Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Making Today Easier for Future Historians

This doesn’t have much to do with running but I am posting it here as I need to put it down somewhere.

I was a History major in college. One of the main reasons I chose that route of study came from the fact that I have always been obsessed with simply knowing “stuff.”  I want to know why things happened, how they work, and what may occur next. Growing up, if I wanted to know something, my father would tell me to look it up. While I grew up relatively poor we still had three sets of encyclopedias in our home. Funk & Wagnalls, Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book – the latter I received from my elementary school in some sort of giveaway. My principal (who was actually sort of an ass and if alive no doubt voted for Trump) knew that of all the kids in the school, I would apparently use it the most. He was right. I read volumes like novels. Ci-Cz tonight, for the win!

When the internet became a “thing”, I was astounded.  No longer would I need to go to the library or dredge through volumes to find information. I still, at 40, spend hours just looking up "things." .Meet a person from a town I have never heard of?  I look it up. Two hours later I am 14 degrees of separation away reading about the Smoot Hawley-Tariff Act. When people say “You know, I’ve always wondered…”  I want to scream “In your hand you hold a device which can access ever bit of knowable knowledge.  LOOK IT UP!”

When I was younger, looking back through time I would often laugh at the things which weren’t known by people. Ha ha, how could you not know the world was round?  Tee hee – they really thought that a sub-4 mile would kill you!  Oh my!  They think that women’s running would make their uterus fall out! Those simpletons!  As time passed and I got past the arrogance of living in the now,  I realized while some of those “facts” might have been what some people thought, it was clear that it was not prevailing amongst most. For example, I learned doing research for a book that virtually no one of any actual intelligence thought running a sub-4 mile would kill anyone.  Or that women were in danger of losing anything if they ran. Instead, it was easier to just assume this and look back at people in the past and think “Silly cretins. We are sooooo much smarter now!”

With the advances that the country has made in the past few decades with regards to equality of genders and acceptance/understanding of race, sexuality, and so much more, we still saw pushback.  We saw those relying on religion as a reason why stem cell research could not progress. People with zero knowledge of how things work could start an army of misinformation as long as they called themselves the “Food Babe” or something else catchy. The willfully ignorant, or the purposefully corrupt, and their duped followers held back progress in science, society, and everything in between.  But we now had a record showing that while the fringe still denied climate change, or linked vaccines to autism, or thought one race was superior to others, the majority was in control and would tamp down the insanity. We had the right system and the correct amount of intelligence to stave off any major ludicrousness.

Then Trump got 62 million people to vote for him. 

Suddenly, I felt like we were before the discovery of electricity. We were in the Salem witchcraft trials. We were in Spain before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Undoubtedly, in all of those times, there were people who knew electricity existed but couldn’t harness it.  Or that there were no witches. Or that the Earth wasn’t flat. But they were drowned out by shouting hordes.

What’s my point? I am not sure. I guess I am just hoping that in 50 years, when the history books look back, they will see this entire Trump thing as a blip of minor craziness. When you don’t have to live through it day to day, it is almost unnoticeable.  Even a few years of something bad, in the grand scheme of history, is easy to overlook or not see as something which shook those who lived in it to their very core. You see, those in that time don’t know when the crazy will end.  As such, each day seems like an eternity. For example, the Civil Rights movement, so recent that many of the people who participated in it are still active in government, sometimes can feel like ancient history. We like to think we made it through the darkest of times and are moving forward, albeit not as fast as we would like. Gay rights have moved at a rapid pace in the past two decades. Transgendered issues can actually be spoken about in mixed company. Gender roles, race relations, and so much more is on the table. So much good had happened so fast that it felt like those who fought against it would be pushed aside into the dustbin of history, to be laughed at as fools who couldn’t see how wrong they were.

But we didn’t elect our first female president. We elected an absolute and utter charlatan of a buffoon who has duped millions into thinking he is for them. For the first time in my life, it no longer felt like the country was moving forward. In fact, t doesn’t even feel like a stutter step to the side.  Instead, it feels like massive, Nestea-plunge backward into a muck-filled cesspool of ignorance and hate.  I am embarrassed to be alive during this time. It sickens me that after so much progress, I live in a country where, inevitably, a few decades from now, people will be sniggering at our stupidity in putting a sociopathic, womanizing, petty, small, insipid, crapweasel into the most powerful position in the world.
This utter piece of crap is going to be our President. 

What. In. The. F*ck?!

He won’t stay there. He can’t. I will be shocked if it makes it through a year. He will either resign or be impeached. He is too maniacally narcissistic to think he has to change any single thing about himself. As such, he will mess up “bigly” and it will cost him. Yes, Mike Pence is nearly as deplorable and Paul Ryan isn’t far behind.  Don’t get me started on Ted Cruz.  But all of these vile humans at least try to stick to decorum and rules. They can be shamed. They are fearful of losing their jobs and will not just piss all over Russian hookers the Constitution without fear of reprisal.

Instead of being an embarrassment, I hope this is seen as the time that those on the right side of history rose up, became ever vigilant, and used this unbelievable circus as the cannon fodder which propelled us forward in huge leaps and bounds. Campaign finance reform, wage inequality, equal rights in marriage, oversight into our government, healthcare, and so much more will hopefully be eons ahead of where they would have been if we had not lost our freaking minds and given a reality show festering boil the nuclear codes.

Benjamin Franklin said "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." While right wing morons call those of us abhorred by Trump and his tactics "snowflakes" I continually come back to this phrase. Compassion and caring for those who are not you shows you can look outside the shell of just your own existence. When I became outraged by what was happening in the election, I pointed out that *I* was fine. I am a straight, white male.  The only thing I am missing from being perfectly safe from everything is to be rich. I am not appalled by what may happen in the future because I fear for me. I fear for all those who are not me. Those with more melanin in their skin. Those with a uterus. Those who are not in power.
So if this is what makes me a snowflake, so be it. But just like those of us who thought the weak minded, or racist, or homophobic, or sexist could not be united into one front to put an orange huckster into office and were wrong, snowflakes can assemble as well. In fact, many snowflakes eventually can create an avalanche. 

I guess it is time to race down that mountain.

As an addendum: I wrote this a few days before the Inauguration and then the subsequent Women's marches across the globe.  I think it is safe to say that people in the future will understand where the rationale, caring, and  non-hate mongering people stood.  And by future, I mean within the next year when Trump resigns or gets impeached.

Addendum Part Deux: When Trump created his Muslim Ban, the reaction of people across the nation refusing to accept it only emboldened my feelings. I have a feeling I will be addenduming this weekly.

Addendum Three (02.17.17): Barely a day passes before a new horrible aspect of Trump emerges and shows he is not fit to run a mile, let alone a country. Flynn's resignation, obvious connections to Russia which will all come out in time, and rambling, incohesive statements showing he has barely a fourth-grade understanding of civics, our three-tiered government, or virtually anything else means this man will resign or be impeached before the end of the summer.

Addendum Four (05.04.17): And now the AHCA. Millenial girls, I get it: I just can't even.

Addendum Five (05.17.07): The end is nigh with the Comey firing, Yates testifying and so much happening each day.  Trump will not make it three more months.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. It's great to read the words of a kindred spirit. Although I can't say I've ever read through an entire encyclopedia, I also feel the need to keep learning and to keep looking things up. They call us the "liberal elite" because we are smarter and better educated and able to think for ourselves – all traits that they lack. The people who voted for Trump are either stupid, gullible, or so full of hate that they want a man like trump to fulfill their racist, homophobic, and conspiracy-theory fueled fantasies. They just don't see reality. How horrible is it that we have to live among people like this!

Anyway, don't stay quiet and don't let the trolls get you down

Unknown said...

You are on the right side of history and so I'm on my friend. The fact that NPR held a best martini ever competition and the gin and tonic won the competition, kind of explains how I feel about the election process now. The manipulation of information and people that has been ushered in by the internet has been mastered by all thugs smart enough to have foresight. Political parties do not work for representation of people in a society where everyone can voice their opinion and have it be counted instantaneously. Are archaic system of a representer is going to look out for my best interest is monumentally stifling and makes all of us childlike from birth to death. Keep up the good fight man keep up running. This Kicking and Screaming attempt of our irresponsible and selfish baby boomers to take care of themselves is backfiring on them and my hope is that this history will not repeat itself. Our old system of government should die. Estonia has it going on. I'd like to connect with you on Twitter.