Defense mechanism

The pithy, meme-like definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. By that standard, I am completely, certifiably insane.

I do the same things, fall into the same patterns, again and again. My days all seem to blur into one, the only breaks in the monotony coming when disaster strikes, such as the death of my cousin in July. Everything in my life feels to me like a downward spiral, as if I’m swirling around a cosmic toilet bowl, and some part of me sees that analogy as all too accurate.

All that should be fairly obvious to anyone who has read some of my earlier posts on PPC. Nothing new, really, except that I think I’ve finally reached the point of acceptance. If the path to becoming a better man, to reaching the kind of life goals I want from myself, requires battling my own inner demons, an apathetic family, and a hostile world at every turn, then I have to stop and ask, “Is it even worth the cost?”

History lesson

World War I is now over a century in the past, but we still remember it today. Four years of bloodshed, devastation, and misery inflicted on the entirety of humanity for the trivialities of a fading noble class. Millions of lives lost, countless others left permanently damaged in body, mind, or spirit. The entire world left upside down.

Some people see their lives as metaphorical warfare, and I often wonder which wars they’re talking about. The movie kind, almost certainly, the stylized tales of individual heroism. They see themselves as protagonists, as the lone wolf fighting off waves of Nazis, Communists, Taliban, or whoever their preferred enemy might be. In their lives, the bullets fly, but they never find their mark. Wounds are patched up off-screen, and the mental trauma is swept under the rug.

Not so for me. I feel more like an infantryman of WWI: nameless, faceless, with little hope for survival. I’m stuck in a trench, never truly gaining ground except to give it right back. Monotony and drudgery are enemies as great as the ones sniping at me, and harder to defend against.

Even the best soldier gets worn down eventually. Even the strongest man cracks under the constant pressure. I was never the best, never the strongest, so I sometimes wonder how I’ve held on this long. And sometimes I wonder if I have, or if I’ve already been broken beyond repair.

I consider myself at war in more than the metaphorical sense, however. As I see it, this whole country—no, this whole world is at war. It’s mostly a cold war at this point, this battle of good versus evil, liberty versus tyranny. We see occasional flickering flames, such as the present rioting in Australia and ongoing protests in France, but most of the war is being waged in the hearts and minds of our fellow man. We’re just waiting for our Fort Sumter, our Lexington and Concord, our Pearl Harbor or Franz Ferdinand or Dien Bien Phu. The moment in which our enemy, in this case the enemy of all that is good and just in this world, finally makes that fatal mistake and turns a cold war into a shooting conflict.

Last stand

But being a soldier is hard work, remember. We in America have been in a constant state of war for twenty years running, but the last few have seen that war turned against the common people, and the past eighteen months have seen the good guys take loss after loss on the psychological battlefield.

Early research into what has, at various points in history, been called combat fatigue, shell shock, and post-traumatic stress disorder gave a good upper bound for the time a battle-ready soldier could expect to be deployed in active combat before suffering a mental breakdown. That time works out to around 280 days; curiously, about the same amount of time as a pregnancy.

We’ve been under siege for twice that, and the numbers show that we’re all starting to break at a frantic pace. Depression is skyrocketing. The same goes for anxiety. General feelings of malaise, despair, hopelessness, and similar negative emotions are so common that it’s getting almost impossible to find someone who isn’t seeing the worst in each passing day.

I have all of the above and more. I used to look at each day wondering what I could do, what I could make, and how I could make a difference. Now, though, I greet each morning with a sigh and a vain hope that it won’t get any worse. I can’t blame all of that on external factors, of course. Some of it comes from my own problems, problems that were exacerbated, not created, by current events.

Placing blame really misses the point. What’s more important is that I’m broken, I know I’m broken, and I accept that putting myself back together is beyond me. I’m a casualty of this war, make no mistake.

If I have to go down, let me go down swinging. That’s all I feel I can ask now. I doubt I’ll ever have children—another hope dashed in the past year and a half—so there aren’t a lot of reasons to keep fighting. What fight I have left, then, is in the defense of the ideals I hold most dear: liberty and justice for all, equal opportunity, the rights each of us has from birth. For the sake of those I love, I’ll fight in the name of those ideals as long as I can. Even if I can’t live in a world free from the evils of tyranny, maybe I can help make it so they can. It’s a small chance, but it’s all I’ve got, so I’ll keep on fighting for it until the bitter end.

I just can’t help but think that end is coming sooner than I ever expected.

No more heroes

(Not a song this time, but a game. A game I’ve never played, in fact.)

The world is a very dark place now. I don’t even mean that from the context of my severe depression. No, anyone can see that humanity as a whole is being forced into a period of fear, repression, and regression. A new Dark Age. Like the old one, this one has a religion at the helm, a cabal of priest-like figures issuing dogma and demanding that we bend our lives, our minds, and our wills to it.

This time, however, that religion isn’t Christianity, but something far worse: Scientism. The perversion of science in the past decade has, as we all know, reached its peak. The falsified data regarding the coronavirus that was released from the Wuhan lab led to the global spread of authoritarianism under the guise of a so-called pandemic that we now know is less deadly than the flu we deal with every year. The same forces are using the same sort of faulty data to push a “cure” that is quite literally deadlier than the disease. Those facts are indisputable by anyone who has taken a critical look at them.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, the apex of Scientism’s anti-science crusade. While they make a mockery of biology by discarding decades of groundbreaking discoveries, other fields are finding the same fate. Climatology is one of the biggest strongholds of the cult, as findings are routinely discarded or modified to fit the doctrine of global warming. Statistics has suffered, too, with techniques and equations being derided for no other reason than because they were used to illustrate the blatant fraud in the 2020 election. Genetics is in the process of being replaced by gender theory. Math is called racist because its results are objective facts.

This infiltration extends to the soft sciences, too, though it is harder to show what came from Scientism versus what was already present. Psychology isn’t much more than arguing about various shades of “dysphoria” now, but is that a passing fad or a sea change? The push for historical diversity even where there was none can be seen as wokeness or the usual tearing down of work done by the generation before.

Thanks to a complicit media, every part of our lives is currently under the sway of Scientism. In my view, this is exactly like the control of the Church during the Dark Ages, but with one glaring exception. At least Rome provided some benefits to devout Christians. The modern dogma offers only suffering, never redemption.

Heroes arise

It’s a trope older than movies, older even than books. When the darkness is at its fullest, that’s when the stars come out. That’s when the heroes show their faces. At that moment when all seems lost—modern screenwriters literally call it the “All Is Lost” moment—the good guys reveal themselves, or simply reveal their true power.

Since that trope, like so much else in the shared culture that is the West, has been co-opted by the same media whose purpose is to beat us down, the real heroes aren’t often seen. Indeed, we’re supposed to think they don’t exist, and instead give our praise to mediocre athletes, mediocre musicians ,and the occasional random drug addict turned counterfeiter. We aren’t even allowed to look to heroes of old, because all of them have been demonized, excommunicated by the cult of Scientism for the sin of living under a different moral code.

The media’s idea of heroes is like it’s idea of everything else: bland, uninspiring, and designed to appeal to no one while pretending to appeal to everyone. And that almost has to be deliberate. If we have no one to look up to except flawed characters who never truly prevail against the evils in their world, would we not begin to think that such evil in our world is inevitable?

Worse yet, the few actual heroes still around are vilified for taking a stand, because that stand is against the reigning cult. People like Mike Lindell and Jovan Pulitzer, Glenn Greenwald and Alex Berenson, Kyle Rittenhouse and Ashli Babbitt. Groups such as America’s Frontline Doctors. These are the closest thing we have to heroes, because they stand against tyranny. They stand for freedom and the future of humanity. They are willing to put their careers, their reputations, and their lives on the line for what they believe.

Not everyone can afford to take that kind of stand. We’ve become too integrated, too reliant on the very system we need to bring down. But tyrants always fall in the end, and the tide is slowly turning against those of the present day.

Protests in Denmark have succeeded in reversing the draconian restrictions of that country. Those in France are less effective, but attrition is starting to have an effect. The truckers’ strike in Australia, getting precisely zero mainstream media coverage here in the US, has enormous popular support.

Those are big news. They involve the fate of entire countries, entire cultures. One might think that, of the nearly eight billion people in the world, how can one man or woman do anything? But this neglects the local impact, which is no less important. Petty tyrants in your city, county, and state can also be defeated through the same means. Look at how many vaccine mandates had to be dropped at the last minute, as hospitals couldn’t deal with an immediate 20-30% reduction in staff. (I don’t see how, as they’re all pretty much empty, but there you go.) School boards everywhere are backing down as angry parents challenge mandatory mask-wearing for children who were never in any danger to begin with.

It’s a long struggle, but then the fight for freedom is eternal, and it must be waged anew by each generation. In the end, we as a nation and a species will emerge victorious. To do that, however, we need heroes. We need everyday heroes. The father taking his child to school without a mask. The woman willing to be fired rather than injected. The doctor who writes prescriptions for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine…and the pharmacist who fills them. The researcher risking his career to point out that temperatures were higher in the 1930s. The geneticist who states that X and Y chromosomes do, in fact, exist. The historian who dares to tell the truth about America: that we are a nation found upon the ideals of liberty and justice for all.

And the time may soon come when we are called to defend those ideals in a more physical, more lethal manner. In that case, we’ll need the other kind of heroes, the same kind that our children are being taught to hate today: Washington, Patton, Lee, and all the great leaders from the bloodier times of our past.

When a true believer in his cause assassinated a prominent leader who had forcibly taken his people’s property, denied them the basic rights of law, and waged a brutal war solely because those people wanted to be left alone, he uttered three simple words: Sic semper tyrannis.

Thus always to tyrants.

Human pride

June, as everyone not living under a rock knows, is Pride Month. It’s that special time of year when corporations across the country dress up their logos with the rainbow flag that gains colors faster than a box of crayons and spread vague, virtue-signaling one-liners about how they stand with certain people against hatred. Oh, and there used to be marches and stuff, but then Valentine’s Day used to be a Catholic saint’s day, too.

The original purpose of Pride Month wasn’t that bad…at least in theory. As a social movement to increase awareness of alternative lifestyles and relationships, it served a purpose. Of course, since the Oberfeller decision a few years ago, that purpose is now superfluous. Gay marriage is legal across the nation, the ultimate expression of acceptance. And that case also set a precedent: sexual orientation is considered a protected legal category under the 14th Amendment, so the entire “gay rights” agenda has been fulfilled. Equality is here. There’s no need to fight for it any longer.

Thus bereft of a goal, Pride Month has been left to a rather confusing pair. Commercialization is the fate of all holidays, really, so it’s only natural that a month-long celebration of once-forbidden love would find itself in the corporate crosshairs. But the movement was always geared towards the political left, so we now see the curious juxtaposition of anti-capitalist progressives on June 1 “standing with” the very global corporations they were threatening to boycott on May 31.

Both sets share the same desire, however, so it’s not entirely unreasonable to see this temporary alliance of convenience. For these groups seek to divide us for their own gain. Progressives thrive on conflict, as we know; their whole worldview is based on class warfare, on setting us against each other. Corporations, of course, are only out for short-term gains, but those most immersed in the “pride” culture tend to be the ones with captive markets and virtual monopolies. They can’t very well lose market share, but a few tweets can reach the small segment of the populace who would otherwise ignore them, and that’s just modern PR.

But using this month as a reason to incite further divisions in society or, worse, to cast those who are tired of the force-fed propaganda as hateful and loathsome, is a tragic miscarriage of justice, to say the least. Much like Black History Month, what was once a celebration has become an inquisition. It’s anti-human. It’s anti-equality. It is, to put it simply, a perversion of everything the various equal rights movements were founded upon.

Instead of worshiping what sets us apart, we should begin to embrace what we have in common. We should take pride in being human, because all of us share that. Whatever you believe, whatever you look like, whatever attracts you, you are human. You are one of billions, yet still unique in many ways.

Not only are you human, but so are other people. Everyone you love, everyone you know, is a human being, just like you and me. In a world where dark forces seek to dehumanize us at every turn, to fit the entire population into a number of mutually-exclusive categories solely to set us against one another, it’s important to remember that we are better than that. We can do better.

Within the last decade, we proved that by ending a restriction, a limitation of rights defined as inalienable, that had been in place for over 200 years. None of us is lesser because of who we love, and that statement is now the law of the land. True, we may not always live up to the ideals we express, but that is no reason to reject them. No, we must do better. We must strive to reach them, while knowing we will never quite attain the perfection and utopia we long for.

We are human. Our reach will always exceed our grasp, but that should not dissuade us. The pride we should celebrate is not that which separates us, and certainly not the idea that some of us deserve more because of who we are. No, our pride is in the knowledge that humanity can grow, that each and every one of us can contribute to that growth if we all work together.

Progress doesn’t care if you’re gay or straight, if you’re black or white, if you’re male or female. All that matters is being human. The only entry card to the clique of progress is your humanity. As corporations aren’t people, they’ll never understand that. As progressives stand against unity, they will always fight it. But we know the truth.

In this month and every month to come, be proud. Be human.

Dear agony

(Title for this post is from the Breaking Benjamin song of the same name, whose refrain you’ll see as soon as I finish this parenthetical.)

Dear agony,
Just let go of me
Suffer slowly
Is this the way it’s gotta be?

The simple answer to your question, Ben, is…no. No, it doesn’t have to be that way. But only if something good happens to give you a little bit of hope.

Over the past few weeks, it has.

For fifteen long months, I had suffered. I had all but given up. I’m not afraid to admit that. There were nights that I cried myself to sleep, days where I would hide in my room, not wanting to do anything but sleep. And if that sleep turned into the more permanent sort, well, I wouldn’t have been opposed. At least then the pain would stop, right?

Now, I honestly feel like a whole new person. While I’m sure a certain man in northern Virginia wouldn’t mind taking all the credit for that, it wasn’t just the job that gave me hope. No, landing that position merely gave me the spark. As I’ve said often, if I could get just one good thing to happen to me, all the rest would fall in line. And it might be doing precisely that.

The world still sucks, as we all know, but things are getting a little better. The ranks of those who question the narrative are growing, and they have grown large enough in my humble state to start putting the brakes on our slow decline into tyranny. Better would be throwing this train into reverse and getting us back to liberty: banning mask mandates, banning vaccine passports, opening schools and bars and sporting events. In short, living our lives, instead of cowering in fear. But any progress is good, even if it’s so slow that snails are outrunning us.

That is one belief I hold dear. Progress is good. Progress has given us immeasurable benefits, and it will continue to do so as long as we embrace it. Not everything new is progress, however. Anyone who has grumbled over an app update or yelled at a voice menu knows that all too well.

True progress is that which improves the human condition: longer lives, healthier lives, more freedom, more resistance to the ravages of nature, and so on. Unfortunately, it’s so often the case that we are told these things are bad. We’re defying the will of God or poisoning Mother Earth or whatever.

The worst of this sort of thinking became popular last year, when elites and their hangers-on parroted the line, “Nature is healing.” In effect—and, in some cases, in words—these people made the claim that we humans are a pathogen, and the made-in-China coronavirus was, in fact, a natural response to our overreach in some nebulous way. Of course, the same people say the same things about weather disasters, so you can’t take them seriously, but the sheer idiocy of such a statement never fails to annoy me.

My contemplations of the past year or so gave rise to technetism, but this anti-human religion gives it an enemy. And I feel it gives me a higher purpose, something beyond writing novels and computer programs. Common sense dictates that I reject the nihilism and doom-saying of the environmentalists, the pandemic fearmongers, and all those who stand in the way of progress.

However, a negative philosophy is no philosophy at all; this is my biggest criticism of atheism, and it fits here, too. It is perfectly fine to say that you don’t believe in something, but far more fulfilling if you can find something you do believe in. If you have to make it yourself, then so be it. Every movement began somewhere.

I choose to believe that humans are an inherently positive influence on the world, and on each other. We build, we create, we invent. We solve problems. We come together and make something greater. Yes, there are individuals (and large groups) standing in our way, blocking our progress. Impediments have always existed, though. They’ll never truly go away. What we can, and must, do is overcome them. The best way to start, in my opinion, is to be more sociable. Shake hands, hug, get close to one another again. Take off the masks and let people see that we are human beings.

There’s still a lot of agony out there. For me, it hasn’t all gone away over the past few weeks. But now I have enough positive influences in my life to see the sun peeking through the clouds. Now I have a reason to fight that extends beyond myself and those I love.

Maybe that’s all I needed.

May it be

(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.

Year of hell

(The title isn’t from a song this time. Instead, this very appropriate name comes from my favorite episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the most underrated of the Trek series.)

One year ago, I was free. One year ago, I had hopes and dreams. I believed I had a chance to succeed, to achieve some of the life goals I’ve had for decades. I lived in a country where this was possible, if unlikely for one such as myself. I was depressed, yes, but I felt like I could see the light, that I could reach it, if only I tried hard enough.

A lot can change in a year.

Now, I live in a dystopian nightmare. I haven’t been inside a business in a full year, apart from five seconds inside the America’s Best store in Hixson last May. I went in to get my new glasses. I’d gotten the prescription in February, but then I had to find the money to pay for them. By the time I finally managed that, the whole world shut down, with the notable bastions of intelligence in Sweden and South Dakota. So I couldn’t actually pick up my order until businesses were “allowed” to reopen.

But it wasn’t that simple. As soon as I walked inside, the cashiers demanded a temperature check, so I walked right back out. My mom, who took me down there (can’t drive without glasses, remember), is less allergic to authoritarianism, so she submitted to the illegal medical exam long enough to retrieve what I had already paid for.

Since then, I’ve mostly stayed at home. And that’s most certainly not because I believe that’s the best way to combat a virus.

No, lockdowns don’t work. We have proof of that. You only need to look at the places that didn’t imprison their entire citizenry for months on end to see the real numbers. Similarly, masks don’t work. That’s why I haven’t worn one since December 2019, when I thought I had the flu. (As it turns out, I had the Wuhan coronavirus. You know how I know? Because it was listed as the flu and an “unknown pathogen” on my release papers.) As I haven’t been sick—in the physical sense, as I know I’m seriously mentally ill—since, I’ve seen no reason to restrain my breathing, trigger my anxiety, and curtail my liberty in that manner.

Well, you might think, what about the vaccine? Uh-uh. First off, it’s not a vaccine, because the purpose of a vaccine is to provide immunity to a virus by stimulating the body’s immune system. The Moderna and Pfizer mRNA treatments don’t do this. They don’t prevent you from contracting the Wuhan virus. They don’t prevent you from spreading it to others. They barely alleviate the symptoms. What they actually do is even worse. Ask Hank Aaron. Ask the nurse from Chattanooga who passed out on live TV. Ask the women who’ve had miscarriages, the perfectly healthy men in their 30s who have suffered serious injury or even death.

The virus has an overall fatality rate of around 0.02%, and essentially no reinfection. (Wait, 0.02%? Don’t the official numbers say 0.26%? Yes, but those are heavily inflated. Per the CDC’s own report, only about 6% of deaths can be traced to the virus itself. The rest are due to comorbidities: preexisting conditions such as obesity, heart problems, kidney failure, etc. Since comorbidities aren’t counted for vaccine deaths, we need to compare apples to apples.)

The mRNA “vaccines” cause serious harm in about 5% of cases, and death in as many as 0.4%. We don’t know the exact figures, because they rely on voluntary reporting, and no one wants to point out that Emperor Fauci has no clothes. However you look at the data, though, it doesn’t lie. On the whole, getting the virus is actually safer than getting its supposed cure!

And that’s merely one more truth the world has decided to deny in the past year. But there are many more.

  • Lockdowns are ineffective. They achieve nothing in terms of slowing the spread of an illness, unless you go to the extremes of a certain communist dictatorship and weld people’s doors shut so they can’t go outside. As sane countries are supposed to respect things like basic human rights and dignity, citizens will go outside. And they should, because the fastest way to end a pandemic is to reach herd immunity.

  • The Chinese virus isn’t even a pandemic. Take away the overinflated death counts, where suicides, overdoses, car accidents, and murders are attributed to a virus simply because the victim tested positive in a flawed procedure three weeks before the time of death, and it never reached the CDC’s defined threshold of pandemic status. That’s when approximately 5% of all deaths are caused by the pathogen in question; only by counting every death under the sun were we able to hit that mark even at the peak last April.

  • The makers of the “vaccines” have ulterior motives. Notice that they are indemnified against all liability, and they’ve received billions of taxpayer dollars. These treatments have bypassed the normal FDA requirements, and why? The virus isn’t another Spanish flu. It’s not smallpox or polio. It has killed fewer people than tuberculosis in the past year.

  • People are suffering. The single-minded focus on this particular virus has caused irreparable harm to our society and our populace. Suicides are at an all-time high. Childhood trauma is rampant. Depression and anxiety, as I know all too well, can make plenty of people wish they were dead, or at least not living through this.

  • The media is not on our side. For twelve months, they have parroted the talking points of a specific segment of the political spectrum. Andrew Cuomo was a hero when he sent infected patients to nursing homes a year ago, killing thousands of elderly men and women. The governors of California, Washington, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, and many other states have acted in a way more appropriate to the old Soviet Union, if not the feudal era. And not only have journalists not called out these gross abuses of power, but they have lauded them every step of the way.

Twelve months ago, even expressing these ideas was heresy of the highest order. You were instantly branded a denier, a skeptic, an alt-right fascist terrorist. You were called racist, sexist, or any number of other hateful epithets.

Now? Oh, it’s even worse. But some people are waking up. There’s a strong anti-mask movement that isn’t hard to find. The worst government abuses and excesses are finally getting pushback. Alternative social media platforms are gaining in popularity, especially now that the big players—Google, Twitter, Facebook—have deemed scientific accuracy and a love of personal liberty to be violations of their terms of service.

It’s been a rough year. In twelve months, I’ve gone from cautiously optimistic to suicidally depressed. The only thing that gives me hope is the knowledge that I’m not alone in this. Anyone who has taken any time at all to think about what we’re being forced to endure feels the same way. We don’t want a “new normal”, where children aren’t allowed to play, where handshakes and hugs are illegal, where you’re a prisoner in your own home unless you agree to undergo experimental genetic modification. No, we want what we had. What was taken from us.

This “pandemic” isn’t worth the name. Compare the total death counts in the US from 2019 and 2020. Shouldn’t those “500,000 coronavirus deaths” show up there? Look at the flu stats for this winter—rather, the total absence of them. Look at the mental health crisis sweeping our nation, and tell me stopping what amounts to a bad cold is worth that cost. Spare a thought for the record number of suicides in the last year.

Because there were a lot of days where I almost joined them.

If you want something done right…

For my entire life, I have had to rely on others. And never have those others failed me more often than in our system of representative government. Whether in Chattanooga, Nashville, or Washington, the past two decades of adulthood have taught me that those who claim to rule in my name do not have my best interests at heart.

Like any good American, I’m ready to take matters into my own hands. Thus, it is with no small amount of trepidation that I say this:

I, Michael H. Potter, hereby declare my intent to seek the office of Representative for Tennessee’s 27th House District as an Independent in the 2022 General Election.

Democrats in this state’s offices are feckless, powerless. Republicans are willfully ignorant of the plight of the common Tennessean. I intend to stand for everyone in the 27th District, no matter their party affiliation (or lack thereof). No matter their race, sex, religion, ideology, or heritage.

If you live in Soddy-Daisy, I’ll represent you. If you live on Signal Mountain, I’ll represent you. Red Bank, Walden, Mowbray or Flat Top or Lookout Mountain, and anywhere in between: I’ll represent you. Because we are all Tennesseans. We are all Americans.

In the coming weeks, I will open my candidacy at MHP For Tennessee, and I will begin to grow my presence on alternative social media platforms that respect our rights as Americans.

For today, I would like to say that my platform is strictly defined by the Constitution of the United States and its associated amendments. To that end, my primary goals as your representative are as follows:

  • A statewide ban on all government-ordered mask and vaccine mandates related to COVID-19 or future minor pandemics, to be replaced by public education regarding infectious agents that is based on science rather than politics.

  • A requirement that any electronic voting machines used in Tennessee use open source software whose contents are available to the public, with independent security audits performed before and after any election.

  • A repeal of certain laws that disfavor local, in-state small businesses and cooperatives in favor of national or global corporations, such as the anti-municipal internet laws preventing all Tennesseans from benefiting from investment by local power companies.

  • The binding declaration of our great state as a sanctuary for the rights guaranteed by the First and Second Amendments, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to bear arms.

  • A focus on returning civics and critical thinking skills to our children’s education throughout the state, to combat the spread of harmful and anti-American doctrines such as Critical Race Theory.

  • The creation of public-private partnerships to emphasize skill-based training and hiring, thereby giving more Tennesseans entry or reentry into the workforce without the great expense of a college-level education in fields which have little need for it.

  • A continuous vigilance in pushing back against federal overreach, whether legislative or executive, by exercising our state’s powers of self-regulation under the Tenth Amendment.

The Shotgun Divorce

It’s very rare that a country splits in two. Korea did it (with the help of a war), leading to a case where one of the most advanced countries borders one of the most backward. Scotland almost seceded from the United Kingdom a while back; alas, that didn’t pan out. South Sudan might be a good example, if not for the fact that it’s now one of the poorest places in the world.

In modern times, there’s really only one positive data point for a country splitting: Czechoslovakia. The nation was born from Communism and the ashes of the World Wars, but it always had tension. Maybe not as much as its Yugoslav cousins, but the Czechs and Slovaks almost seemed destined to split.

That split took place in 1992. Less than 30 years ago, and not long after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall, and the rest of the Cold War icons. Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic (now somewhat officially known as Czechia) and Slovakia—not to be confused with Slovenia, an entirely different place. Relatively speaking, it was a peaceful parting of ways. Even the popular name for the momentous occasion sounds affectionate: the Velvet Divorce.

The United States is fast approaching a point where our internal divisions are too great to overcome. We’re reaching critical mass, and the highly disputed elections of 2020 only brought that into sharper relief. Texas legislators are talking about secession, using the state’s inherent right to revoke the treaty which brought it into the Union in the first place. No other state has this option, and quite a few Constitutional scholars think Texas doesn’t, either. But that didn’t stop them in 1861, and it might not stop them 160 years later.

Another option

Let me preface all of this by saying that even the possibility of Texas leaving the US is very, very remote. Secessionists always speak up after an election. It’s just that they’re a lot more vocal now, for reasons which should be plain.

Especially in the so-called red states, like my own Tennessee, people are growing afraid. Afraid to speak their minds, afraid of losing their jobs, their culture, or their lives simply for having the “wrong” political opinion. That fear, if it remains at a high level, could lead to some drastic action.

But is there a better way? I think so.

A couple of months ago, after the affidavits, hidden-camera videos, and taped confessions began to come out, the state of Texas sued six other states. The rest of the US jumped in, all but Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Alaska (if I recall correctly) taking sides. Under the Constitution, only one court can hear a lawsuit where both parties are states: the Supreme Court.

That has been tried before. In the late 1800s, the states of Kentucky and West Virginia were drawn into the most famous blood feud in American history. A posse from Pike County, Kentucky, wanted to collect the reward on “Devil Anse” Hatfield (my third cousin, three times removed) and members of his family, all of whom were, at the time, living deep in the forested hills of West Virginia. Barely a generation removed from the Civil War, the issue of states’ rights was still fresh in the minds of those in power in either state. Anse’s brother happened to know the law well enough to use it against his family’s pursuers, and he had connections. In the new America of Reconstruction, he wanted to argue, were law enforcers from one state allowed into another, or did they need to contact their counterparts across the border? What about warrants? Rewards?

The feud was mostly resolved before the case could get anywhere, alas, but others have gone before the Supreme Court in the decades since. It’s not common; we get state-on-state action on average once every few years, and it’s usually for something trivial like where to draw a border.

And the Texas case wouldn’t get to change that, because the Court threw it on dubious grounds of a lack of standing. That was, in essence, the main problem of the election suits, a Catch-22 in the legal system. In almost every case, judges ruled that the plaintiffs’ arguments didn’t have merit because their objections should have been brought up before the election. Of course, those same judges would have thrown the cases out in October, too, this time saying that no harm had yet occurred. Honestly, it’s a clever way of punting.

But it means that we have an issue where some states are seeking redress from other states, and the only court with jurisdiction is refusing to hear any arguments. What to do? Secession looks more promising, given these legal hurdles, right?

I’d agree to that. However, I do think there’s room for a more amicable parting than what began at Fort Sumter. Following the best example of a national breakup I know (and the very familiar proclivities of my fellow Americans), I call this option the Shotgun Divorce.

He said, she said

Like any divorce, who gets what is one of the first things we have to consider. In this case, it’s somewhat simple. We want to peacefully divide the United States into two parts, loosely based on the majority political opinion. We can go by state for most of it.

  • One nation, call it the Republic of America (ROA), will be the “red” states of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, and Alaska. In addition, the supposedly blue states of Arizona and New Mexico are closer in culture and politics to nearby Texas, while the eastern half of Oregon is very unlike the socialist stronghold of Portland; a fringe movement to secede is gathering steam there, so we’ll allow it to join the ROA as the new state of Columbia. (I’d considered doing something similar in the Midwest, forming the state of Superior out of northern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.)

  • The other nation, which we’ll name the Democratic States of America (DSA), comprises California, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, western Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, and Hawaii.

The United States also has a number of outlying territories. With the exception of Puerto Rico, which is already on the path to statehood and would join the DSA, these can fall under joint rule for the time being. They include Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas Islands, the US Virgin Islands, and a few “Minor Outlying Islands” that barely have anyone living on them.

The District of Columbia is a special case for a few reasons. One, it’s the national capital, so awarding to it one party is almost like calling them superior. Two, it has a significant “civilian” population that is overwhelmingly Democratic, so not giving it to the DSA isn’t entirely fair. And three, the Constitution expressly prohibits making DC a state. This is a conundrum, and I think the best course of action is to declare the federally-owned parts of DC neutral territory, while reverting the rest of the District to Maryland.

This arrangement isn’t perfect by any means. The ROA has significantly more territory, though its not as densely populated as the DSA states. Those, however, are split in two: the West Coast is separated from the East Coast, Midwest, and New England. Maybe we could call that punishment for the jokes about flyover country? The only other option that comes to mind, short of a stretch along the northern or southern border, is three countries, but that seems too complex.

Dividing the spoils

Our fractured country is more than just land, though. A modern nation-state has a whole host of rights and responsibilities, along with interactions on the world stage. So we also have to look at how the Shotgun Divorce would affect these.

As we aren’t part of any super-national organizations like the EU, some of it is easy. We obviously need to convince other countries to accept the ROA and DSA as separate entities, but most would be ready to support one or the other, enough that we wouldn’t be left in limbo. Thus, we avoid the fate of Palestine, Catalonia, Tibet, East Turkestan, and Transnistria, all of which, despite fulfilling the basic requirements for nationhood, have their very existence questioned by world powers, and thus are relegated to a status best described as occupied by a foreign country.

Trade deals could be made with either party, or both, and many of the current treaties can remain in effect. The ROA and DSA could apply for individual status in the UN, WTO, and other global organizations. On the other hand, some might be unpalatable to one side: the ROA probably wouldn’t want membership in the WHO, for instance.

What happens to the USA’s current status would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis, I think. Things like our permanent seat on the UN Security Council are hard to reconcile with the breakup I’m describing.

And that leads me into one of the most important domestic matters. What happens to the US military? Other federal organizations (FBI, CIA, DOT, etc.) would split into two, one for each side, but the armed forces comprise such a large and important part of our nation’s budget and focus that we need to consider its fate carefully. The bases aren’t too hard: they go to whichever side they fall into. The personnel, on the other hand, may need some reassignment.

Freedom of choice

This can tie into the meat of my argument: freedom of choice. It’s not enough to divide the United States into two groups that aren’t quite as united. That doesn’t solve the problem. Red states still have significant populations of Democrats, progressives, and even socialists in their major cities. Rural parts of blue states are full of gun-toting, God-fearing Republicans. Simply cutting along the lines gives us more discontent.

Instead, the divorce agreement needs to include a provision for free movement. Obviously, this starts with semi-open borders: minimal checkpoints along the new boundary between ROA and DSA, with no passports needed to cross from one to the other, but some sort of ID required at the official border crossings. Both sides also have to allow immigration from their counterpart, and here’s the kicker. Not only do they allow it, but they pay for it to start.

For a period of one year, the respective governments of the new nations would provide for families who wish to move to the “other” side, paying at least part of the cost. This can come in the form of a stipend for moving expenses, a tax rebate given to those who plan to leave, or whatever else works. The key is that everyone is given the choice. They’re not rounded up and kicked out, nor are they forced to live under a political system they find repugnant.

Now, this doesn’t mean that there is entirely free movement between the ROA and DSA. If we did that, it’s all for naught. So there are some checks. For one, you must live and work in the same country. For another, dual citizenship isn’t allowed. If, for example, this red-blooded Tennessean wants to marry a woman from newly-Communist Virginia (I don’t, by the way; my future wife already lives in my home state), then one of us will have to change sides. I move to the DSA, or she comes to the ROA, but something has to give. In a very meta twist, divorce would have to allow us to regain citizenship in the original country of our birth.

The greater experiment

The Shotgun Divorce is just a thought experiment, really. It has almost zero chance of ever happening, especially in the way I’m describing it. But if it did, I believe it would be better for everyone involved. True, the road would be rocky at the start. The transition from one United States to two would cause headaches for everyone, and even some of the tiniest questions have no good answers. (Who’s allowed to have a .us domain? Does shipping from DSA Washington to ROA Texas count as international? And would the USPS have to deliver?)

The positive advantages of this sort of breakup are twofold. One, it devolves power: with approximately 50% of the country, mostly those politically opposed to you, out of your way, your vote counts for twice as much. That brings us closer to the ideals of the Founding Fathers, most notably government that stems from the consent of the governed. For four years, nearly half of Americans refused that consent; now, the situation’s the same, but it’s the other half denying the legitimacy of the administration. With two countries, two governments, two presidents, this problem goes away.

Does that solve all the problems? No. Does it create more? Most likely. But it would give us the chance to run a true Great Experiment, and that’s the second advantage of my proposal. We almost never have the opportunity to use scientific methods in social situations. This would be one such opportunity.

A proper experiment requires a control group. The ROA/DSA split provides it. No matter which side of the divide you find yourself on, you can look at your new country as the continuation of the USA, while the other is an experiment in governing the way your enemies want. And maybe their way is better. Maybe your side will falter, while theirs enters a new golden age. Or maybe it’ll be the other way around.

We won’t know until we try.

The merchants of despair

I am a humanist.

I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating. Now, most people who call themselves humanists do so out of a kind of rebellious nature. They’re agnostics or atheists who disapprove of such labels for whatever reason. Worse, too many tend to be the “militant” sort of atheist who hold their lack of belief with the same dogmatic zeal as the most fundamentalist Christian or Muslim.

I’m not like that at all. Instead, I see humanism as a celebration of humanity and its accomplishments, as well as a belief in its capability for good. We can achieve great things. We have. History is full of human milestones. We’re the only species on Earth (and, as far as we know, in the universe) to domesticate plants and animals, use spoken and written language, harness the power of fire, work metals, build cities, travel to the moon, cure diseases, split the atom, and a thousand other things. Above all, however, we introspect. We philosophize. We are aware of ourselves in a way no other creature has the capability of being.

That’s beautiful, in my opinion. The creations of man, whether mental, physical, or indeed spiritual, are beautiful. While we have made some awful mistakes and inventions, progress is, on the whole, a good thing for everyone involved. The rapid explosion of progress since the two most pivotal eras in history, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, has given us much to be thankful for. We live longer, healthier lives than our ancestors. We have more material wealth. We understand the world far better than they could hope.

Some people don’t like that, and I honestly can’t understand why. Why are they so dead set on keeping us poor, sick, ignorant, and isolated? A thirst for power explains a lot of irrational behavior, yes, but naked displays of dominance aren’t usually so…insidious. In 2020 alone, we have seen countless examples of human beings arguing for their own extinction, a position not only evolutionarily suspect but morally bankrupt. Yet this position finds backing in the media, on campus, and even in scientific papers. Why? Is there some kind of secret death cult out there?

Until a couple of weeks ago, I would have dismissed that notion as a conspiracy theory on the same level as the Illuminati and Pizzagate. But then I read a book that made everything click.

Humanity’s enemy

Robert Zubrin is best known for his advocacy, often to the point of mania, of manned Mars missions. For over 30 years, he has led the charge in fighting for a permanent human presence on the Red Planet as soon as possible. Growing up, I heard his name on numerous space documentaries, and I still see interviews he has given on the subject. (The series Mars is one example.)

He has other writings, though. In 2011, he published Merchants of Despair, in which he describes an “antihuman” movement that, according to his theory, has been operating for nearly two centuries with the express goal of controlling population by subverting progress.

Numerous examples show the antihumanists in action. Most are concerned with eugenics, the hateful policy of forced sterilization, abortion, and contraception for a specific set of undesirables: blacks, Jews, Indians, Uighurs, the mentally disabled, etc. The targets change depending on who’s doing the extermination, but the principle remains the same. If we don’t stop “those people” from reproducing, eugenicists claim, they’ll overrun us good and pure folk and drag us down to their level. Obviously, any sensible, rational person would reject such notions, but most people are neither rational nor sensible. Thus, population control movements have grown over the past 200 years.

It began with Malthus, who argued incorrectly that the Earth was running out of land for food, and severe measures to curb population growth had to be implemented right now in order to save our race from extinction. His theory was so wildly inaccurate that it couldn’t even predict past resource use, but he had friends and believers in high places. Malthusian principles created the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s, then racked up an even greater death toll in 1870s India. In both cases, the country in question was a net exporter of food at the time, yet the British government forced residents to starve in order prevent some mythical calamity.

Fast forward to the 1930s, and we know what happened. The Nazis were the gold standard for eugenics, raising genocidal population control to an art form. Following the same principles as Malthus, Hitler argued that Germany would eventually be too crowded to feed itself. But now there was an added wrinkle, because science could “prove” that some races were more degenerate than others. And wouldn’t you know it, but Hitler’s enemies just happened to number among them!

Before the true horrors of the Holocaust were revealed—or even started, for that matter—many Americans were wholeheartedly in favor. Herbert Hoover attended the Second International Congress of Eugenics in 1921, seven years before he would be elected President of the United States and plunge our country into the Great Depression. J. P. Morgan was there, too. Representing the British (45 years after the India debacle, mind you) was Charles Darwin’s own son.

That was before World War II. With the end of the war, the opening of the death camps, and the subsequent Nuremberg trials, the whole world got to see what eugenics really looked like. So you’d think that would be the end of it, right?


Now, instead of open calls for extermination, those advocating population control became more subtle in their efforts. The best way to stop overpopulation, they decided, wasn’t to kill people who were already here, but to stop them from being born in the first place. Thanks to some politicking from such notables as Robert McNamara, forced sterilization became a condition of US foreign aid to Third World countries. Doing it at home (mostly for criminals and mental patients) was legal until the 1970s. The entire Vietnam War can be seen as a eugenics experiment, as those in power took the slogan “Better Dead Than Red” literally.

Abortion as a political and population-control tool also sees its birth in this era. Planned Parenthood formed out of the eugenics movement, and its original goal of choice carefully neglected the possibility of choosing to have children. Around the same time, one Communist Party official in China read up on these efforts and got the great idea of limiting all families in his country to one child each. Never mind the disastrous consequences for the fabric of society. Isn’t running out of food worse?

Yet the biggest crime to lay at the feet of the antihumanists is, in my opinion, environmentalism. In the past decade, and especially in the past four years, we’ve seen more radical forms of the Green movement grow like a cancer in our society, but they were there from the start. The Sierra Club has deep ties to eugenics, for instance.


Here’s where it gets interesting. And evil, in my opinion.

We’ve all seen it this year. “Nature is healing,” they say, as they show weeds growing through cracks in concrete or wild animals overrunning a city street. “We are the virus,” they claim, often adding that the Wuhan coronavirus (most likely created in a Chinese lab, so not natural at all) is some kind of divine wrath for our excesses. How a virus with a fatality rate of around 0.1% is supposed to be apocalyptic is beyond me, but you can’t expect logical consistency from some people.

Such extreme environmentalism has been around for over half a century, and Zubrin argues that it shows a more modern form of antihumanism. Instead of calling for deaths or preventing births, green eugenicists want to use economic and government pressure to make having children financially unbearable. To do this, they have blocked the progress of technologies, inventions, and medicines that save lives. We must not help people, they argue, because then those people will breed. Better if they die sick and miserable than be fruitful and multiply.

DDT was the first casualty, according to Zubrin. The endless campaigning against nuclear power is another front in this fight. Though he was writing with incomplete information, he even targets global warming, and here is where the last piece fell into place for me.

We know that the fears of global warming are overrated. Even top climate activists such as Michael Shellenberger (Apocalypse Never) admit this. Current climate trends are well within the limits of human civilization. Sea levels aren’t rising rapidly; the Maldives archipelago, to take one example, was supposed to be completely underwater by 2018, but they’ve now announced that they’re building new airports in anticipation of heavier tourism. Add in the work done by sleuths such as Tony Heller, who illustrate how temperature records are being manipulated to claim accelerated warming, and you get the feeling that somebody somewhere isn’t telling the whole truth.

Earth isn’t going to become a second Venus because we drive too much. In fact, as Zubrin illustrated nine years ago, the slight overall warming predicted through the 21st century is actually beneficial. It increases arable land, and actual climate shifts may open up even more. We’re seeing that today, with record crop yields all over North America.

Those who fail to learn from history will find that it repeats itself. 2020 America is in real danger of turning into a mirror of 1845 Ireland. We have plenty of food. We have plenty of jobs. We have plenty of toilet paper. Yet government control and overblown fears are preventing us from using these resources properly. They’re just saying it’s because of a virus instead of overpopulation by “inferior” races. That’s all.

But the result is the same. Lives are being lost. Not to starvation, as then, but to other preventable factors. Suicidal depression, of course, is one I’m intimately familiar with. Yet we also need to look at the back side of population control. How many children weren’t born because of lockdown restrictions? How many couples didn’t get a chance to meet because they were under effective house arrest? How many relationships ended (or are on the verge of ending, or never really got going in the first place) due to the loss of a job or the failure to find one?

Whatever that number is, it’s not zero. I know for a fact.

Humanity’s hope

That’s why I’m a humanist. I see these problems in the world, and I realize how many of them are of our own making. Worse yet, they’re easily fixed. We have the means to give food to everyone on Earth. We have ways of making power literally too cheap to meter. There is more than enough wealth to go around.

We shouldn’t have to force women into tubal ligation surgery out of some fear that they’ll have too many kids. We shouldn’t distribute condoms as business cards or demand IUD implants as conditions for government aid.

We shouldn’t claim that a one-degree change in temperature is going to wipe out all life on Earth. We shouldn’t argue that the cleanest, safest form of energy production we have is actually nothing more than a way to make bombs. We shouldn’t pack millions of people into unsanitary cities, then deny them treatment for the diseases that inevitably occur.

We can be better, but only if we embrace progress. Not progressivism, but progress itself, the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment which state that, as man is the only animal with the capability for reason, it stands to us to use that reason to shape the world, and society, in a positive way.

To do otherwise is to advocate for death on an unimaginable scale. Earth’s population is roughly 7.7 billion at present. With our current technology, we can easily feed, house, and care for at least twice that. But the goals of the environmentalists, the globalists, and others who, I now see, have been aligned with the idea of eugenics all this time, are to reduce our numbers to pre-Industrial levels. The problem with that is simple to recognize: technology allows our carrying capacity to increase. By banning those advances which produce more food or lead to longer, healthier lives, that capacity drops precipitously.

They would kill not the six million of Nazi fame, but over six billion. Some claim the goal is inscribed on the monument known as the Georgia Guidestones: a population not to exceed 500 million. Think about that. To reach that figure, we would first have to let over 90% of the world die. Then, those who survive would be forcibly limited to replacement-level reproduction. How many children would never be born in such a world? How many artists, statesmen, inventors, scientists, friends, and lovers would never take their first breath?

These are our enemies. They must be, for those who value life must always stand against those who preach only death.

Now I understand the cult-like behavior I see so often in the world. It really is a cult. It’s a cult of despair, destruction, and death. Looked at in that light, the lockdowns, the Great Reset, Chinese propaganda, Antifa, global warming fearmongers, and so many other things make sense. They all share one thing in common: they’re antihuman.

Hope vs. fear

As I’ve often said, I don’t like putting politics on PPC. I’ve done it before, of course, but I don’t like to make a habit of it. Tonight, however, I think it’s necessary. We’re about 24 hours removed from the polls closing on the most tumultuous election in recent memory.

This was a race between hope and fear.

I’m a libertarian. I’ve said that enough before. I consider myself a strict constitutionalist, and I try to justify all my stances by referring to our nation’s founding documents. My vociferous objection to mask mandates and other measures taken in the (IMO, misguided) battle against the Wuhan coronavirus boil down to that: they’re unconstitutional on their face. Bans on public gatherings are in direct conflict with the First Amendment’s right of assembly. Contact tracing is a violation of the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable, warrantless searches. And so on.

That said, although I did not vote for him, I spent last night wanting Donald Trump to win. A direct about-face from my stance 4 years ago, yes, and for the same reason I opposed him then: I’m concerned about American civil liberties. As our national political game has become a team sport, where one must choose Team Red or Team Blue, I could only choose Red.

Why? Because the Republicans, no matter how awful I find some of their beliefs, ran on a campaign of hope. We can be better, they say. Don’t be afraid, don’t cower in your basement. On the other side, the Democrats’ message was all about fear. We have to be scared of the virus with a 99.87% survival rate. We have to hide away until every last vestige of freedom has been smothered.

Worse, though, is the way some Democrats seemed to glorify division. That’s not to say Republicans were triumphing unity, mind you, but when one side is saying that I should be ashamed of who I am, what I stand for, because of things I can’t change (my race, my sex, etc.), and the other tells me that we should all have the same opportunity no matter who we are, well, my choice is clear. Even if that other side’s promises are hollow, why would I want to support those who hate me by default?

Xenophobia is real. It has many guises: racism, sexism, classism, attacks based on religion or disability or a thousand other things. We, as humans, are naturally xenophobic to some degree. It’s what keeps us alive. Without some concept of us versus them, we couldn’t form the social bonds necessary to create civilization. The excesses are horrible, true, but we should treat them like the outliers they are.

And we should strive to be better. Always. As people, as a people.

We, as humans, can rise above our petty differences. We’ve put men on the moon, we’ve harnessed the power of the atom, we’ve created a world our ancestors would call nothing short of magical. We didn’t do all those things because we were afraid. Far from it. And the challenges of the future will fall to us if we’re hopeful. Men on Mars. New cures for diseases. Fusion power. Geo-engineering. We can achieve great things if we work together.

But too many people would rather be afraid. They would rather hide away from the danger, the risk, associated with any great endeavor. What if someone dies? What if we can’t do it? What if it the cost is too great?

For two years now, I’ve been trying to pull myself out of the wreckage that is my life. I’ve been trying to get a job, find true love, start a family…in short, be a man. And I’ve suffered a lot of setbacks in that span, a lot of failures. I’ve risked my mental health in multiple ways. I’ve been severely depressed, or so consumed by anxiety that I can’t even type for my hands shaking. I’ve been on the verge of suicide, ready to grab the nearest gun and pull the trigger. And I got back up. I tried again.

At this point, even I’m not sure why I keep going. It’s not faith, because the past day has shown me how much of my faith in humanity has been misplaced. But the other two virtues, hope and love, still somehow burn within. Oh, they’re flickering, sputtering flames. I won’t deny that. They’re apt to go out at any time. They have before.

I love my family. I love the one I so desperately wish I could add to that family. And, to bring this back on topic, I love my country. I’m a patriot, in the classical sense of the word. The ideals of America, the self-evident truths upon which our nation was founded, are ideals I share. All men are created equal. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights. Government should fear the people, not the other way around.

That never changes, no matter who is in power. Any party must hold to these ideals, or they no longer represent this country. They no longer represent me.

America is not a nation of cowards. We didn’t meekly surrender to the redcoats, the Nazis, or the Soviets. We fought for what we believe in. In some cases, we fought a lost cause: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. And those were, in large measure, political struggles.

In our darkest hours, though, we fought on because of hope. And we see that tonight. While one side claims a very dubious victory in favor of fear, the other keeps hope alive. Truthfully or not, they believe that freedom itself is at stake.

We’ve survived worse times in the past. If we’re on the road to a second Civil War, as some claim, that would indeed match the lowest point of American history. It would be bad for everyone, but we would emerge stronger, more unified.

As for me, I don’t know. This week has taken a lot out of me. That’s why I didn’t do any Nanowrimo writing today. I just couldn’t. But I think I’m done with national politics. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the people’s voice is shouting into the abyss. Until we, as Jefferson put it, water the Tree of Liberty, it’ll stay that way. We’re pawns in a bigger game, crossing our fingers that we don’t get captured.

We hope. That’s what human beings do.