It’s not enough to just be not racist. We have to be anti-racist. That means constant self-evaluation and work. While not exclusive to people who look like me, it is the work of majority to make sure that minorities are not excluded.
So I’ve decided that as Facebook becomes ever more difficult, I’m going to be copying some of my content from there to here, in preparation for the platform imploding. I don’t know if I can backdate the posts or not, but I’ll put “originally published” at the top of each post or something. I won’t be copying over FB comments, however.
My dear Bagginses and Boffins, Tooks and Brandybucks, Grubbs, Chubbs, Hornblowers, Bolgers, Bracegirdles and Proudfoots.
Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday!
Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
I have things to do. I’ve put this off for far too long. I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell.
Originally published as two separate posts on April 6 and April 7, 2018. I have chosen to republish it now, because it remains very relevant in September of 2020.
Today I worked from home, but left in the afternoon to come down to a going away party for another SingleHopper.
Getting into Union Station at 5pm means you’re the one late salmon swimming upstream, so I walked a slightly different way to get out of the station, which means I came out slightly more west than I normally do. As I headed north, west of the river, I came upon a young man, somewhere in his 20s, clearly homeless, cold, hungry, sitting on the freezing ground, and wracked with body-shaking sobs of despair.
And of course, since it was just after five, there were hundreds of people walking past him, ignoring or pretending to ignore him.
I was late to the party. I could have kept walking. I almost did keep walking, but I stopped instead.
I actually had a few dollar bills – not enough, of course, but I got them out to give to him. And I knelt down next to him and touched him on the arm to try to reach through his sorrow, and the first, ridiculous, heartbreaking thing he said to me was,
“I’m sorry. I’ve been so depressed.”
And part of me wanted to laugh in disbelief, and part of me wanted to weep in horror.
So I swallowed all of that, and gave him the money and asked him if I could buy him something to eat, which he turned down because someone had given him some granola bars earlier that day.
I tried to convince him to let me get him something, but he wouldn’t budge, and just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean I get to insist you take more of my charity than you want. So I said “good luck” and went on my way. The party was fun, and I got to see my friends, and we all spent money that probably could have been used better on drinks and ping-pong at the most ridiculous bar.
Of course, I looked for him on the way back to the train, but he wasn’t there. I’ll look for him more. But before I do, I’ll get to sleep in my bed, in my house, with my dearest wife, after checking on my amazing children, and then tomorrow, I’ll go to an event to be with other friends to watch people hit other people with sticks. And I’ll feel simultaneously overjoyed and terribly guilty about it.
But under all of it? Is all this:
Life is short and hard and the black dog always wins in the end. I spend a fair amount of my time bewildered about how and why human beings are terrible to each other.
We are failing as a country. As a people. As a planet. We have got to do better. I didn’t post this so people will tell me how great I am. I’m not. I left him there, and for all I know he’ll be dead before morning. And I left him there anyway.
People think I have no sense of humor. People think I’m too political. People think I waste my time posting memes about overturning the established order. Well, this is partly why. Because sometimes I cannot think of anything else to do.
There are so many empty houses in America, we could house everyone. There’s so much food we could feed everyone. But instead, we’re obsessed with quarterly profits and shareholders.
Sure, I stopped and treated another human being with respect and caring and gave him a couple bucks so he could have some food, but in reality, I should never have had the interaction in the first place. He shouldn’t have been there.
Everyone should have shelter. Everyone should have food. Everyone should have health care.
Today on Andreas’ Admonitions (one in a continuing series I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write):
Just because you’ve never gotten push-back on your troublesome opinions before doesn’t make them not troublesome. It just means that either people don’t feel safe around you, or other people are trying to curry favor with you because you hold influence and power in an activity that they value. It means you need to grow as an individual. Power doesn’t make you a good person.
What you do with that power reflects what kind of person you are.
In addition, the structure and boundaries of relationships between Peers and their dependents are wholly private and unofficial and have nothing to do with the rules of the SCA. Here’s what is governed by SCA rules: a person’s conduct in accordance with the SCA’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.
I’ve written before about how social media has changed the SCA both for the better and the worse. There are people I consider good friends that I never would have gotten to know without Facebook. There are also people who I have let go of because they showed us who they really are. It is my personal choice who I directly associate with; the SCA has no authority over that.
I do not believe that you can be a racist and be a good peer. I do not believe that you can be a homophobe “in real life” and leave your bigotry at the gate. I do not believe that 1000+ word screeds about how BLM is a group of communist terrorists, or refusing to recognize someone’s gender identity, or their marriage, are “closely held opinions”. Indeed, when they’re posted publicly on Facebook, it’s no different than broadcasting them over the radio, shouting them through a megaphone, or putting them up on a billboard. These are not simply speech.
They are an action.
And when someone who espouses these beliefs repeatedly is called on it by people who are no longer willing to be cowed or tone-policed, that’s not doxing; that’s simply consequences. Words mean things. Doxing has a specific definition.
Reporting bad behavior with supporting screenshots is not doxing.
The SCA is a private organization, and as such is not only allowed to decide who may participate but is required to adhere to certain standards. The membership cannot ignore the fact that the SCA Inc is a US Not For Profit organization, subject to modern laws and regulations that also govern conduct.
If the SCA stands for Chivalry, Honor, and Integrity, then it must stand for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity, and it cannot stand for Prejudice, Exclusivity, and Homogeneity.
We all need to examine our internal biases. We all need to apologize for the harms we have done. We all need to strive to do better. We all need to lift each other up.
Write to the Board in support of our progress, be kind, and be safe.
I’ve posted about this clip before. About how much I love it, about how it’s the best scene in Doctor Who, even though I don’t really much like Amy Pond.
I’ve been thinking about it today, and why it affects me as deeply as it does. Part of it is just that it’s well written and well acted. It’s a moving moment.
But here’s the thing: a lot of us (in general) feel like they’re not having an affect on the people around them. That we don’t really make much of a difference. I felt like that for a very long time indeed, and I convinced myself that if I just tried harder, and did more, it would finally be enough that folks would recognize it.
Van Gogh died in pain, demoralized, mentally ill, believing himself to be a failure. And he died not knowing how his art affected the world.
We can prevent that. We can tell each other that we love them, that we value their contributions, that even the smallest act can be an act of love and support.
In these days of social distancing and anger, despair is insidious and runs silent and deep. So reach out to the people around you. Show them how much you mean to them. Because as much as I wish it was so, no madman with a box is going to show up and take you into the future so that you can see how you fared in the history books.
We need to be each-others’ madmen in a box. Send a text or a DM. Actually call someone up on the phone (did you even know that your cell phone could connect you for real-time audio communication?). Set up a zoom. Comment on FB posts. It doesn’t have to be much.
I see you. I appreciate you. You matter. I love you.
Today is Laura’s birthday. We’ve been married for over 12 years, and together something like fifteen? I think so. I know the anniversary of our first date, but sometimes I can’t remember the year. I’ll have to go look it up on Live Journal. And we were essentially dating long distance before that anyway.
Here’s the thing. We fight. We have endless conversations that don’t resolve. We interpret things differently. We’ve hurt each other, through mistakes or negligence. But I remember the feeling of walking with her on that December morning, both of us recovering from disastrous breakups, and thinking “is it possible that she’s the one?”
We made it possible. We made it happen. We’ve survived illness, financial issues, and a dozen other issues (many of them my own stupid fault) that would have broken other couples. We decided that we weren’t going to let it break us.
One of the things I’ve been trying to do for Laura almost as long as we’ve been together is write her a song, and I don’t know, it just hasn’t worked. Nothing I’ve been able to write down has approached the depths of the feelings I have, the love and appreciation I have for this woman, this mother, this wife, this amazing person that I have had the luck and the fortitude and perseverance and desire to be with and stay with.
There’s a link to an Avett Brothers song in the comments that doesn’t come close either, but I like it.
And maybe that song is going to get written after all. I think I have part of a chorus.
“Even looking back at all we’ve been through I’d start all over with you.”
I love you, Jibba Groo. I went back through your photos and made this collage. It’s a snapshot, at least, of a lot of good memories. Maybe we can get it developed at the Walgreens!