their own lives even further as part of a (hopefully peaceful) crowd.

And yet, here we are.

We should not have our police officers armed to the teeth and attacking the very people they are sworn to protect, while our medical personnel are struggling to make ends meet with not enough PPE and ventilator equipment to help keep people alive through this global pandemic.

And yet, here we are.

We should not have such intolerance so hardwired into the justice and political systems that even the people who hold arguably some of the highest offices in the world are willfully ignorant and continue to encourage prejudice over progress, and wealth over well-being.

And yet. Here. We. Are.

To you protesters, please stay safe. Stay vigilant. Stay peaceful. You are bold; you are brave; and I stand with you, albeit virtually.

Categories: Life, Politics, Science Tags:

Open Letter to the Trump-voting American Public

November 9th, 2016 No comments

Dear America,

What the actual fuck?

I am ashamed. I am appalled. I am stunned. And I am speechless. I am disgusted to be an American today.

America, you stand on the precipice of electing to arguably one of the most powerful jobs on Earth not a qualified (though flawed) woman, but instead a man who, among his other terrible attributes

  1. spouts science-denying rhetoric, including having many times remarked that global warming isn’t a man-made concern, that it is a hoax started by the Chinese, and that vaccines cause autism — for the record: it is, it isn’t, and they don’t;
  2. has failed virtually every business venture in which he’s partaken, including declaring bankruptcy at least four times;
  3. has neither military nor political experience of any significance;
  4. has repeatedly advocated for violence as a solution to disputes including suggesting using nukes on enemies preemptively (!) and encouraging his supporters to punch protesters at his rallies;
  5. has repeatedly insulted and belittled women, handicapped people, LGBTQ people, Muslims, blacks, immigrants and many others;
  6. has been endorsed and held to high esteem by the KKK for his intolerance;
  7. has encouraged his supporters to bully voters at polling locations; and
  8. has staunchly been an opponent of LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights.
Let’s not forget that his VP candidate, Mike Pence, is arguably just as scary or possibly moreso: He has been outspoken against both Roe v. Wade and LGBT equal rights, including advocating for repeal of same-sex marriage; and has even suggested using federal funding to pay for so-called  “gay conversion therapy,” a malicious, wholly unethical, and entirely ineffective practice which is already (thankfully) banned in five states, including California.
 
Any single one of these should automatically be a red flag for someone of such potentially high office. But Trump (and in some cases Pence) embody all of these failures as a person and more; and with Republicans appearing to be winning the House and Senate majorities too, you’ve effectively removed even the checks and balances that are in the government by design to restrict such power. In addition to this, Trump’s candidacy has effectively legitimized the bigotry, xenophobia, and intolerance that we’ve worked so hard to rid ourselves of over the past two centuries…I guess the thought is that if someone of Trump’s stature can do something so horrible or cruel and get away with it, why can’t John Q. Public too? But this “us versus them” mentality is exactly the sort of fear-mongering that Trump is succeeding in spreading.
 
Just look at his record: The only person Donald J. Trump cares about is Donald J. Trump. If you thought he could “make America great again” even though virtually every political and economic expert worldwide is telling you otherwise, or that he could fix our economy the way he “fixed” his businesses, you are both mistaken and ill-informed. If you thought he could fix our immigration policies by closing ourselves off from the world and dividing us, you are again gravely mistaken and need to relearn basic United States history. If you think he can fix our healthcare issues by repealing ObamaCare, leaving 20+ million Americans without a decent health insurance option, then you are literally dooming many of these — your fellow Americans! — to death or disability simply because they can’t afford treatment. And if you think for one moment that he even is remotely qualified or deserving of the role of President of the United States even though he knows so little of the Constitution that he would be sworn to uphold and defend, then you are deeply, horrendously mistaken and I pity just how ignorant you truly are.
 
Do I agree with every one of Hillary Clinton’s policy proposals and ideals? No, absolutely not! (For example, everything I’ve read about the TPP just makes me despise it more and more.) But when it comes down to it, she has a decent amount of experience and knowledge to succeed in the role of President, which would have put her leaps and bounds above Trump (who has none). In addition, she had the support of Senator Bernie Sanders, former presidential candidate (and arguably someone more suited to the job than even she). I would have hoped that would be enough for those who voted for him in the primary…? But I digress.
 
Oh well, the long night is over and the election is done, right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. (Again.)
 
Congratulations, America. You’ve made your collective choice. I would have thought it to be a comparatively easy one, but apparently I have forgotten the error of your voting ways. In the 2000 and 2004 elections when you voted in George W. Bush and a GOP-heavy congress, you chose wrong; and those set us back many years of economic, scientific, and sociopolitical growth. I thought you had learned form those failures; but I was incorrect. A decade later and yet again you chose wrong. And the detriment to not only your own country this time, but to the rest of the world will likely be far in excess of anything we can imagine. This is going to leave a scar that time will not easily erase. I’d say to learn from history and not repeat this terrible mistake; but it seems you’ve twice failed to learn the lesson already.
 
We do have one saving grace, however: The electoral college is in place specifically to ensure that a dangerous candidate, even if victorious in the popular vote, does not become the elected president. I now urge the electors in those red states to do what’s right, going against the ignorance and idiocy of their own populace.
 
I hope you’re proud of yourselves, America. I’m not. I’m disgraced and disgusted by you. And when so many of you are willing to put such a dangerous and divisive man into power, I am truly scared of what the future holds for our country, for our world, and for humanity.
Categories: Politics Tags: ,