I’m a weirdo. As I write this, I’m sitting in a punk rock coffee shop listening to industrial death metal, wearing a Harvard sweatshirt looking like an ivy league dweeb. If there was a scene or an image that could quickly sum me up to show a stranger who I am, this might be it. This, or an image of myself a couple of weeks ago at Minneapolis’s other punk rock coffee shop with a copy of both The Fountainhead and Essential Works Of Socialism to keep me company on a sunny Sunday afternoon, surrounded by soiled, angry youth, and outcasts of all ages and stripes. Those two books, for what it’s worth, say a lot about who I am and what’s important to me. They’re both a portal into my beliefs, attitudes, and experiences, and a challenge to others to come sit with me and discuss their contents. But more on that later.
I am both a voracious reader and vociferous debater. The former is a solitary activity, but I am by nature an extrovert. Thus, I spend a lot of time discussing, debating, and commenting on society and political events and topics, primarily over email and on Facebook. This is quite enjoyable, and some might say Facebook is its own reward, and sometimes I might agree. But while I thoroughly enjoy the frequent and immediate back and forth, the daily scrum, the hair-raising political battles, this form of discussion, as we all know, can be shallow, negative, and even toxic. And that was true before our nation’s current chief executive found his way into the white house. Now it often seems that political discourse in America has turned into a sticky, boiling vat of tar, both in person and online. There has been a tendency towards disengagement lately, largely if not primarily to avoid the stench of people who disagree with our politics, and in a more benign way, simply to avoid conflict and to deliberately NOT destroy our relationships with those whom we love but do not see eye-to-eye with.
I personally have found myself having fewer and fewer discussions and debates about politics with both strangers and people I care about in the last year. Some of this seems like a healthy disengagement and a way to keep our relationships focused on the things we like about each other and the things we have in common, to focus on the positive and not create unnecessary arguments constantly and over every little thing. But part of it is because every little disagreement these days has the potential to turn on a dime into a kind of cliched, codependent, petty fight reminiscent of an alcoholic household or abusive relationship, complete with the predictable trigger points and well-worn scripts of insult and reaction.
This experience has led me to a point where I’m starting to believe that dialogue, as much as I love to engage in it, is no longer constructive in my life, or worse, cannot be constructive. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this. In addition, the shallow, “commenting in between important things” political posting and debates I’ve been having for a long time now are feeling less and less fulfilling. On top of this, I feel like I actually do have things of substance to say on many topics, ideas that are both original and interesting. I believe that my life experience as a weirdo and an outsider with many different identities and “from” many different places physically and intellectually offers me a perspective that few have and that allows me a unique and meaningful insight into many issues and aspects of society.
Which brings me to my blog. I have had a writing bug my entire life, and simply put, I have decided it’s time to stop thinking and start writing. Stop posting my thoughts in two-sentence snippets in between brushing my teeth and leaving for work (clever though I may be when doing so), and start sitting down to slowly and deliberately gather, construct, and share my thoughts. Stop trying to engage people on emotional political topics that will only end in shattered glass and feelings, and start putting forth a coherent worldview and philosophy that I both urgently need to express, and that I think the world could use right now. Stop posting into the void and start writing to make my words mean something.
This blog will have a voice. This blog will have an opinion. I am not neutral as to most topics of discussion, and I have strong feelings on how to make a better world just like everyone else. But this blog will not be part of the partisan vitriol that has poisoned this country and political discourse in the 21st century. I am not interested in demonizing anybody, no matter how much we disagree about the solutions to our problems. That is exactly the problem with politics, the radicals have taken over the media, the political leadership, and the streets. The inmates are running the asylum, the worst people and the worst impulses in us all are elevated and inspired, and the moderate, tolerant, rational voices and impulses are drowned out if not explicitly and deliberately shouted down.
I am here to contribute to changing that, to do my little part in my little corner of the world to be a positive voice, a moderate voice, a rational voice, in a world that seems to value none of these traits of late. I will be writing on many of the usual suspects in this arena: daily politics, timely issues, economics, culture, race, class, and the like. But I will also be using this forum to write thoughtful and interesting things about other topics that I care about and invest in, things like music, film, philosophy, and general thoughts on the timeless human condition. I hope to have something original to say, something valuable to contribute, and I hope that you will enjoy it with me and walk away with some interesting and fun ideas to ponder, and engage and discuss with me as we try to make it through this fraught and tense time in our nation’s history.
Welcome to my blog, and thanks for reading.