Refusing to Remain Silent

Test­ing, test­ing. Is this thing on?

It prob­a­bly isn’t, but here I am anyway.

A lot has hap­pened over the course of the year since I last wrote here.

My wife Jade and I cel­e­brat­ed our third wed­ding anniver­sary this month, not with fan­cy gifts but with sev­er­al spe­cial dates over the course of this past week. Notably, we stuffed our­selves sense­less at Willie & Reds in Hager­stown, Indi­ana; I had nev­er heard of the place before, much less eat­en there, but their smörgås­bor­d’s food was deli­cious, the selec­tion right up my alley. I’m glad Jade intro­duced me to it! It was, I think, our sec­ond choice; I want­ed to revis­it the restau­rant we ate at in Meta­mo­ra, Indi­ana, on our wed­ding day, but they’ve since closed down.

Three years does­n’t seem like such a long time, but Jade and I have been togeth­er since my daugh­ter was about a year and a half old; she’s five now, so damn near lit­er­al­ly, Jade and I have been togeth­er for a life­time, if not our own life­time, yet. 

In that time, we have grown as a fam­i­ly, with Jade pro­vid­ing many dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on so much that goes into par­ent­ing, giv­en that our upbring­ings and adult lives were dif­fer­ent from each oth­er. In many ways, we bal­ance each oth­er out, and it’s my daugh­ter who reaps the ben­e­fits. She does­n’t remem­ber a life before Jade, and it is my hope that she nev­er has to expe­ri­ence life with­out her.

It’s been a joy watch­ing the two of them grow togeth­er, and so often, Jade has been the impe­tus in push­ing me for­ward as a par­ent or in help­ing Anya take her next steps, whether it was encour­ag­ing me to hide the paci­fiers or in tak­ing a week­end with Anya while I was hav­ing to work to get her pret­ty much pot­ty trained in antic­i­pa­tion of her rapid­ly approach­ing first day of preschool.

For my part, I know I’m not always the eas­i­est per­son with which to get along; for exam­ple, I can be rather direct or blunt in my casu­al speech, which can eas­i­ly be inter­pret­ed as impa­tience or frus­tra­tion, and I know that gets on Jade’s nerves. I know her con­tin­ued giv­ing of trust to me has been an uphill bat­tle in the after­math of my post-faith cri­sis of self back in mid 12012 to ear­ly 12014. 1 For all of that, I am extreme­ly grate­ful and count myself for­tu­nate to have Jade in not only my life but my daugh­ter’s as well.

Not a lot has changed in my life, though. My gad­gets have got­ten cool­er, my car repairs have become more fre­quent, and I’ve actu­al­ly begun com­plet­ing more of my video games rather than sim­ply col­lect­ing them to try briefly pri­or to let­ting them col­lect dust on a shelf.2

I’ve been play­ing No Man’s Sky a lot late­ly. I was an ear­ly adopter of the game last year, despite know­ing very lit­tle about the game or the hype sur­round­ing it. What lit­tle I knew about the game (“end­less explo­ration of an infi­nite uni­verse” would sum up all I knew, actu­al­ly) had me extreme­ly hyped, and the game deliv­ered on that promise, and for sev­er­al weeks after it came out, I enjoyed it, even talk­ing one of my best friends into get­ting it as well.3 How­ev­er, it seemed as though the con­sen­sus opin­ion about the game was that it was unfin­ished and under­whelm­ing. In ret­ro­spect, I can under­stand why; tons of fea­tures were adver­tised to have been in the game which were com­plete­ly absent when the title launched.

It’s been over a year now, and devel­op­er Hel­lo Games has released sev­er­al mas­sive updates to the game, bet­ter­ing already present fea­tures, adding expan­sive new fea­tures, and in gen­er­al mak­ing their project seem like an all-new game, much clos­er to what was orig­i­nal­ly promised with more con­tent com­ing. Also, they’ve released all of these updates for free, doing their absolute best to fix what has been near­ly uni­ver­sal­ly regard­ed as a com­plete­ly bro­ken project. It is this ded­i­ca­tion, com­bined with how much I’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky, which will have me watch­ing for what­ev­er comes next from Hel­lo Games.

Oh, and Don­ald Trump has become the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. War — nuclear war — with North Korea is a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty. Peo­ple of col­or are still protest­ing for fair jus­tice, and far too much of Amer­i­ca, includ­ing our Pres­i­dent, dis­miss­es them as being dis­re­spect­ful to a song and a piece of cloth. Mass shoot­ings hap­pen just about dai­ly in the Unit­ed States; when they are big enough, they cap­ture the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion for a few day, then we for­get about them. A total solar eclipse was vis­i­ble across Amer­i­ca in a stripe begin­ning in the north­west and end­ing in the east, and the event brought to light just how sore­ly need­ed bet­ter sci­ence edu­ca­tion is in Amer­i­ca, as peo­ple across the nation not only looked direct­ly at the eclipse with the naked eye (oh, the Pres­i­dent did that too) but plen­ty of peo­ple won­dered how we could pre­dict eclipses so per­fect­ly so far in advance.4 Mod­ern day Nazis and Klans­men march open­ly in the streets of some areas of the Unit­ed States; and oh, our Pres­i­dent defends them. Pop­u­lar march­es for sci­ence and women took place ear­li­er this year, and we’ve prompt­ly moved past them because safe march­es and protests that you’d feel com­fort­able bring­ing chil­dren to are protests and march­es that can safe­ly be ignored by those in charge; march­es and protests must be so much more than a social gath­er­ing with clever signs and end­less pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ties. The Pres­i­dent insists that he’ll end the hor­ri­ble per­se­cu­tion faced by Chris­tians in Amer­i­ca. Sex­u­al assault alle­ga­tions against one of the for­mer­ly most pow­er­ful men in Hol­ly­wood have come out, and because he’s a Demo­c­rat, con­ser­v­a­tives are blast­ing him, despite mak­ing Don­ald “Grab ‘Em by the Pussy” Trump the leader of their par­ty. And. So. Much. More.

Grow­ing up, his­to­ry nev­er was my forte; I strug­gled to remem­ber peo­ple, places, dates, and events on test days, and I tend­ed to put all the bad stuff we learned about square­ly in the past. It nev­er occurred to me because I rarely dwelled on his­to­ry long enough that all the bad stuff was the same bad stuff over and over in dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal contexts.

And now we’re liv­ing through that bad stuff: racists and reli­gious fanat­ics are doing all that they can to frac­ture Amer­i­ca irrev­o­ca­bly. We’ve allowed being elect­ed to Pres­i­dent a man who has worked tire­less­ly on the days when he isn’t golf­ing, watch­ing TV, tweet­ing, or oth­er­wise not work­ing to undo all the progress made by a man who is in every way his bet­ter: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

We live under a Pres­i­dent who would enshrine Chris­tian­i­ty as law, make feal­ty to Amer­i­ca and its sym­bols manda­to­ry, enforce his agen­da with nuclear war­heads, cre­ate state-run media to replace the free mar­ket of ideas, and so much more. While it is for­tu­nate that our gov­ern­ment does­n’t allow a Pres­i­dent to sim­ply burn Amer­i­ca to the ground in such a fash­ion, it is deeply dis­con­cert­ing just how many of cit­i­zens still sup­port Trump and approve of the things he says.

Inter­est­ing times abound, and I often feel guilty for not using my plat­form here to speak out on the mat­ters at hand, nor do I tend to the #Sec­u­larNow project like I’d like to.

I need to fix that. Don­ald Trump walked away with the Unit­ed States pres­i­den­cy not because he won more votes5 but because too many lib­er­als chose to remain silent dur­ing not only elec­tion day but dur­ing the entire process.

Vot­ing is not enough. We must make noise. We must be will­ing to not only teach but to view the proud hate, big­otry, homo­pho­bia, misog­y­ny, trans­pho­bia, igno­rance, and so much more as the dis­eases that they are.

We must all speak up. We must drown out the worst parts of human soci­ety lest we remain for­ev­er divid­ed or worse.

  1. Why a five-dig­it year? Sim­ple: Human his­to­ry should­n’t be defined by the birth of a man who like­ly nev­er exist­ed. His­to­ry is broad­er than Chris­ten­dom, and so a five-dig­it year is used to rec­og­nize the approx­i­mate begin­ning of the human era, as well as the fact that human his­to­ry is much longer than just a few thou­sand years. The cal­en­dar is called the Holocene cal­en­dar, and we should all be using it.
  2. Some peo­ple col­lect stamps; oth­ers col­lect dolls. I tend to col­lect media, be it games or books or (more rarely) movies. I don’t col­lect for val­ue’s sake, though, mean­ing I nev­er have any rea­son to actu­al­ly be bored.
  3. This, nat­u­ral­ly, meant that not only did he buy the game but he became far more pro­fi­cient at it than I had. Flash for­ward a year, and now my broth­er has done just that as well. I trust that giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty, I could defeat them in Mario Kart 64 or Gold­en­Eye 007 with­out break­ing a sweat; that’s enough for me.
  4. Pre­dict­ing eclipses has been with­in our abil­i­ty for mil­len­nia; in ancient times, such pre­dic­tions were how astrologers proved their salt to their patrons.
  5. He did­n’t. Not by a long shot.

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Rick Beckman