I am discouraged.
Here I've been given this great opportunity, a weekly blog, a platform that might help me reach people; I have so much to say that needs to be said - and to be fair, is being said, by better people than me - on things like critical thinking and integrity and human rights and the giant mess that decades of Lesser Evil Voting and centrist ideology have gotten us into; and every time I start to make headway on an essay to open this series with, I get in my head: Does this really need to be said again? Twenty other people are talking about this, who already have platforms; why would my voice be more well-recieved? Am I really saying anything that hasn't been said a thousand times? Am I bringing any new information to the table? What good is this going to put into the world? Why should anyone care?
Then I get deeper into my head over the fact that this is such a privileged position to have - people are dying, society is collapsing, the government is openly fascist and the predominant presidential challenger has no intention of changing that, the planet is literally on fire, misinformation is spreading faster than the fires - and here's a cisgender white dude upset that people won't listen to him? Typical. I'm an embarassment.
I agreed to start this blog a week ago, and I've started about twelve essays in that time, deleted each one. Just a non-stop stream of writing and insulting it and myself - the archetype of the angsty neurotic writer. I was getting ready this morning to ask my Writer friends and my Anarcho-communist friends for encouragement and advice - and then I thought about The Newsroom, and Will McAvoy's first day as an anchor.
If you're not familiar with The Newsroom, it's an Aaron Sorkin show from 2011 about a group of painfully neoliberal news professionals trying to run a news network the way it should objectively be run; it's most well-known for the first five minutes of the pilot, in which Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) rants about why America is not the greatest country in the world as many would have us believe. It's definitely an inspiring speech, and if you haven't heard it you should check it out.
But more importantly, later in the series it's revealed that McAvoy's first day as a news anchor was September 11, 2001; during the attacks, for various reasons, no anchors were available to be on the air, and McAvoy - who was in the studio as a consultant - was put in front of the camera, completely unqualified, unprepared, and confused, with an unexpected platform to address an unprecedented national crisis (I draw all my inspiration and relatability from fiction, relax about it), and he gave this short statement that evening:
"We don't know how many are dead. It's gonna be a lot, it's gonna be thousands. We don't know who attacked us. We don't know what's coming tomorrow, and I don't know what I'm doing. But I'll make you this promise: I'm gonna be with you all night."
Honestly, I can't think of a better way to sum up the emotional tone of what I'm trying to do with this blog.
I'm discouraged; not just about this blog, about the state of the country, and the world, and public attitudes and social trends and humanity's relationship with Truth. I'm past discouraged - I'm despondent, and I'm not self-centered enough to think I'm alone in this. We're all having a hard time right now, and some of that is based on reality and some of it's based on misinformation and some of it's based on deliberate fearmongering and it's time-consuming at the very least to sort out which is which.
I'm going to be here, every week, to try to help. I'm definitely not the best person for the job; anything I say here, I say with all due humility. I am not an educated or especially experienced man; certainly not a successful one in anyone's definition, with no special skills or insight. I'm just a typical lower-middle-class cisgender white dude, fully conscious of the privilege that affords me, just trying to listen to and believe those without those privileges and learn; "Deferential, glad to be of use, / Politic, cautious, and meticulous; / Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; / At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—Almost, at times, the Fool." I try to make sure my strong opinions are informed and tempered by hard science, current and historical context, and the lived experiences of my marginalized brothers and sisters, but don't take my words as expert opinion on anything; I am only an egg.
I'm not the best for the job, but my voice is all I have in this moment and I have an opportunity to use it, and I will at least do that.
Over the coming weeks - as many weeks as it takes for my radical-left, anarcho-communist, counter-intuitive ranting to lead to public outrage and calls to my editor to shut me down (somewhere between four and 16 weeks off the top of my head) - we're going to address a lot of hot-button issues that have real and severe consequences for a lot of people, and it's going to be necessarily frightening and contentious. That's the nature of important conversations between people with conflicting worldviews in a world rank with deliberate misinformation; there's no getting past that. And I'm going to spend a lot of time feeling futile and you're going to spend a lot of time pissed off at what I have to say; but I promise you that we're in this together, that we can make real change, and that I will be with you, all night.