Tag: feminism

The Lessons Within “The Last Jedi”

Be advised: there will be spoilers in this treatise. I can’t discuss what I want to discuss without getting into detail about the plot and the arcs of the film’s characters. Fairly be ye warned.

Before I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I heard about all of the negative takes on it, all of the review-bombing, all of the neckbeard hatred getting spewed all over the Internet. It made me more than a little angry; the troglodytes and trolls who march to the drum of GamerGate and the myth of misandry and the Nazi party simply can’t take a hint, which is frustrating. I resolved to avoid spoilers as much as possible before I finally saw the film.

And now that I have, the vile vitriol of these chuckleheads is just downright amusing to me.

The whole point of The Last Jedi is that we need to let go of our pasts. In order to truly move forward, to be better versions of ourselves, we have to do away with preconceived expectations and deal with the now, in order to build a better future for ourselves and those we love. Above all, we have to learn from our mistakes.

And everybody in The Last Jedi makes mistakes.

Courtesy Lucasfilm

Let’s not mince words, here. The mistakes made by Poe get a lot of people killed. From the very beginning, Poe’s “take the fight to the enemy” attitude costs the Resistance the bulk of their fighting forces. He goes one step further when he disobeys Admiral Holdo’s orders to support her and hold their course. She knows Poe is reckless, that his macho never-say-die swagger and desperate plans are an unknown factor she cannot trust. And that lack of trust got under Poe’s skin so much that he sent Finn and Rose on a wildly dangerous mission and lead a mutiny against Holdo’s command. Poe made his mark in our lives, and in the life of Finn, by being an ace pilot and a bit of a maverick; it is these aspects he must face and overcome in order to grow. He — and we — erroneously believe that those things are always good things, when the reality is that it pays to dial back the recklessness and seat-of-the-pants ‘handsome rogue’ routine when other people are counting on you. That sort of thing, in times of crisis, can be downright toxic or even deadly.

Finn makes plenty of missteps in his own story. He is “a man who wants to run,” and that’s still his first instinct. Granted, it’s to undertake a desperate plan to get the First Order off of the back of the Resistance, but it’s still running away, on his own. Rose intervenes and finds a way to go with him; this does not stop him from continuing to fail. Even after he finally decides to stop running and dedicate himself to the cause of the Resistance — which, incidentally, is why the sequence in the casino matters — he keeps making mistakes. At the climax of the story, he puts himself in a position to make a “heroic” sacrifice in a suicide attempt to destroy a First Order weapon; Rose denies him that, doing serious damage to herself, but “saving what we love” is a better way to seek victory. She’s right, Finn screwed up one last time, and you can tell from the expression on his face that he’s going to learn from this mistake.

Courtesy LucasFilm

Learning from failure is something Luke Skywalker needs to do, as well. He got ahead of himself and operated under the assumption that the old Jedi Order was something that needed to be preserved. In his hubris, he completely mishandled the training of his nephew and gave rise to an individual who ultimately becomes the Supreme Leader of the First Order. He is so struck by the completeness of his failure that he removes himself entirely from the rest of the galaxy. It is only through Rey, her determination to carve out her own place in the scheme of things, and her unflagging belief in the idea of the Force as something that guides and protects, that Luke is shaken out of his depression and forces himself to come face to face with his mistakes. It is only through Rey — whose lessons are reinforced by Master Yoda — that Luke learns from those mistakes and manages to make a difference, saving lives in the process. Even perhaps, in the long run, the life of Kylo Ren.

Few characters exemplify toxic masculinity as completely as Kylo Ren. His power and potential are regarded with fear by his parents and his uncle. Snoke takes him in only to abuse him and exploit him. His alienation and isolation cause him to turn to the memory of his grandfather and the fascist scheme that created Darth Vader. Moreso than Armitage Hux, a power-hungry despot who fetishizes the Empire’s military might and comprehensive brainwashing, Kylo longs to be relevant and powerful. Since so much of his life has been out of his control, he wishes to seize control, and the only way in which he’s been shown to do so is by force. He and Hux both want to be bigger, badder, more powerful, and more famous than their predecessors. If that’s not a manifestation of the alt-right zeitgeist, I don’t know what is.

Courtesy LucasFilm

Is there a redemptive path for Kylo Ren the way there is for Luke, Finn, and Poe? It’s difficult to say. He comes across to Rey as someone who wishes to help her, to become her ally. Partially due to seeking a relationship that is not abusive, and partially because he merely wishes to posses her, he reaches out to her, coming dangerously close to being ‘seduced’ by the Light. Rey, for her part, feels the pull of the Dark Side, the quick and easy path to power that promises to fix all of the problems in her life and in the galaxy. These are two characters who have been tossed about by tides of life far beyond their control, and who wish to make their own way forward. Kylo’s biggest mistake is in trying to tell Rey that his way is best. He both offers her insight and mansplains the Force to her. He does everything he can to win her over — not necessarily in a romantic sense, but to prove that even in recruiting a follower, in using methods other than abuse and force, he’s better than Snoke.

Rey, for her part, holds onto her belief in herself. She’s always been a person who reaches down into the depths of her own being to find strength, power, and answers. She turned to Luke because the Force was something she barely understood, and he encouraged her to feel it on her own terms to find her own purpose, as he did when he was young. It occurs to me that if he’d taken this approach with Ben, rather than adhering to what Jedi Order teachings he was trying desperately to preserve, things might have been different. But having made that mistake, he tries to learn from it and gives Rey the instruction she needs — the answers lie within oneself, in our own light and darkness, and it is we who must make the choices that decide the course we take. To Rey, discovering that the Force is not unlike the path of self-reliance that’s guided her until this point is the sort of epiphany we all seek — it’s as simple as it is empowering.

Courtesy LucasFilm

I know that I’m not the first to see The Last Jedi in this way, but I hope that in taking things point by point, character by character, I can illustrate why I feel this is a better film than Empire Strikes Back — it has more to say. To me, the best science fiction, even a fantastical space western where people hack off each other’s limbs with laser swords, says something about our society at large. If anything, Empire Strikes Back is a time capsule that latches onto the fears of its time. The characters are betrayed by friends and crushed by enemies. But these are things that happen to them, not because of them, with the exception of Luke’s decision to try and rescue his friends. The Last Jedi gives us active characters across the board whose choices, especially their wrong choices, shape the story that unfolds, rather than allowing it to unfold around them. If the story of Empire Strikes Back is one of fear, The Last Jedi is one of determination. And that will always be more empowering and more meaningful than fear.

Poe, Finn, and Luke all become determined to learn from their mistakes, to turn their failures into lessons that can be applied towards making the galaxy a better place. That’s what makes them heroic, not the explosions they cause or the sword fights they have. Kylo is blind to his flaws and failures, for the most part, and that’s what makes him villainous. The film is not merely saying “here is what toxic masculinity is”; it goes on to say “and here is how you can be better than it, if you stop and think and learn how.” Our heroes need to fight themselves just as much as they need to fight their enemies, and as exciting as their face-offs with their enemies might be, their struggles to overcome themselves and their pasts is, to me, far more meaningful.

Courtesy LucasFilm

I love this film. I love that its female characters are strong, determined, and supportive. I love that its male characters are flawed, insecure, and emotional. Nobody’s dumb, and nobody’s a caricature. These feel like real people. You can understand them, empathize with them, and desire to see them improve and grow — even a character like Kylo Ren. “You can be better than this,” I want to say to Kylo, as much as to many other people that have been in my life. “Why aren’t you better than this?”

The Last Jedi, in addition to being an exciting sci-fi adventure, a well-shot and nuanced film, and a worthy continuation of one of the greatest sagas of our time, is a living example of how we can learn from our failures and overcome our flaws. It shows us people, men in particular, who have fucked up and possess the strength and wherewithal to learn from it, to do better, get better, be better. This isn’t just something that applies to us now, even if the film is cast within a certain encapsulation of our current socio-political climate. It’s a timeless lesson, one that I myself have had to learn, and that will never lose its edge or its power as we move into a future that, one hopes, is better and more prosperous than the past we will, and must, leave behind.

Courtesy LucasFilm

That’s the whole point of it. Learning from our mistakes means letting go of our past. Stop fetishizing those things you hold dear, stop falling back on old habits and lines of thought, stop trying to force the world to conform to your point of view. Instead, look within yourself at your failures and flaws, learn what you can from those choices, and dedicate yourself to overcoming the obstacles you’ve created for yourself on a path to being a better person. Only then will you make the world a better place. You won’t do it by screaming at everyone else how wrong they are about things and calling them names.

As much as I laugh at the enraged fanboys, I can’t help but pity them. They completely miss the point.

That, to paraphrase Master Yoda, is how you fail.

Learn from those failures, or be defined by them.

It’s your choice.

The Patriarchy’s Poison

Courtesy Zazzle

Given the current state of affairs at home and abroad, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we got here. When you get right down to it, the root of the problem is what needs to be addressed. As bad as things can seem with the in-your-face nature of the situation in the now, my head tends to look past the bluster and the bullshit. We need to strike at the heart of the matter, not just the gushing wound. We need to go deeper.

It’s great that not only are we as a society becoming more aware of the patriarchy’s role in shaping the world in which we live, but also that we are actively rolling up our sleeves to work against it. That being said, I feel that at times, we lose sight of fighting the patriarchy itself, and instead throw ourselves at the perceived vectors of it. I’m not saying this is inherently bad or wrong — no tactic in fighting the patriarchy is inherently invalid — but for my part, I want to focus my energy on drilling into the heart of the matter to find the source of this endemic rot. In other words, I feel I’m in a different division of the army arrayed against the system: some hammer against the walls, whereas I want do my utmost to undermine them. Both divisions are dedicated to the same goal, we just have different marching orders.

Anyway. On to my point.

The systems of the patriarchy have been in place for centuries, if not millennia. Among it’s toxic structures, learned behaviors, and pattern arguments is a fundamental method of conflict resolution:

“You must diminish another individual to accomplish your goals.”

It’s one thing to take corrective action, to take an individual aside and address a problematic behavior or a decision that had toxic consequences or hurt someone else. It’s another to demonize said individual merely on the face of their actions. The passionate pursuit of justice has become a defining aspect of today’s feminists, activists, and radicals. While this is admirable, there’s evidence pointing to a growing trend for some to use that aspect as a tool for self-advancement in a social circle or given zeitgeist. This is a vestige of the patriarchy, and it’s just as toxic and just as destructive as a problematic behavior or decision that needs to be addressed.

We cannot and should not excuse or explain away bad behavior or hurtful decisions, no matter how they were made or what the mental state was at the time. Actions have consequences, and when those consequences hurt or diminish another, the action must be addressed. But it must be addressed with a response, rather than a retort. A response is measured, direct, face-to-face, comprehensive, complex, and above all, done with love in one’s heart for oneself and the other alike. We’re all in this together, after all. A retort is knee-jerk, rooted in the heated emotion of the moment, triggered by fear or a previous harmful or toxic experience, and has far more to do with the person reacting than the inciting incident. It’s harder to respond, since it takes time, the clarity to imagine the other complexly, and the wherewithal to hold space for yourself as well as the other as sovereign individuals entitled by right to equality. It’s easy to retort — and the patriarchy is all about doing what’s easy.

Taking the thoughts and actions required to provide a measured response can be perceived as evidence of weakness, and even an invitation for abuse. There’s a delay that comes when we take a moment to think, if not merely to breathe. The ‘traditions’ of the patriarchy teach us that such delays are openings for us to get our points in, like daggers into a threat on our lives, regardless if whether or not the person in question with whom we’re trying to reason has turned their back to take a moment to gather themselves. We see the opportunity, and we stab one another in the back, and we feel justified, even vindicated, in the aftermath. We proved our point. We prevailed. Justice is done! The monster is slain! Everybody, check out this righteous kill and the utter hideousness of this thing that I stabbed to death! Go team!

I hope you can see why this behavior is toxic.

Courtesy LucasArts

That’s the point I’m getting at. The systems perpetuated in the spirit of the patriarchy have taught us the wrong things. We impulsively jump at the chance to prove our worth and our dedication to being an ally or smashing the patriarchy by punching whatever or whomever is in front of us right in the face. This is not to say we shouldn’t punch Nazis — I’m not an advocate for violence, but come on, punching Nazis — rather, I am suggesting that we not punch each other in the same way we punch Nazis.

I realize I’m mostly speaking within the echo chamber of ‘social justice’ folks and feminists. And that’s my intent. At this point, it’d be very difficult for members of the old guard to have this form of self-awareness or critical thought. Their learned behaviors are too deeply ingrained; their pattern arguments are too well-worn and comfortable. Addressing the nature of the fuel in their toxicity is another matter. Today, in this moment, realizing that we, too, have learned toxic behaviors and lash out with harmful retorts is something we all need to be doing.

I haven’t been as active as I would like to be in supporting the resistance. But I’ve been paying attention. And for every call for unity and collective strength in smashing the systems that put us where we are and allowed the ridiculous circus of narcissistic demagogues to seize power, there are those who wish to ‘weed out the weak’ among us. Yes, we need to address the harmful things we can say and do to one another in the midst of all of this stress and struggle. But we can do it without diminishing the other, but rather attempting to help them be and do better. We can help one another up without having to cast anyone down. And we certainly don’t need to perpetuate the broken and misguided goal of pushing ourselves forward by shoving somebody else back.

To prevail against our enemy, we must not think, speak, or act as they enemy does. We must know them, but not become them.

Each of us risks becoming the very monsters we desire to slay.

The true monster is the system, it is a thing. And people, regardless of the individual choices they make, in spite of the moments and retorts that fly in the face of their true natures, the people they could be — people are not things.

If we treat one another more like people, and less like things, even if the person in question has been acting more thing-like than person-like, we are already one step ahead of the enemy.

And that single step can make a world of difference for a person who’s just as worthy of love and liberty as you are.

Wednesdays I wonder at the world in which we live.

Retaliation vs. Retribution

Ghandi

I have hackles. I have more hackles than I’d like to admit. And when they get raised, it isn’t a pretty sight. I’m someone that believes that people in general should be treated with respect and understanding, And when they aren’t, be it in meatspace or on the Internet, I get angry about it. I cannot grok why patience and comprehension are so anathema to another human being. I get frustrated when someone cannot or will not imagine the other complexly. It makes me downright mad.

But how do I channel that emotion into effective change, and not just rage at the offense in impotence?

There is a difference, I feel, between retaliation and retribution. It’s the difference between revenge and justice. Societal standards of what constitutes justice can vary wildly in different parts of the world. Even in an internally demarcated entity like the United States, laws differ in wording, intent, or even existence from polity to polity, despite the presence of a unified overarching government.

I don’t think that changes the fact that people should expect a baseline level of respect, understanding, and compassion from other people.

Leaving aside arguments of semantics and specific polity laws, things like harassment and assault of all kinds, from verbal and emotional to physical and psychological, are revolting acts undertaken by petty or callous people. With selfish myopia and a twisted sense of what qualifies as ‘humor’, the perpetrators of such impersonal and belittling acts are not interested in promoting human well-being or making the world a better place; they are only in it for themselves, their advancement or amusement, no matter what the cost is on their victims. While I have seen examples of this in my personal experience, the most prevalent and extant environment in which these acts occur is the Internet. This is the realm of anonymous inhuman verbal assault. It is the realm of the ‘troll’.

Getting trolled or bullied online is something that’s existed since some person saw some other person do something they didn’t agree with, for whatever reason, and decided to use their anonymity to lash out. More recently, death and bomb threats against people based on their gender and opinions and SWAT teams being called down on opponents in a video game have become prominent examples of this endemic problem. But how does one go about addressing or correcting the issue without making it a simple and ultimately pointless act of personal vengeance?

Some people would say that the problem is non-existent or not that problematic. Others say that people – the victims, mostly – need to “grow a thicker skin” or “get over it”. This attitude, itself, is part of the problem, as it demonstrates a callousness towards the very real anguish people go through when they are personally attacked, belittled, harassed, objectified, or threatened. Just because one have never been a victim, or cannot imagine what it is like to be victimized, does not mean that a standard of justice is inconceivable or unobtainable.

The difference between retaliation and retribution is that retaliation is as personal and selfish an act as the assault itself. Retribution is calling upon a greater authority to visit justice upon the offender. In other words, if one party calls another a racial slur in the workplace, and the second party responds in kind or with violence, that is retaliation. If the second party, instead, brings the matter before their supervisor or a higher authority, that is retribution. In a similar vein, a police officer using extreme force on someone (say, someone stopped for a moving violation being arrested, detained, and murdered) getting shot down in the street is retaliation. That officer getting publicly reprimanded and, one hopes, stripped of their authority is retribution.

We need more avenues for retribution when someone is harassed, bullied, or singled out due to their race, gender, orientation, or outlook. We do not have the capacity to completely comprehend the circumstances of the others around us. We do, however, have the capacity to desire an amount of respect for ourselves, and to expect and demand the same for those around us in our lives. When the fear that overtakes a victim keeps them from seeking justice, it falls to us around them, in our communities and society, to counteract their fear (and, in some cases, overcome our own) in the pursuit of justice. And when that respect is undermined, ignored, or outright demolished, we have a duty to act as vectors of retribution upon the offenders. It is the only way we will progress as a species. It is the only way we prove we’re better than mere animals. It is the only way the better world so many dream of and strive for will survive.

Walk the Fury Road

Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet? … Seriously? Have you not been on the Internet at all? Are you not aware of how universally praised this film is by (almost) everyone? I want to discuss why there’s a parenthetical “almost” there, but I think that’ll work best if you’ve seen the movie. So turn off your browser, saddle up, and head to the cinema.

Go on.

I’ll wait.

Okay. Back safely?

WAS THAT NOT AMAZING?

Courtesy HugoHugo
“We Can Do It (Furiously)” by HugoHugo

I think it’s safe to say that Mad Max: Fury Road is the best film of the series George Miller has been responsible for over the course of the last three decades. It is, in no uncertain terms, the Platonic ideal of the lone nearly-silent protagonist in a post-apocalyptic wasteland getting drawn into adventures not of his own making. It’s Fallout with less nostalgic music or Americana kitsch, more bizarre muscle cars and screaming guitar riffs.

(Was that rig with the suspended guitarist whose axe had a flamethrower not the BEST?)

Mad Max has spoken to fans for years and years. The lone adventurer in the desolation of the devastated Outback, wheeling and dealing for gasoline in the midst of outlandish bandits and barely-alive survivors really speaks to the independent streak in young men. He’s tough, taciturn, capable, and above all, crazy enough to do wicked cool and highly dangerous stunts and get into fights out of his weight class. At least, that’s how Mel Gibson played the character.

Tom Hardy certainly brings the tough, taciturn, capable, and crazy as well, but he also brings an element that, to me, Gibson had a tendency to overlook: humanity. Max is haunted by his failures. He’s withdrawn because of people he’s let down, family he’s lost, friends he’s seen hurt or killed. If he hadn’t already established himself in things like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and above all, Bronson, I’d say this is a star-making turn for him. Max is also smart, especially in the way Hardy plays him, and I really appreciate that despite this being the fourth movie in this series, Max shows growth and a difference in understanding from where he is at the start to where he is at the end.

Despite the title and the performance, however, this movie does not belong to Max. It belongs to Furiosa. It belongs to the women.

Courtesy WB Studios

The first time we actually see all of the wives fleeing the clutches of Immortan Joe and what have to be incredibly gross and unconsented kisses, they are hosing each other down and using bolt cutters to remove the metal belts Joe slapped on them to keep them “his.” I remember clearly, as that tableau was presented, some dude behind me in the theater uttering the word “Nice.” I felt my stomach turn. Thankfully, as the movie continued, it was clear that his sort of attitude was the very one these women were not only escaping from, but actively fighting against.

You see, while the wives are very attractive, and clad in varying degrees of white clothing that might be meant to be alluring, at no point do any of them feel like pawns in a greater game, like things to be pursued or saved. These women are saving themselves. Yes, Furiosa is the means of their salvation (and I’m getting to her, trust me), but these characters conspired with one another intelligently, planned their escape methodically, and even take up arms to defend the freedom they’re struggling to attain. Max and Nux appearing are incidental things. Yes, they prove to be helpful in the cause, but they are not the agents of change in this story. The women are.

I cannot stress enough how important this is. This is a 21st-century Hollywood blockbuster. This is a tough-as-nails gorefest breakneck action flick. This sort of thing is designed to pull in audiences that are predominantly male. And yet, smuggled in under the explosions and gunfire and nitrous injections and fistfights is a very strong, very clear message: Men are not the only heroes. Men are not the only saviors. Women do not always need to be damsels in distress; they are more than capable of saving themselves, thank you very much. As much as each of Immortan Joe’s unconsenting wives personifies this, the focal point of this mentality is clearly Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa.

Courtesy WB Studios

Not only is Furiosa a woman who is clearly an equal to every man she encounters, if not superior in skill, tenacity, strength, and cunning, she thoroughly and consistently proves that she is the driving force (pun somewhat intended) of this story. She overwhelms Max in a fight. She drives as well as Max. She’s better shot than Max (and, in one scene, he demonstrates that he knows this. I literally squee’d). She helps the wives escape, gives them a destination, and dedicates herself to protecting them along every mile of the Fury Road. Oh, and did I mention she does this with a disability? We never find out how Furiosa lost her arm, but between the prosthetic (which is, in and of itself, pretty badass) and her general levels of skill and guts (also badass), that loss does not slow her down one bit. If this isn’t role model material, I don’t know what is.

From the moment this aspect of the film became clear, word began to circulate that so-called “men’s rights activists” (MRAs) were livid about it. “Mad Max belongs to men!” seemed to be the common rallying cry. “Action films belong to men! Hot chicks in movies get saved by men!” So on and so forth, to ever-descending degrees of disgustingness. The truth, of course, is that these arguments are ignorant and baseless. Good artists, be they filmmakers, authors, painters, or musicians, make art for everyone, even if everyone might not be into the art being made – not everybody can get into the music of Philip Glass or the films of Takashi Miike, for example. George Miller is a good artist, and he made Mad Max: Fury Road for everyone, at least everyone over the age of consent, given the blood spatters and deformities and drug use and violence and whatnot. Male, female, or anywhere in between, I’d like to think that everybody can admire Furiosa, root for the wives, and chuckle along as Max finds a way to help in the righteous cause he’s been searching for and finally found in the frightened but determined women huddled together in the back of the War Rig.

This is not an easy road to walk. The ideas of feminism and equal representation and triumph in the face of adversity, disability, and the partiarchy get opposed even in the relatively enlightened days of the 21st century. Indeed, Immortan Joe is a personification of the patriarchy, demanding the devotion of the young men under his control and expecting everyone, especially women, to bend entirely to his whims. Nux, one of the War Boys and the soul to whom Max is bound (literally, for the first hour), shows us not only how such control affects a human being, but that said being has the ability to overcome it. When we meet him, Nux is living only for himself and the approval of his paternal figure; by the end, Nux is living for people who, by the standards of the figure he so highly esteemed, aren’t considered people at all. There’s so much in this film that belies its simple, action-flick nature, and it isn’t easy to walk the road of making sure everyone knows it, and knows that the sort of “male gaze” bullshit that has dominated films and stories like this for centuries cannot and will not persevere.

I’m going to see Mad Max: Fury Road again, in cinemas if possible, to walk this road as much as I can. And I’d like to think that, if you are reading these words and understanding their full meaning, you’d be willing to walk it with me.

500 Words On People

A good soundtrack for this column:

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything. Or stuck to a one-post-per-weekday schedule. I give myself mental and emotional hell for that, on occasion, but you know what? It isn’t the end of the world. It’s okay. I’m okay.

My name is Josh Loomis, and I’m a person.

Provided you’re not one of Google’s non-self-aware bots, you’re a person, too.

It’s a simple fundamental fact, the establishment of personhood on behalf of the other. Yet it’s so easy to forget, to villainize, to de-personize. “Your opinion is horrible from my point of view, therefore YOU ARE HORRIBLE TOO” tends to be the norm in a lot of discussion and debates, especially online. A person may have horrid opinions, or behave in a horrible way for one reason or another, but does that make them inherently horrible?

When someone says something of a dubious nature, or that can be taken as offensive by another, it’s insidiously easy to jump to conclusions, choose sides, take up arms. I’ve been guilty of that. But in my age, I’ve taken more time to breathe, think, and consider both sides. Or try to, at least. I’m a person, after all. I err more often than not, by my very nature.

I’ve written about things like GamerGate in the past, and have found myself coming down on the side of those who have felt intimidated out of professions they love because of external pressures from such sources. However, that’s been unfair of me. There are people within GG who are legitimately trying to make gaming a better community. There are people within games journalism attempting to base their work on facts and research instead of corporate sponsorship. And there are less upstanding people on both sides as well. But it’s people, all the way down the line.

And I think we should try harder to be kind to people.

I’m certainly not saying censorship or thought policing is the answer, because freedom of speech and of choice are essential to a free-thinking society. But, to quote another AJJ song, “for God’s sake, you’ve gotta be kind.” Pointing out problems in a behavior, turn of phrase, or course of action can and should be divided from a judgement call on the person you’re addressing. Because you’re addressing a person just like you.

From discussions on the essence of GamerGate to debates on who and what Superman should be, try to remember to be kind. As of this writing, we only have the one planet on which to live, and we all have to share it. What is the point in bickering for superior intellectual positioning? Don’t we have enough problems? We should be working to be one people, not being rude and dismissive of one another. I’m not a violent person, but I will fight, and keep fighting until all are one.

I don’t think it’s too late. I believe we can turn it around. I have faith.

Don’t you?

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