Spoiler warning: Though it has been about a month since Stormblood’s release, it feels prudent to place this here….just in case someone reads it.
It actually took a long time for me to warm up to Final Fantasy XIV. It’s not that I thought the game particularly bad at the outset (around 2.1), only that it didn’t capture my imagination. It was the music that turned the game from something of a slog to a joy. Sure, I had enjoyed music in the game prior, but it was the introduction of “Tricksome” for The Wanderer’s Palace HM that triggered something in me.
This was followed by the phenomenal soundtrack for Heavensward, which prompted me to start a playlist of my favorite tracks from the game (many thanks to Mekkah Dee for these uploads). Now, with the release of Stormblood, there’s a whole new soundtrack to enjoy.
The first major settlement the player reaches after entering Gyr Abania, the Reach is the home of the Ala Mhigan Resistance. For an organization that has only met with minimal success after two decades of occupation, I must admit that the theme is far more upbeat than anticipated. On the other hand, it instills the player with hope; great change is coming to Eorzea and we are at the forefront. One cannot help but be encouraged listening to this.
Before we can liberate Ala Mhigo, however, we first travel east, to distant Othard, to help our longtime ally and friend Yugiri liberate the nation of Doma. A good deal of the music in the east, from Kugane to the Azim, has an exotic feel to it, clearly inspired by the cultures of the orient. However, the theme that most drew me was that of Yanxia’s nighttime theme. A slow, somber piano piece, it almost feels a more fitting theme than the normal daytime theme. The people of Doma have lost much in the quarter century of Garlean rule, a feeling far better reflected in the night. Yet even amid the ruins of a nation, the music carries with it a hopeful air.
While I am skipping ahead a bit to cover this one, I prefer the final two tracks of this group where they are. The Temple of the Fist is the former home of the Fist of Rhalgr, the order to which the Monks of Ala Mhigo (and, by extension, any Monk players) belong. If there’s any word that describes this theme, it is adventurous. It’s the sort of music that belongs to a temple hidden deep in a vast wilderness, where adventurers brave many great perils to reach it and the treasures hidden inside.
Actually, leaving aside the matter of Rhalgr’s Reach just below, that is precisely what the temple is. It is a theme that carries a feeling perfectly.
The liberation of Doma finally brings the player back to the Ala Mhigan front, where the Eorzean Alliance takes advantage of the Empire’s divided attention to strike straight for the city itself. At the very gates, we are greeted with this militaristic theme. Looming before the gathered forces of five nations, the imposing silhouette of the most impressive city state in the realm (at least to me). After a long journey fraught with peril and hard-fought battles, the end is in sight as we fight for the future of….
Twenty years: that’s how long the Empire has occupied this part of Eorzea. How long it has been since people like those of Little Ala Mhigo fled from the invaders. Since the Empire erected Baelsar’s Wall, hiding its deeds from the world to the west. Twenty long years since a proud people were laid low by the mightiest nation in the known world.
I wish that I didn’t feel compelled to write this, but after nearly 37 years on this Earth I still feel like a bit of an outcast because of who I am.
I am an introvert.
There are already a lot of people who have discounted this post out of hand because they see introversion as an “internet fad” that people use to feel special. There may be some people who do use this personality type and the online communities dedicated to it as a mask or an outlet. People are complex creatures and they sometimes do confusing or unreasonable things. However, I can attest to the fact that introversion is very real, and I know that we move more freely and comfortably online and it is therefore no surprise that we have found forums in which to congregate and commiserate about how we feel, how we function, and how we are still so misunderstood.
There aren’t many people who truly understand me as a person, or why I do (or don’t do) certain things. I was trying to explain to my children just this morning why I am so exhausted after a weekend that was not terribly physically demanding. It wasn’t the work I had to do that wore me out, it was the fact that my plans, throughout the week, have had to change almost daily, and I have had more interaction than usual with other people, and when I made plans to do nothing (specifically to do nothing) on my day off, I was instead asked to do work things and family things and school club things.
It isn’t that I dislike my job, or don’t get on well with my family, or that I’m depressed (introverts are often assumed to be depressed misandrists); rather, I just require time to recharge from the demands of servicing the needs of other people. Even conversation, however mundane, is a need most people have (hermit exemption applies), and it is not something that we can accomplish by ourselves. Therefore, conversation is an activity that you require someone else to participate in.
The conversation that most people expect just on a daily basis (the chatty woman in the bread aisle, the cashier asking about your shopping experience, the relative who calls with a question, the kids asking if they can go somewhere or do something) can already be taxing for an introvert, but add to that the extra demands of work, special requests of family, needs of friends, and any unexpected changes to your schedule and suddenly you have someone who is already feeling the tank run low but they have no idea when they’ll be able to refill it. You know that feeling… the feeling of anxiety and even panic when the fuel gauge of your car is dipping toward the red, and there are no gas stations in sight, and you’re on an unfamiliar road? That’s an introvert when they have had to deal with people and change and do not know when they’ll be able to enjoy their solitude long enough to recharge. We can usually calm down when we have a dedicated period set aside for doing nothing (which to us is everything – although many people see reading, meditating, or watching a favorite show as merely nothing). We may be puttering along, low on energy, but just knowing we’ll refuel soon is comforting: it’s the uncertainty that really wears on us.
To be clear, I love my family and I like my job. I adore my kids and encourage them to participate in activities that help them develop physically and mentally as individuals. I just need to spend time in peace and quiet in order to give the best of myself to them. The need for solitude, and the importance of self-care, is not a malicious or even passive selfishness. You cannot attend to the needs of others efficiently if your own state is precarious. It is no more selfish to assure you are psychologically prepared to handle your responsibilities than it is to insure you are physically capable of doing a task. It is prudent.
So many people see this need for solitude as shyness, or melancholy, or even arrogance. This is why we have our online forums and communities. This is why we write blogs. It’s not that we’re super impressed with ourselves for being “different”. It’s not that we want to be noticed and celebrated. We simply want to be understood. We want to exist without constantly being told we’re broken or that we need to change. Just because we enjoy solitude, and are often quiet in crowds, does not mean that we’re suffering from depression or shyness. It simply means we are observing and are content to interact on our terms. Not everyone wants to speak every thought. Not everyone needs to weigh in on every conversation. We aren’t “too good” to participate, we simply prefer to participate on our terms, in our time. We like to watch and listen and think. We are content with our own company. None of this means that we don’t like to go out and do things, or that we never want to talk. Introverts simply do not feel the need to do those things as strongly as other people do. When we are recharged and ready to participate in activities with other people, we’re a bit like a butterfly breaking free of a cocoon, vibrant and animated! We definitely require our quiet cocoon first, however.
Recently there was a concert listing game making the rounds on Facebook, and it reminded me how very unlike other people I am. There are several reasons why I haven’t attended concerts (money, time, desire), and I am not opposed to the idea of it, but I do not see concert-going as the pinnacle of fun. As a matter of fact, I simply don’t get worked up about music in general. This has earned me censure and a good deal of shocked disbelief over the years. I’ve had people insist that if I’d only listen to this, or try that, or “get out of the house,” I’d suddenly love it. Even if I do enjoy music I hadn’t heard before, I rarely enjoy anything that is blasted at full volume over a crowd of cheering strangers.
It’s not that I don’t like music, and even love some of it, it’s just that I really like silence. I enjoy walking outside without earbuds blasting notes and lyrics into my head, because I like the sound of birdsong and wind-rustled leaves and dogs barking in the distance. I like to hear gravel crunch under my feet. I despise, with a burning passion, unnecessary noise. I hate chatter that simply fills a silence. I bless the silence! I like to drive with the radio off. I like to clean with only the sounds of the fan running and the gentle swish of cleaner being sprayed. I just like hearing the world around me without blasting noise into it every second of the day and night.
There are, of course, times when I want to listen to music, and usually then a very specific kind of music or artist. I do enjoy it! It’s just not something I need to hear every day. Like a book that I can still envision in my mind, music plays in the background of my thoughts even when the world around me is silent. This is perhaps the most commonly expressed aspect of introversion – the “rich inner world”. It’s not that we despise the outside world and all its offerings, but that we can (and do) savor the things we experience beyond their actual duration. It’s often because we are savoring something in our thought and memory (or working out a problem, or pondering new information) that having anything intrude on that can be unpleasant and tiring. Imagine giving a presentation and being constantly interrupted with questions and demands that are largely irrelevant to the topic at hand; that is what it feels like to have the mind of an introvert.
I would dearly love it if I could fall into the blissful embrace of solitude, or sit silently pondering many things, without someone mistakenly assuming that I’m upset, or shy, or down in the dumps. Shyness is timidity, which by definition means lacking courage or confidence. Introverts are not necessarily shy any more than they are despondent merely because they’re quiet. It is much more plausible to say that introverts are simply stoic. All in all, stoicism and forbearance are not bad traits to have, and they are certainly not traits that imply one is dysfunctional. We introverts function just fine, we merely function differently than our extroverted and ambiverted friends, but we all share a commonality in that we as human beings wish to be understood and appreciated as we are.
So, while I did say I was going to continue doing music posts, I did not.
I am going to say life got in the way and that’s what we are all going to believe until the end of the internet. To be fair, I have been pre-occupied with major life changes coming down the pipe, meaning less energy to put into the creative parts of my life.
Then again, this is a blog, so who am I trying to fool…
Today, I want to resume my Golden Sun playlist, begun an age ago, but never finished as I gave up on using Blogger. However, I want to change things up slightly. Previously, I was posting one song and one cover from 0rangastang’s Golden Sun Remastered album. However, because the quality of those covers are rather variable, I will instead choose a cover that I just happen to think is the finest, regardless of who made it.
Additionally, I’m going to try and keep the playlist as concise as I am able. There are a lot of themes in Golden Sun and it would not be prudent to try and share all of the ones I like. There are still a lot to come, but I will try to be more discerning in the future, to make it easier for me to come up with these posts.
With that out of the way, today’s music: Venus Lighthouse
Venus Lighthouse is Golden Sun’s final dungeon. Much like Mercury Lighthouse before it, it is a lengthy maze full of puzzles, traps, and enemies that culminates in a final showdown with Saturos and Menardi. Everything about this theme, from the vocals to the powerful percussion carries the feeling of finality that the conclusion of a great game deserves. And yet, this would prove to not be the end, but rather a new beginning for Golden Sun: The Lost Age.
That is for the next post, however. In the meantime, enjoy this Venus Lighthouse cover from OC/DC on YouTube. I honestly just discovered this cover today while searching for a video of the normal theme to use. I greatly enjoy its softer sounds and the limited usage of vocals towards the end charmed me.
Last Wednesday night, we were excited to announce some big changes for Nerd Rage;unfortunately Osei had some glitches with his production software and we had to end our show early. We decided to bring you the news in the following video, and include our run down of the Walking Dead episode “Hostiles and Calamities“.
So we will be moving our show to Sundays at 7/6pm Central. This works with our schedules better and allows you, the audience, more time to catch up on The Walking Dead. We will broadcast just before the new Walking Dead episode airs, so that should reduce the chance of anyone hearing any spoilers on Nerd Rage.
We will try to keep the live, interactive show that everyone loves (hey, let us dream that you love what we do), with recordings playing on the upcoming Riot Radio. We look forward to engaging a broader audience and I, personally, think we can create some fun hashtags using the Rage and Riot themes. I’ll also be announcing more challenges and give-a-ways once we are settled into our new routine!
Something has been bothering me of late, and it has only just come together in my head, so let us talk about it a little.
Possible (minor) Rogue One spoilers (but not really) ahead.
Rogue One is truly the Star Wars movie I’ve wanted for a long while. Despite some weaknesses in the pacing and screenplay, it pressed all the nostalgia buttons and legitimately made me feel like a kid again. The final act is particularly noteworthy in this regard, as the final battle is exciting, emotional, and gripping. Even though the ultimate outcome is already known, the journey to the end is well worth it.
That is when it occurred to me: the Battle of Scarif is the first Star Wars battle since Endor that truly felt like an actual Star Wars battle. What I could not quite figure out was why. After all, the prequel trilogy is filled to the brim with fighting and duels. Very often, these battles were the highlights of otherwise incredibly mediocre movies. So what was it about this particular battle that made it better than three movies worth of battles combined?
The problem is that the prequels’ battles are merely a backdrop. They are the frame rather than the painting. The Battle of Naboo exists so that WesleyAnakin can do something cool and save the day. The Battle of Coruscant exists so that Anakin and Obi-Wan are not simply flying through empty space to save the chancellor. The battles themselves really are not important, based on how little we see of everything happening around the heroes. The battles are merely a means to get the heroes from point A to point B (in a fashion).
By comparison, the Battle of Yavin, while indeed a coming-of-age test for Luke Skywalker, is also just as much about the Rebellion’s desperate struggle against the overwhelming might of the Empire. Every Rebel pilot shot down in battle impacts the viewer in some way. The battle is not a background element; it is the story, of which Luke is a part. The story of the battle and the story of Luke compliment each other and strengthen each other.
Likewise with the Battle of Endor; we do not only see Lando Calrissian at the helm of the Millennium Falcon. We see rebel pilots like Wedge Antilles fighting overwhelming odds. The movie continually returns to Admiral Ackbar trying to save his fleet from the trap it has fallen into. Not only that, but the preceding two films laid the groundwork for the plight of the Rebel Alliance and the necessity of their cause. The viewer is emotionally attached to the fight, making it that much more intense and exciting.
Now, the Battle of Naboo contains some of these elements, but the problem is that the viewer has no real attachment to the plight of the Naboo. Any sympathy we feel for them is forced upon us by the movie’s framing rather than because there is an inherent goodness to the Naboo. At the very least, there’s nothing redeeming or enjoyable about the villains (after all, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin were cool), thus leaving the woefully underdeveloped Naboo as the only option.
George Lucas made a critical error when making the prequel trilogy. He thought the plot should be a (political) metaphor, the battles should (only) look cool, and the characters…well, they would work themselves out. It seems that he never once considered that none of these elements could make a movie to which the viewer could attach themselves emotionally. Or perhaps he forgot how to create a movie containing that emotional pull.
Emotion is why Star Wars is not merely another summer blockbuster. Emotion is why Star Wars is such a phenomenon that transcends its time. If it were another brain-dead sci-fi flick, it might have a cult following, but nothing like what we see today.
We are pained when Luke’s foster parents are murdered by the Empire, sharing in Luke’s grief. We are elated when the Death Star explodes and a costly battle for the Rebel Alliance turns out to have been worth it. We feel Luke’s shock when his lineage is revealed to him on Bespin. We feel joy when the Empire is finally defeated at Endor, emperor and all. All of these moments mean something because they have captured our hearts.
Rogue One’s greatest strength is the power of emotion and connection. It manages to do what the prequels failed to do, creating a cinematic Star Wars experience that even The Force Awakens fell a bit short on.
I recently had a friend ask my opinion of this post entitled, “Why Women Need To Start Asking Men Out…Because Men Have No Balls,” and oh boy….
Where to begin? The most glaring stupidity is the premise of the article; that is, if men are inherently deficient, why would you want to go out with them?
The author (who gave her actual name as if she’s proud of this tripe) then went on a 20+ paragraph rant about how stupid, scared, puerile, and gutless men are.
She laments, “There’s no door-holding, no hand-holding and definitely no free drinks. There’s no taking off hats or courting through invitations. There are no smooth moves, no jackets to dinner. There are no flowers, no tables by candlelight. But, most importantly, there are no dates.” Sounds reasonable, right? I mean you need a date if you’re going to be given flowers and taken to candlelit dinners and hold hands. The drinks aren’t free just because someone else pays for them, but we get the general idea…she’s describing courtship. Right?
Wrong. She then proceeds, “If you’re a single woman, you probably envisioned your twenties as a roaring social scene full of expensive dinners and lavish nights out. You probably thought you’d have a boyfriend, or at least a few dates a week.”
Uhh…at leasta few dates a week?? Of expensive dinners? Several dates a week???
She made it a whole paragraph into her post before she begins a diatribe of such epic stupidity that I felt compelled to dissect it.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps one reason men in her peer group aren’t spending lavish amounts of money on her is because they don’t have the money to spend. In your 20’s, you’re figuring out life, facing the reality of student debt, trying to establish yourself in a career, and probably living in a sparsely furnished abode with roomies. She obviously thinks a string of Christian Greys are going to vie for the honor of dropping fat stacks on entertaining and feeding her, and that they’ll be polite about it.
She writes of the failures of men, “They’ll make eye contact with you in the bar, but never come over. They’ll get your number, but never call. They’ll offer to buy you a drink, but never pay.”
I don’t know, maybe they’re in the bar to drink and relax, not engage with a millennial harpy.
“They’ll say a girl is hot, but never hit on her. They’ll text you for a week, but never ask you out. They’ll do absolutely everything but make a move.” Apparently they just aren’t doing the hitting on and the making of the movesin the exact manner which you prefer, but they are indeed making moves. You just don’t like their moves.
She then goes on to complain that men will chase a woman down to get her number, but wait a week to text as if the only possible item on his agenda that week should have been texting her.
Never fear, though, because M.H. (millennial harpy) has the answer!
“Now, the unfortunate paradox for a woman is that she must be the chased and the chaser. She must be the target and the shooter. She must play coy and simultaneously pursue him.”
She must complain incessantly and expect lavish dinners several times a week…
“Anyone notice the problem here? Yet again, women are left to do all the work. We’re left playing both sides of the game because they’ve simply forgotten how to play.”
Pretty sure if you’re expecting a man to invest time, energy, and funds into wooing you, calling it a game is a sure-fire way to turn him off.
M.H. has decided that her dating woes are due to the fact that “… men don’t know what the hell they want from us….We must tell them what they want if we’re to get anywhere close to the goals we had for ourselves.”
Yes. Because dating is all about yooouuuuuuu, ladies! I suppose the irony escapes her that she complains about men being weak, indecisive mama’s boys, but her solution is to treat them like weak, indecisive mama’s boys who just need her guidance so that they might make her happy.
I’m curious if she and others like her ever bothered to ask men what they wanted, or if they wanted anything at all. Like my friend Doug said, “[She] seems to assume that “normal” men SHOULD court, chase after, etc. any woman by virtue of the fact that she is a woman? This is nonsense.” It’s just possible that some men aren’t interested in the chase, and even more likely that they aren’t interested in that particular woman.
As if her generalizations thus far haven’t been insulting enough, she posits that men are simply cowards; “They’ll never admit it, but you scare the hell out of them. After years of social conditioning, we’ve been duped into thinking that men are the strong ones…TV lied to you. Men aren’t these masculine displays of strength and perseverance. They aren’t these persistent characters..”
It’s possible that the prospect of spending time with the author of that piece is frightening, but not because men are cowards… it’s because they’re sane.
M.H. then goes on to regal us with the strength and intelligence of women, and how they are forever putting themselves out there for the good of society. She does this, of course, by denigrating the women who are raising boys into men who have the audacity to actively avoid her company.
We women have to stick together, ya know.
Perhaps my favorite part of this inane drivel passing for quality writing at Elite Daily is this: “In the society in which we live today, with Gigi Hadid and Miranda Kerr’s Instagrams readily accessible, women have got a lot to compete with…We can dream about Channing Tatum and Chris Pine all we want, but at least women are rational enough to understand that’s just not gonna happen. So we settle for the options we’ve been given and learn to work with what we have.” (emphasis added)
I don’t know why you have such trouble attracting a man, sweetie. It’s a mystery.
The coup de gras in this misandrist rant is this assertion: “Men also know that if they don’t get up the nerve to ask you out, all they have to do is swipe right on Tinder to skip the date and get right to the good stuff.”
First, if you are calling sex “the good stuff,” you obviously don’t feel you have much else to offer. Second, unless all these potential suitors are gay, there are other women enabling this behavior. Finally, if what you want are lavish dinners and he’s obviously only in it for sex, WHY DO YOU CARE THAT HE’S NOT PURSUING YOU? It’s simply a matter of wanting different things, and you need to get down off your sanctimonious soapbox about how indecisive men are. They made a decision. They chose not you.
As my friend Ruth said, “Men don’t approach women for dates anymore, because they’ve been yelled and screamed at that women are too empowered to need or want them for more than an F-bomb. And the GOOD men are looking for so much more.”
Men who are looking for more than no-strings copulation are willing to put effort into a date. They’ll provide flowers and candlelight and the whole nine…but they are not interested in playing games with a whiny little diva who wants to use them for their pocketbook before she decides to settle for not-Channing-Tatum. If you want to attract quality, you have to be quality.
It’s true that society has supplanted courtship with hook-up culture, but it’s hardly singularly the fault of men. It’s also true that, like it or not, sometimes he’s just not that into you.
It is that time again where I decide to comment on the things I have seen lately. Given the state of the world, I am not really looking forward to this:
Audio has come out of Donald Trump being an uncouth pig. To which I say, “So?” Not because Trump is somehow excused from common decency, but because it is entirely unsurprising. The people who support Trump know he’s like this, so this is in no way surprising or even disappointing. You cannot disappoint people when there was no expectations to fail to meet in the first place. It is disgusting, sure, but I did not vote to hang this albatross around my own neck; I knew that is what he was from the start.
If anything, I am more irked by the blatant double standard being applied. Yes, Trump is outrageous and ill-disposed to carry himself with any dignity, but what of his opponent? Hillary Clinton is no paragon of virtue. Last I knew, being a corrupt public servant for one’s entire life is worse than being an asshole. After all, I’m fairly certain that four men dying half a world away ranks as something worse than being a sexist pig. A man can always repent of moral vacuity; the dead cannot be brought back to life.
It is funny how every election I have been alive for has been portrayed as the most important election in the history of America. It seems that every four years, the ante is upped and the stakes are more dire than ever before. So it figures that, in the year when these statements may indeed be actually true, I am wholly indifferent to the political process. Let the chips fall where they may; my hope does not lie in Washington any longer.
I never really understood the “All Lives Matter” response to “Black Lives Matter.” There is really nothing in BLM’s name that somehow implies that other lives don’t matter. If anything, my real problem is that there is an assumption contained in Black Lives Matter that black lives do not matter to anyone else. The problem here is that if society at large ignores the problems of the black community, what precisely is the black community doing to solve its own ills? Protesting cops and denigrating white people does nothing to lower the crime rate or lift the ghetto out of poverty. Black Lives Matter feels more like a massive deflection away from issues that can only be fixed by looking inward.
Do your best to appreciate the people in your life and to strengthen the bonds with them. The myth of human progress is in full effect, and very soon the ideal will be shattered…again. Who knows how the world will look in half a decade? I’m not banking on “better.” In that day, allies and friends will be more valuable than ever.
The funny thing about places strong in the Force is that you start to see things. Hear things…things that you ought to hear, but may not want to. So it was on the Sith tomb world of Korriban as I traveled through the decrepit ruins of a temple. Along the way I was confronted by my companions, each in turn, presenting me with a choice. And each time, I answered in a way that attempted to cut down the middle, appease everyone without taking a stand.
And at the very end, they each judged me alike, admonishing me. “Apathy is death.” echoed in the room, through my mind. “Apathy is death” would be the words to follow me in my journey and my search, subtly affecting all my actions.
Now, if you are in any way paying attention, I am obviously not talking about my own personal journey. Rather, this happens to the Jedi Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II. In a more complete game, “Apathy is death” might have been addressed more clearly, however, this does not mean it is not an important life lesson.
Lately, this article has been floating around. To summarize, it is a baffled look at the tendency of millennials to think that not knowing how to be a functional adult, at the most basic level, is somehow a positive thing. They think that being incompetent or lazy is cute or desirable. This is, of course, inane and foolish.
However, it occurred to me that there is something far worse happening with today’s youth, which goes beyond mere narcissism: Apathy.
Millennials are not just being lazy when they let the laundry pile up in the corner. They do not just think it is cute when they order take out every day of the week because they hardly know how to cook. It is not just them thinking it quirky when they cannot manage their money.
It is apathy.
They simply have no desire to actually be functional adults. The will to be respectable, capable, and dependable does not exist within them. Millennials simply do not care.
Now we see the results daily. The young adults who meander through life without any real or serious goals: apathy toward the future. They do not get their lives in order because they have no real desire to actually get their lives in order. The future is far away and nothing to worry about.
The college students who demand safe spaces on college campuses: apathy towards different opinions. Sure, they have intense, angry reactions to opinions with which they disagree. However, in the end, their true reason for seeking safety from disagreement is that they simply don’t care about opinions different from theirs. It is much easier to not care at all.
The people who attach themselves to every half-baked social justice cause cooked up on the internet: apathy towards making a real difference. It is easy to make a lot of noise on the internet. It is easy to yell obscenities at cops during a protest. It is easy to call people you have never met bigots and xenophobes. What is hard is to actually change these things, to do something meaningful which might actually have an impact on the world. One can watch from the sidelines, saying “This is awful/great” while excusing oneself by saying “This is far from me” or “It cannot touch me here, in my little bubble.”
Life on this Earth invariably trends downward: we all get older, that which was once new atrophies. To spend your life doing nothing with yourself because you are indifferent won’t stop death from arriving. Apathy is death because inaction inevitably means that you build nothing up. You can do nothing good, nor can you prevent bad from happening.
Apathy is the worst kind of death; the death of a life lived to its smallest, of potential thoroughly wasted. And an entire generation has grown up apathetic to life itself.
Fifteen years ago, I was still in school. I was still just a kid, for whom college and adulthood were but a distant worry, nothing to be concerned about. Politics was just one of those things I saw on Sunday morning talk shows. The world was still full of dreams and the future was bright.
That morning, I was in social studies, doing an activity of some sort; I hardly remember what it is and it wasn’t important in the long run. That’s when the announcement came over the PA, instructing teachers not to turn on their televisions. Naturally, this was the dumbest thing administration could have done, because within seconds, ours was on to ABC, and the images of the burning towers. We weren’t sure what was happening, as pretty much everyone else in the world was at that moment, so we tried to get on with it, casting hesitant glances at the news. Twenty minutes later, the signal was cut.
I’ve always been conflicted on that decision. On the one hand, I could understand. In a school of ~1500 students, many of whom had parents working in and around New York City, there is good reason to try and restrain fear. On the other hand, we were blind for the rest of the day. We knew planes had hit and the towers burned, but we learned nothing more until after school.
That was when I learned the horrible truth. The towers had fallen. All of the World Trade Center was gone, buried under a pile of twisted metal and dust and ash. The Pentagon had been hit as well as a crashed plane in my own state. I heard the possible death tolls rise over five thousand. I watched Peter Jennings, a man I had considerable respect for, fail to hold together.
In a world where war was a distant echo from places like Israel and Kosovo, harsh reality exploded into my mind. It struck in a place that I had visited not even five years before, a place that marked a skyline burned into my memory from childhood.
In an instant, the world had changed.
The myth of human progress: until recently, it was a concept I understood to which could give no name. The myth asserts the idea that humanity is “progressing.” It is the idea that the progression of technology and morality will lead to a better, brighter future without war and conflict. The myth first appeared in the early 20th century. The invention of motorized land and air travel, the proliferation of electricity, the dawn of modern medicine had all led to an atmosphere of the unstoppable force of mankind.
World War I shattered this perception. Humanity’s progress didn’t only make life better; it made it many times easier to end those lives. And so in a crucible of blood and suffering, the myth suffered its first death.
It would not be resurrected again until the end of the century. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dawn of the Information Age, humanity seemed set on the path of uninterrupted progress once again. And once again, the myth was shattered. Once again, we learned the hard way that not everyone in the world believes in a freer, safer world.
But this time, rather than being changed, people grabbed up the shards and tried to pretend that progress was unabated. They tried to pretend that the world wasn’t as dangerous as it always had been, the goals of all humanity were aligned together. Those that had taken the attack as a wake-up call were opposed to those who had not.
And so I have watched the world crumble ever since. Where once there had been unity, the world was slowly consumed by division and hatred. The love borne out of shared grief, love that once brought us together, wasted away. Maybe the terrorists won after all. Rather than focusing on tearing them apart, we tear each other apart. Now we are divided in every sense of the word, even to the point where we cannot agree there is an enemy to fight at all.
So, on this day, the fifteenth anniversary of the attack that changed everything, my heart is grieved. Not only for the lives lost on the day, but for the world that this day birthed.
It’s no secret that the political atmosphere is rife with tension these days. It doesn’t help that both online and in the real world, there are paid trolls who are making bank off the divisiveness of various movements and campaigns. It is mentally and spiritually exhausting to deal with.
I’m simply tired of the political blame games. I’m tired of broad insults and assumptions.
Someone asked me earlier, in discussing ‘deplorables’ and ignorance and support for this side or that, “Who’s fault is that?” You know what I said?
Ours. It’s our fault.
It’s my fault and your fault. It’s everyone making sweeping assumptions and dispensing broad insults and NOT talking to the people around us in real life about the whys and hows of real life issues. We aren’t even aware of what issues matter most to the people living around us, working with us, and teaching our kids, or why those issues matter to them.
I think we need to step away from the internet and relearn how to speak to actual human beings. We need to be able to discuss, educate, and persuade without being complete asshats, because that’s pretty much how we all come across when all we do is obsess over who’s on the right side of politics all day online. We spend an inordinate amount of time arguing with people whose opinions we don’t esteem in the least, and whose lives we couldn’t care less about. And why don’t we care??
If you can’t see your opponent as a human being with value simply because they vote differently than you, then I’d say that says a lot more about you than it does about them. I certainly don’t like what it says about me, and as convinced as I am of my rightness, I realize that it makes no difference when I crow about it on the internet. That usually doesn’t change anyone’s mind, but it validates my opinion with every like and “Amen!” thrown my way…which is still pretty unproductive.
Being morally superior about our choice in candidate does far more harm than good. I can and will express my opinions, but I’m trying to avoid issuing insults to people I don’t even know. People whose lives, concerns, and values I can’t possibly understand. I know that their support may go to policies and candidates that I find detestable, but why should I then write them off as if they’re no better than dirt? Not knowing what led them to this choice, what good does it do to insult them now that they’ve reached it?
Basic decency has taken a critical hit in this election cycle. Even good people are so caught up in the frustration of it that they’re letting their pride and ego turn them into something unrecognizable. I get it, we’re all extremely frustrated! We’re all disappointed and disgusted and afraid. But we’re also all still human beings, and we’re more complex than “Trump voter” or “Hillary voter” or “Johnson voter”. We’re all far more complex than political affiliation. Our importance and worth extends beyond “ally” or “opponent”.
You may be right. You may have the most facts and the best arguments. You may have a brain the size of Canada.
But if you don’t have a heart, you’ve lost. It’s just that simple.
You’ve lost your ability to influence people who you will need on your side politically, and you’ve lost a crucial part of what it takes to be a decent person in general.
There’s a saying that goes like this: “You can be right or you can be happy.” Just look around you. Look in the mirror. It’s pretty clear that we aren’t choosing happy, and frankly I don’t wish to be allied with a bunch of sourpusses.
I simply cannot retain the good in me when my mind and mood is being poisoned by negative influences. I choose to be happy, and to be at peace.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord.