(Yes, it’s a pun. You’ll just have to get over it.)
At the start of April, I felt I had nothing and I was going nowhere. It’s just that simple. A long time ago, I decided I wouldn’t sugarcoat things here, so I told the truth as I saw it: I began last month aimless and, to put it simply, hopeless.
Since then, things have taken a turn for the better. I have a job as a full-stack developer—basically what I was already doing, but with the added bonus that I’ll be paid for it now. My relationship with the woman I love is slowly but surely picking back up, and I believe it’ll soon reach new heights.
Best of all, Hamilton County at last rescinded its illegal mask mandate a few days ago. Now that this human rights violation is gone (a year too late, if you ask me), I can actually go inside again. I mean, I could before, but only if I went up to Dayton, which doesn’t have nearly the commercial variety of Chattanooga. Now, though, we have finally been allowed to regain one of the vital freedoms, the inalienable rights, we lost last year.
We still lack others guaranteed by the Constitution. Freedom of speech is useless if you’re blocked from using it at every turn, as anyone who criticizes the regime on Facebook or Twitter (or who tries to start an alternative) will quickly discover. Freedom of religion and assembly both normally require being in proximity to other people; Zoom calls just don’t cut it. The right to privacy (enumerated, in part, by the Fourth Amendment) has been in mortal danger for two decades, no matter which party claims to be in power.
To be sure, other places have it worse. Most other English-speaking countries are effectively country-sized prisons at this point: Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are the most notable. The Pacific states get to suffer both lockdowns and riots. Compared to the sheer horror of other places, rural Tennessee really isn’t that bad.
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot more philosophical. I attribute this to my precarious mental state, my disdain for the way things are, and maybe even the first wisps of middle age, a phase of my life I’m approaching far too quickly.
I won’t say I’ve become religious, because I still find most forms of organized religion to be far too controlling and irrational for my tastes. If I wanted that, I’d turn on CNN, not TBN. But I, with a little help from those closest to me, have been discovering a kind of spiritual side of myself that was buried deep within.
(One of the few perks of getting older is that you get to use a few certain phrases to start sentences. Here’s one of them.) For decades, I’ve wanted to make an impact on the world, a change in the way things are that bring them closer to how I feel they should be. I don’t believe I’ll ever be the kind of thinker who deserves to be named alongside Thomas Paine, John Locke, or Baruch Spinoza, three of my favorite Enlightenment-era voices, but I do feel I have something to contribute in that vein.
I’m calling it technetism: literally, belief in creation. Because that is what I believe in. Creation over destruction. If I’ve learned anything from the depths of the past year, it’s that. What I value most strongly as a person, as a human being, is the positive power of making something. Whether that’s a computer program, a garden, a baby, a house, a scientific discovery, or a new social order, as long as you’re creating something, you’re adding to humanity as a whole. If you only destroy, by contrast, you’re taking away from all of us.
Creation, then, is the central pillar, but not the only one. It’s flanked by two others that, to me, also represent fundamental aspects of being human: learning and exploration. Without knowledge, we can’t make the right decisions; learning is the way we acquire that knowledge. Exploration lets us grow our worlds and add to our experiences, ultimately with the goal of sharing them through creation, even if that creation is merely the making of a new friendship or a lifelong relationship with, say, a soulmate living 100 miles away.
All three of these qualities are sorely lacking today. Too many people are seemingly against the whole idea of learning, closing their eyes and their minds to anything but the propaganda doled out by their favorite news outlet. Exploration is actively discouraged from childhood, and actually illegal in many places at the moment, because our society has chosen the wrong path in prioritizing safety above all else. And finally, we have all seen the sheer destruction that has wracked our country since last May.
Someone has to stand for what is good in this world. It might as well be me. I’m a man of principle, and I will stand up for what I believe is right. I will speak out against the evils I see in society, and those bent on destroying it. I do this not to make enemies, but to remind you that we can all be friends.
We have more in common than we realize, because we are all human. Deep down, we all have that spark of creation within our hearts. It doesn’t matter if you think it came from God or evolution or whatever. It doesn’t matter if that heart is inside a white body or a black one, a male or female. We are creators. We are explorers.
I, for one, am going to act like it.