Hourglass

I hate politics. Always have.

I’m opinionated to the gills, but there are some things I don’t discuss simply because I find the discussion fruitless. Not that a subject is only worth visiting if something will come of it. It’s just that I don’t bother with topics I find dull unless it’s going to affect some kind of change I deem significant or of personal value to me.

Politics never fall under that umbrella.

A lot is happening in the world. A lot is happening in my country. And it seems I’m expected to say something about it. I could argue that I said all I needed to say with my vote, though I suppose that’s too abstract.

I’m sure it can appear out of character that I haven’t gone into great detail about Trump being our president – especially in the wake of the travel ban. Truth is, I had nothing to say. For all the judgments I make, there are infinitely more I don’t.

Some things, I let speak for themselves.

It’s like watching a friend who doesn’t know the first thing about skateboarding climb onto a high ramp with a steep angle, insisting that they’re going to skate down in a fiery blaze, launch themselves majestically from the ramp with the wind at their back, flip the board, and land safely on an overturned trash can twenty feet away.

It’s an accident waiting to happen. So was the election.

The difference is that in the case of an election, we’re given the appearance of power over the outcome. We’re given the chance, by vote, to express not only our values, but our concerns in a way that supposedly has a tangible effect on the governance of our nation.

But I’ve always understood that you aren’t voting for an outcome. You’re voting for potential. People stand before you and tout what they’ll do, but what they say has no bearing on what’s actually going to happen and the choices they’re actually going to make.

So it’s a gamble. When we vote, we’re essentially placing a bet that the person we want to see in office will get there and do great things or, at the very least, be better for us than the alternatives. Hope is what we vote for. Nothing more.

On July 19th, 2016, I tweeted the following:

Why cringe at this election? Our culture is getting exactly what it’s allowed. Folks are just mad our general foolishness made it upstairs.

To be shocked by the fact that Trump was running for president, and gaining support in spite of the opinions he voiced or the way he conducted himself, was to be shocked that America is America. The election, for me, was a reflection of ourselves and our shortcomings.

Nothing shocks me about what our society has become or what it’s arguably always been in one form or another. Every country has its flaws and historical baggage. We’re no better or worse than anyone except in our potential to be better than we are.

We have so much knowledge. We’re privileged and prosper in ways that are out of reach for much of the globe. We have the benefit of worldly exposure and unmatched diversity, and the lessons that our freedoms teach us, as much by being given as by being taken away.

As a nation, we can and should know better – whatever better there is to know – yet we fail each other and ourselves again and again.

We divide ourselves over things that amount to dust in the vastness of the universe and the shortness of our lives in spite of that division yielding nothing productive or good. We’re weak when we need to be strong, giving in to prejudice, giving in to ego, giving in to stupor, hatred or spite.

We’re petty because we can be and we’re entertained by drama. We instigate shit out of boredom and are distasteful out of habit.

We chase everything harder than we chase bettering ourselves on the inside – including looking better on the outside – because being a better person requires too much effort and doesn’t sow enough external rewards.

We talk about how shameful it is that XYZ is still a problem in [current year] without taking it to heart that our progressive ideas were hashed and rehashed by brilliant, divergent minds throughout history. We ignore the fact that people were saying this shouldn’t be a problem today when “today” was five thousand years ago, and we’ve still yet to achieve peace.

I don’t care to attribute it to some divine plan. I’d rather say it’s for the simplest of reasons: Some people are just too shitty for peace to prevail.

There will always be a percentage of the population that’s happiest when others are miserable, there will always be those who put their wants above other people’s needs, and there will always be those who prefer the suffering of others over what they perceive to be the compromising of themselves or their values.

It’s human nature. It just comes more naturally to some than others.

The best we can ask for is that the good ones outnumber the shitty ones from time to time – and many Americans were devastated when Trump won because it felt like undeniable proof that the good ones are in the minority.

I don’t believe that.

In spite of being painfully aware of our shortfalls and guessing that Trump was going to win because of them, I still believe most Americans would let go of the crap that drives us apart if it meant a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

Things just haven’t gotten bad enough for them to concede.

People are still comfortable enough to be dicks about race, religion, and the like. We’re lucky that way. The rest don’t know how to make things better, so they’re grasping at straws.

But back to the accident waiting to happen, I said nothing because I considered the outcome inevitable. Whether I said my piece or not, people were going to vote for Trump – lots of them – and nothing I had to say about it would have been any different from the things already being said.

In short, I was over it before it started, but people still wanted to hear my thoughts, so I figured I’d give them now for the new year and be done with it…

A lot of Trump supporters felt that the people vilifying him were just exaggerating liberals too blinded by some politically correct agenda to recognize him as the most rational choice.

And a lot of anti-Trumps felt his supporters were a bunch of backwater bigots who praised his unethical ideology.

I didn’t fall on either side of that fence and it goes back to what I said about elections being a gamble. There’s no sure thing. No candidate is guaranteed to be a good president or bad.

And as much as people think that being well-versed in the positions put forth by each candidate makes them more suitable to vote than someone who knows very little about their stance or the acts they’ve committed in the past, an educated guess is still a guess.

So I could complicate it with a bunch of political mumbo jumbo. None of that is necessary or even relevant. When asked to place my faith in one person or another, I’m always going to bet on the one who puts humanity first – or in this case, not pick the one who unapologetically sets it aside.

Regardless of their running position on things like healthcare, abortion, gay marriage, immigration, business, and foreign policy, the president is going to be put in situations every day where difficult choices have to be made, and I care about how they’ll make them.

Even if I disagree with their decisions, I want to know that the human part of that equation wasn’t taken lightly or steeped in a fundamentally negative bias.

Someone of the character to care about human beings as a single unit will take that perspective into consideration with each choice and conflict they face. That’s far more important to me than trying to weigh promises candidates aren’t even obligated to keep.

Once we the people were on the table and the question of how laws and efforts would affect us required its due, I felt that Trump would lead with a self-serving prejudice and frame his decisions within the confines of that prejudice, creating a very narrow path for this country to walk.

And I felt he would lack the care and finesse of a thoughtful leader in favor of being impetuous.

Moreover, I felt he would act in accordance with the worst parts of his nature – the parts that many Americans shared quietly, yet emboldened in him, and without the characteristics of leadership required to temper it.

Long story short, I didn’t trust Trump as a person, so I didn’t vote for him as a president.

It’s that simple.

I know many boiled the election down to voting for an asshole who was at least honest about it versus voting for a liar, but I’m of the mindset that all leaders lie, whether to protect the people or themselves.

So, frankly, I can vote for a liar because I suffer no delusion that an honest person has ever taken office or left it, but I can’t vote for someone I want to slap every time he opens his mouth on principle because he acts against the good of the people in favor of the good of himself and his class.

At any rate, the fact remains that some people did vote for Trump, and I don’t hate them for it. Yes, some of them are dicks and used Trump’s campaign as a platform for their ignorance, but I think most of them were regular people who felt they were voting for change.

Just like those who voted for Obama.

I don’t care what anyone says. People didn’t vote for Obama because he was black. Not directly. They voted for him because he was something other than what they had, and in that, they saw the potential for things to be different.

Change is a powerful temptress – one that many Americans felt compelled to court. Unfortunately, I think the change Trump supporters were hoping for may come at a price they hadn’t considered. Everything happening now is merely a glimpse at the fox they put in the hen house.

There will be more.

But maybe that’s exactly what we needed. Seeing so many of his supporters recant, this may be their wake-up call, just as Trump’s win was a wake-up call for the naive who thought it could never have happened.

Maybe as things decline further and Trump voters become increasingly disillusioned, their regret for having played a part in putting him in office will prompt them to revisit their priorities.

Maybe they’ll reexamine themselves to figure out why on Earth they thought voting for someone generally presumed to be a greedy, racist, sexist, homophobic narcissist who cares only about the rich and powerful would make our country better.

And maybe their desire to make up for the vote they cast will encourage them to come together with fellow Americans in a way they haven’t before, working harder to undo what was done as a nation.

To that end, looking back, on November 9th, I tweeted this:

Don’t let the outcome of this election be your defining moment. Accomplish as human beings what we may have failed to accomplish as voters.

And that’s where my opinion rests.

Trump may be our president, but he doesn’t have to be our voice. We still choose who we want to be as individuals and that’s what shapes who we are as a country.

We can show each other and the world the America that we want to live in and be known for by pushing for something greater than numbers on a page.

Not to sound like the oracle on the hill, but be wary of things to come, because this climate has the potential to tear us apart from the inside out. This is how empires fall. Don’t sit back and watch it happen. Be better people. You, me, everyone.

Be better.
Not eventually.
Now.

Advertisements

A Modern Dramedy Starring MGTOW

We all know that if you have a curious mind or otherwise suffer from a chronic case of the boredoms, the internet will rope you into things irrelevant to what you were originally interested in and suffocate you.

So I was looking something up about the lat pull-down, which led me to a video of a guy working out in a gym, which led me to an ignorant comment about how all women who wear yoga pants at the gym are attention-seeking whores and to the Cirque Du Bullshit that came hobbling after.

Once we arrived at center ring, someone bashing women for being bitches who distract men by showing off their fat asses then get pissed that men are looking mentioned MGTOW.

I didn’t have any idea if that was just an internet term I was unfamiliar with or if it had something to do with gym culture, since all of the males posting at that point were lifters, so I looked it up.

Men Going Their Own Way

Upon realizing it was some sort of group, I returned to those video comments to better understand why it was mentioned and the manstrosities supporting it made it sound like a society of bitter guys who fear and resent women, degrading them in reclamation of their manhood.

I’m aware that people have a tendency to ruin whatever group they belong to by injecting their own individual flaws and bias into that group’s ideology, though, so I didn’t want to judge or define MGTOW by their idiocy.

I instead went back to the website to see if there was a mission statement or something that would explain the core values of the group as it stands – and there was…

Men Going Their Own Way is a statement of self-ownership, where the modern man preserves and protects his own sovereignty above all else. It is the manifestation of one word: “No”. Ejecting silly preconceptions and cultural definitions of what a “man” is. Looking to no one else for social cues. Refusing to bow, serve and kneel for the opportunity to be treated like a disposable utility. And, living according to his own best interests in a world which would rather he didn’t.

My initial reaction was good for you, guys! Don’t let the world define you as a man! Take back control of your lives and yourselves!

I, of course, was thinking of it in human terms and was reminded of The Fountainhead (1949) starring Gary Cooper, which is one of my favorite films and one I strongly identified with the first time I saw it. Specifically, I was moved by the speech Gary’s character, Howard Roark, delivered in his defense.

I won’t spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it by explaining anything further. Just note that the bolded is a line that’s resonated with me ever since because it so aptly defines my worldview…

I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy, nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim. It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing. I came here to be heard. In the name of every man of independence still left in the world. I wanted to state my terms. I do not care to work or live on any others. My terms are a man’s right to exist for his own sake.

This is the kind of powerful sentiment MGTOW’s description called to mind, except that the wording was curious – oddly specific in a way that masqueraded as broad. Looking to others for social cues? Kneeling to whom? A disposable utility in what sense? What best interests?

I thought first and foremost of the crippling machine that honest work has become. I can think of no other construct wherein men and women are treated so commonly as disposable utilities forced to bow, to conform, to act in favor of someone else’s best interests, than in the context of a job.

I think many can attest to the fact that it isn’t at all unusual to lose yourself in the struggle to support yourself – to achieve the security and stability we’ve all been conditioned to prize in fear of the alternative.

But a part of me kept going back to the commentary circus and how female-centric it was as though women are the problem they’re trying to solve. Not the dehumanizing rigors of the society men arguably built that way, and that we continue to shape together.

No.

It’s humans with vaginas.

Humans with vaginas are single-handedly decimating their manhood! The very same humans with vaginas who are supposedly weak and incapable without men. We’ve somehow robbed the mighty of their might.

Nothing in MGTOW’s description gave me that impression, so the disconnect remained in my mind between those guys supposedly speaking for the group and the group itself until I read the rest of the website and the tweets of the man/men responsible for the group and realized that those roid-ragey, misogynist pricks were pretty spot on.

MGTOW is actually that fucking stupid.

Rather, whatever nobility was to be found in the message is lost to the bitterness and hostility of its followers and the credibility of their gripes is overshadowed by a glaring bias ironically motivated more by “feels” than reason.

The whole of MGTOW’s FAQs, for example, sounds more like a defensive Tumblr user trying to be clever in their response to the anonymous message why u such a faggot dummy fukkin kill urself than someone intellectually committed to an ideal, wanting to educate others on what they stand for and what they hope to achieve.

Unlike other campaigns I’ve seen that are clear and calm about the ways in which their advocates seek to affect change and why, this “movement” comes across as organized venting by the hypersensitive – more group therapy than group.

Given the things these men say and the fact that their steaming piles are directed so decisively at females and all who endeavor not to presume we’re the spawn of Satan, it’d be easy to jump to the conclusion that they’re just guys who got burned by a woman and subsequently embarked on this crusade that really amounts to nothing more than making themselves feel better.

But boiling it down to that dismisses the fact that someone doesn’t need to be someone else’s victim in order to despise them and all they represent. That’s a mistake we make – assuming vitriol must have a personal source.

It’s just as likely that these are men who’ve taken issue with the way things are from the start and just happen to blame the general tenor of women in our society for it independent of a woman actually doing anything to them personally. I’d guess it’s a little of both, but that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s what sews my buttons…

I strongly believe in gender equality to an extent that’s logical, reasonable, and fair and I believe we’ve built a society that’s none of those things towards males and females alike. That inequality manifests itself differently for both sexes and, depending on the way you measure the effects, is worse for women in some ways and worse for men in others.

The difference is that in being the dominant voice and governing hand in our society for centuries (and other societies for millennia), men are primarily responsible for the way things are, including the way we assign and interpret gender roles and the way that gender dynamics have had to evolve.

What these men view as the loss of themselves to the big bad lady wolf, I view as them reaping what they’ve sown.

Males, seemingly justified by nature, created an environment wherein females were dependent upon them by misguided morality and law. A world where males had to take ownership of females via marriage before females could secure even a moderately respectable existence.

A quiet patriarchy under which the only independent women were those housed in brothels. Where a woman without a man to give an heir to and keep house for was a throwaway. An undesirable.

And men prided themselves in that power – the king and last word. The providers who chose or bought women who’d be forever indebted to them because women could be nothing without them. The men who knew they could take what they wanted whether they were wanted or not in return.

They made it very clear what part a man was meant to play in this world and how women fit into that equation. They appointed themselves the stewards of our sex – how we could live, what we could own, who we could love – and our bodies. They took ownership of that, too.

Demanding virginity where male “purity” was never a question or answer. Governing even our motherhood, a gift given only to us, by dictating when we had to conceive to suit their purpose and how many we needed to have and which sex we had to produce lest we fail them. Deciding when we had to give up our child, either in the womb or out.

Now they’re annoyed that we live in a culture so clouded by the residue of that past that it’s still a present for plenty. A world where so many women still expect a man to take care of them.

Where so many still require the validation of being someone’s wife. Where so many value themselves only so much as a man values them and as such, are groomed from day one to attract a mate. Where so many feel their purpose in life hasn’t been fulfilled until they’ve given birth.

Namely, a detestably antiquated climate wherein women chase the immutable transaction men established so long ago: Women give you sex, children, and servitude and you give them money, a home, and social status.

The standards women hold themselves against and hold men against were designed by men and now they feel oppressed by the aftermath, blaming us for a dynamic we had little to no control over for most of our history and in many parts of the world, still don’t.

They defined what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a man’s man, and what women should be like in return without consideration of the fact that one day, the number of men and women content with that existence might shift just enough for everyone to complain.

For men to be tired of women who measure a man’s worth by his strength and success as if a man’s only reason for being is to guarantee a woman’s safety and security. For women to be tired of men who measure a woman’s worth by her sexual attractiveness as if a woman’s only reason for being is to entertain a man in bed and look good on his arm.

I sympathize with both sexes because we’ve been equally foolish to one another, as we’ve been to ourselves, yet we’re so incredibly dim that we’re convinced these social benchmarks and male/female archetypes are objectively right when they don’t exist outside of our minds.

The natural world dictates that water flows. The natural world dictates that light refracts. The natural world doesn’t give two shits if a man pays for dinner or if a woman wears a dress. These are things we made up.

And we torture ourselves and each other over it and tell each other it’s nature – that all men are this way and all women are that way and anyone who thinks otherwise is naive.

I hate to break it to you, friends, but it’s easy to believe your notion of what men and women are like applies to everyone when you dismiss anyone who doesn’t fit that mold. Confirmation bias is real. So what am I on about?

Why do I think MGTOW is a joke?

It isn’t because the feeling is wrong. I understand where these men are coming from and accept their outrage and discontent as valid.

I think the happy wife, happy life mantra is bullshit. I don’t believe mothers are more important than fathers, and I don’t think men should be pressured into marriage by milestone-oriented girlfriends clamoring about tying the knot before Susie McFucktard.

I don’t believe men are “scrubs” just because they aren’t wealthy and powerful with prestigious careers, and I don’t think it’s okay to ridicule a man for being short or scrawny or bald any more than I think it’s okay to ridicule a woman for being flat-chested or overweight.

There are countless things I don’t agree with and countless ways in which men are being stifled or taken for granted, so my gripe isn’t with their objections. It’s with their deduction. Their credibility ends where their conclusion that women are the problem begins.

The second you skip the human conversation about how all of us are doing each other wrong in any number of areas in favor of acting like women are all guilty of bloody murder and men are all innocent victims of emasculation, you’ve gone from having a point to being a melodramatic bore.

Women lie about being raped for petty reasons and we have to suffer for it! I bet you think that’s okay, huh? No, actually. I think it’s awful. Incidentally, I also think it’s awful when men detract from the fact that women get raped with life-long consequences without seeing justice done by harping on the fact that some lie about it.

Women lie about a kid being yours just so you’ll take care of them and they get away with it! I bet you pat them on the back, right? Nope. I think women who lie about a man being the father just to rope him into supporting them or remaining in a relationship should be held accountable.

I also think men who convince a woman he wants to have a child with her, assuring that he’ll be there for her and the baby, then skip out on her the second she gets pregnant because he changed his mind and it’s “not his problem” should be held accountable.

So let’s simplify this…

Men are pretty fucking terrible and women are pretty fucking terrible. The only consolation is that it’s not all of us – it’s not even most of us – and it’s been my experience that men and women who aren’t toxic waste are easy to find when you don’t waltz around assuming they don’t exist.

Self-fulfilling prophecy and all that.

MGTOW misses the mark because its members appear to be so blinded by this one-sided, tunnel vision anger towards women that their arguments either don’t make any sense, are too absolute to be logical, or are otherwise too emotionally-fueled to take seriously.

You know who I’d listen to? A man who says, “I understand that many of the changes society is going through are in response to the way things have been. Women were kept under our thumbs in ways that dehumanized them and denied them the right to exist as their own beings independent of male needs and desires. We contributed to a world wherein women felt voiceless and unsafe and weren’t as progressive as we should have been in recognizing that.

I just think the pendulum is beginning to swing too far in the other direction and men are now being controlled and denied in the interest of what women want. I know we often overcompensate for past transgressions and I want to find a happy medium. I just don’t think that’s possible the way things are going, so I’m bowing out or speaking up.”

Not someone who says, “I’m here to tell the truth this feminazi pussy-pandering society doesn’t want to hear! Women are cheap, conniving, selfish leeches who want nothing more than to see our power destroyed and deny us our sovereignty! Stop bowing down to these bitches! We don’t need their psycho money-grubbing drama!” 

Because there’s a difference between not being okay with the way things are and having a gigantic bug up your stupid ass – and I’m not saying men have to agree with me or anyone else in order to be deemed reasonable.

I’m saying that if they disagree, I’m more apt to pay attention to their rebuttal when they’re capable of formulating one more thoughtful than, “Whatever, blue piller! Keep sleeping in your dream world with your white knights while the rest of us open our eyes!”

Okay, I guess?

I wanted MGTOW to be insightful and progressive. I really did. I was excited about the idea of men standing up for themselves in the way that women have been standing up for themselves. But the more I read, the more disappointed I became. I feel more sorry for the men drawn to it than inspired by them.

This is one of those very, very, very, very rare instances in which I would set aside the benefit of the doubt that these are wise and passionate men who simply aren’t communicating their values well and go straight to the childish gamer’s supposition that they’re butt hurt.

In short:
U mad, bro?