Because I am unorganized and self-indulgent, I have 3 things I want to rant about today. They are connected. I promise. I will make my best effort to connect them at the end of this rant, anyway.
(1) Amnesty International Day
“Amnesty International Day takes place on May 28, because it was on that day in 1961 when lawyer Peter Benenson published “The Forgotten Prisoners” in The Observer, which was then reprinted around the world. In it, he referenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular, articles 18 and 19, which deal with freedoms of thought and expression. He also announced an amnesty campaign called “Appeal for Amnesty.” Amnesty International was founded in London that same year, largely by the efforts of Peter Benenson. That is where it is still headquartered, but today there are offices in over 50 countries. Three million people are now affiliated with the group, in more than 150 countries and territories.”
Here’s a little more info on Articles 18 and 19: (http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/)
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
See, I’m capable of being positive. For a second.
(2) Memorial Day
Today is Memorial Day in the USA. It’s a perfectly decent thing to honor the people who have died in active military service. Like funerals, I don’t think it does much for the dead people. It’s clearly to make the living people think they are doing a good thing or it makes them feel good to remember their loved ones. Losing someone you love is terrible. So I say do whatever the fuck you can to alleviate that pain.
I can’t leave stop there. I’m a cynical, contrarian asshole. What did you expect?
I think the best way to honor dead service people would be to try and make sure there are no more people dying during military service. I would say dying during war but the USA has not officially declared war since World War II. I don’t think that distinction really matters much to all the people who died in the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq Part 1, Iraq Part Current, and Afghanistan (and the other countless invasions or covert actions that have occurred and are occurring all over the globe).
How does that happen? I don’t know. It’s a really complicated question. Does an entity, the USA for example, have a moral obligation to intervene and help another entity who is being trod upon by a superior military force? That doesn’t have an easy answer, either. The more I try to answer the first question, the more questions arise.
But then I go back to one of my core values. Even an asshole like me has values. Sometimes. I’m a big fan of the first line of the Hippocratic oath: do no harm. It’s my litmus test for any organized body. Religions usually fail it. Corporations usually fail it. Governments usually fail it. War always fails it. Even “good” wars. The last “good war” according to most folks is WWII (I’ let the Korean War slide, too). Estimates of civilian fatalities during WWII is between 55-85 million people. I’m not saying the world should have not stepped to Hirohito and Hitler. I’m just saying a lot of harm was done.
So is it worth killing civilians to, let’s say, break up a child slavery ring? I don’t know. Doesn’t seem to be the best solution to me. But maybe in this fucked up world full of human beings (and there is no more fucked up actor than them), it’s all we got.
I don’t have much of a point other than maybe until we think of a better solution, let’s stop filling up Arlington Cemetery. It’s filling up after all (literally).
(3) Social Media
In the last 30 hours, I’ve violated my main rule for dealing with social media: never get into arguments. I believe what I believe. I post or tweet or blog what I believe. I have zero interest in convincing someone to believe what I believe. Having been raised Republican, Catholic, and socially conservative, I am intimately familiar with the opposing viewpoint; the ignorant, malevolent, dark evil viewpoint. They have no arguments I have not heard. I have nothing to learn from them.
But I erred. I posted a cartoon mocking an opposing viewpoint. And a “friend” popped up and complained. Generally, like I said, I ignore them. But it was such an asinine, ignorant statement that I could not resist putting them in their place. But presenting facts and logic to a conservative person is about as useful as trying to teach metaphysics to a dog. They don’t understand or they are unwilling to admit they do. He even fell back on that Trumpian chestnut “fake news”. When they’re cornered by fact, it’s their lifeline. They are the refuse of American society. Humans are by and large repugnant and they are by and large the worst of this foul species. So I quickly blocked him and I hope not to hear from him again. Conservatives have a LOT of anger in them (even more than liberals which is saying a LOT). But I’m fairly certain in the cavernous empty space in his mind where empathy and intelligence might usually be, he believes, with all of his selfish heart, that I’m the bad actor in the exchange and that his illogic won the day. I don’t have time for that kind of person in any part of my life. Especially not in my social media, which is exclusively for my entertainment. If it does not entertain me or interest me, I excise it, like the tumor that it is.
Another friend posted a position I did not agree with but it wasn’t the typical conservative screed (it actually had some logic and fairness and intelligence and empathy in it: these values are anathema to conservatives). And I’m still in contact with this friend. I know he’s a good person. He has opinions that don’t jibe with mine but I know he has empathy and a true heart. That’s good enough for me.
But it isn’t just about me and him. He has friends. And he has conservative friends. And they are what they are. And they made their usual ignorant comments so as usual, I excised them. But now my friend is leaving social media (for the umpteenth time) and it’s disappointing because, as I’ve just said, he’s a bright person who is passionate and decent and fair and that is both entertaining and interesting to me. But what can you do? I certainly can’t blame him for leaving again. I told him point blank that life is too damn short to voluntarily engage in something that makes you cringe.
Social media, the right (including the lemmings that suck the cock of current conservative ideology – not that there’s anything wrong with sucking cock – just using the metaphor to illustrate the subservient relationship), and formerly universally non controversial National moments have revealed (or just confirmed in my opinion) the true nature of humanity.
Everyone is terrible. To some extent. https://sharkwrighter.com/2018/04/26/the-terribleness-spectrum/
And almost everyone says social media is this horrible new thing making people even more terrible than ever before. What a load of horseshit. Prehistoric tribes sacrificed children https://www.livescience.com/59514-cultures-that-practiced-human-sacrifice.html). The general consensus among biblical historians is that the book of Ecclesiastes was written between the 3rd and 4th century. One of its most famous lines is “There is nothing new under the sun. Oh yeah. I’m pretty sure Hitler didn’t have internet access either. The bemoaning of social media is just proof of humanity’s myopic historical perspective.
I’m glad for social media, personally. I like to know people really feel. I also like to stay home in my sweat pants. The internet checks off both of those boxes for me.
Make no mistake: There is no such thing as too much information.
I can see how marginalized populations don’t like the modern conservative ascendancy (Trump and those who made him possible and those who he has made possible) and the succor it gives to the worst of Americans. It is undoubtedly disheartening to most people who believe the human race is good at its core. But once you disabuse yourself of that notion, you just shrug your shoulders, watch your back, trust no one, and you’ll never be disappointed. And best yet! When a human acts contrary to their ancient inclination and is kind, enjoy it. It may never happen again.
It’s not the best life. But it’s the most realistic one.