From the series: Dispatches From A Damaged American Teaching English Abroad in Vietnam
It has been a while since I undertook the task of column writing. Maybe I’m serious about it this time. Maybe I really will post a few times a month. Maybe the pantheist energies this universe is soaked in knows, but I sure as hell don’t.
What I do know is that this is a nightmare scenario for liberals and may become one for traditional conservatives, and that news junkies out there with something critical and constructive to say need now more than ever to say it. For those of us who espouse liberal and conservative views, this is all bad weird.
Many things terrify the mind at the moment, but perhaps many of those things are not obvious. Yes, Trump is to be feared. And yes, his cabinet will line parapets and lob fire and stone and metal at years of progress just as ISIS used hammers and lunatic acolytes seeking meaning to destroy relics thousands of years old in a few days. But, the looming sense of doom is not that one man with a head of hair scalped from an orangutan was elected into power, the sense of doom arises from the way many decent, middle-of-the-road people are walking around saying things like “let’s just see what happens” and “maybe we should give him a chance”. It was wrong to assume that Obama when first and second elected would be able to do half the things he said he would, and it is wrong to think that Trump can — but we can’t just wait and see.
After all, some things that break cannot be fixed. Even children know this.
…It is a grim day despite all the sun. The rich of the world who do not care about people or the idea of a fair society are set to get richer and more powerful on waves of tax breaks and loosened restrictions in business and rights to drill on the increasingly befouled lands of the once pristine country, America, and the once pristine world at large. That will make life harder and deadlier for everyone else who cannot afford the best medicine or safe places to live. Just thinking about that raises bile and revulsion in throat and head – and those feelings tend to lead to rage and revolution, which are the natural precursors to change both good and bad. People out there benefit from causing all this destruction, and when they further remove themselves from the world behind their walls of money they avoid dealing with the consequences. That alone is a resounding reason to not tune out, to not turn off, to not wait and see.
The Anthropocene has long come – this age of humans and the extinction of life it is causing. These moments could solidify its course, and that’s why these moments are important, because if in say ten years time millions of people are dying of cholera while drowning in flood waters with nowhere, literally nowhere to go, if already impoverished farmers are tilling nothing but dust and shit crops, if the ability to move to another country riding your own merits and skills is extinguished… amongst so many others, there will be no going back.
After typing that, it seems ridiculous to even consider that going back is an option. I’m not even sure what that would mean? To some it would mean getting the carbon dioxide in the air back below 350 ppm. But others would take it to mean a more traditional time when women were treated even less well than they are now and gays weren’t causing man-man kissicanes and crotch-bulge wildfires with their gayness. We live in a time when people question the basics of science with the same sentiment as children who resolve conflict by asking “why?” until the other side just gives up or commits a felony.
Goddammit, this is all very hard to unpack. Like blindly reaching into a corrugated cardboard box full of packing peanuts and rusty, blood-crusted razors.
…So many reports came in stating the opposite would happen – and that made many of us lazy, myself included. Why bother writing about what I think? Focus on longer stories and let the Americans back in America handle it. After all, I’m just a lazy shit-brained, entitled and existentially messy Millennial who saw opportunity to make that big big money teaching English to foreigners in Southeast Asia, and lunged at it. Nothing American about that, right? Focus on anything but America. Focus on grades and where the next beer is and the adults in house do as they always do….
The other night at a local pub under bright yellow-glow lights spelling “ICE COLD BEER” a drunk non-American was harassing the room with his ideas of how Millennials caused “this fucking mess”. His logic was cloudy, at best, but it boiled down to a common and false denominator: Millennials are the worst generation. Period. Ever.
This of course is bullshit. Lazy, inarticulate, failed-logic bullshit. But, Millennials are a respectful but vocal lot, and so a debate ensued that is mostly what you’d expect from degenerate pub talk turned brutish pub rage-match, but the essentials can be boiled down to this point: he asserted that Millennials were somehow the cause for Trump’s election. The Millennials, ever vigilante to defend truth and justice when not tea-bagging each other online in Call of Duty matches looked at each other. But sir, the Millennials protested, look at this pictograph: most states, if only counting Millennial voters, voted Blue! Bullshit, the non-Millennial protested to the Millennials protested. Then, the Millennial who was bearing most of the verbal tripe asked something like: Have you thought about how the generation before your treated you? What they said about you? I mean, the previous generation always over-criticizes the current generation as a means of explaining the previous generations failure to properly setup the current generation. What did the generations before you say about you?
[Primary footnote: As of this writing Clinton exceeded Trump by 1.7 million votes, 22 Nov 2016.]
[Secondary footnote: The writer admits to taking creative liberty with the factual nature of said encounter but asserts that the core truth was preserved.]
[Tertiary footnote: The Internet needs to fucking figure out how to make footnotes easier to do.]
The conversation muddled quickly after that. Either the man had gotten too drunk or the Millennial had gotten him thinking about it, or both. But either way, there was not much more talk about it after that.
[Additional albeit unnecessary footnote: White House Down is playing on the television. Laughable how perfect that is.]
…It has been sunny in Saigon. Gorgeous weather. Too hot, sure. But that’s only complaint. Otherwise, nothing grim about it. But some of the last nights devolved into grim anger and staring at things no knowing what to think. My first reaction went something like: Well, times get strange, but we deal…. We remember that those proficient with bonfire maintenance deal with overgrown flames by getting their hands into the embers and pulling what they can off the top and putting dirt and water where you can and not flinching as the hair up to your elbows disappears. A weird sensation if you know it and are used to hair being on your arms.
That’s what this all feels like: A fucking bonfire.
And it took a bonfire to wake a lot of us up. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone wrote a good piece on that after the results came in. Noam Chomsky leveled comments that we can only hope don’t come true. And the bloated guttersnipe Alex Jones is rising in power spewing his nonsense about Sandy Hook and 9/11 and whatever else can get him attention.
That’s the thing that scares me, the people who are winning or just won right now are riding a wave of minds who routinely break down their perception of reality into moments of “I’ll believe this” and “I won’t believe this”. The people who think the world is 5,000 years old. People who think climate change is a hoax. That’s the danger, goddammit. That’s what’s going to fuck the people in the world. The world itself, as George Carlin noted, will still be here. It’s going to be fine. It’s humans who are fucked.