It wasn’t that long ago that we, as a civilization, looked towards the stars; we dreamed of the betterment of humanity that would someday live in a world free of hate, hunger, greed or disease.
Folded away from view now lie the stories of our possibly-great future selves. What we could have been.
Today, in this rotten year of our Lord, 2020, the world is not at all what we imagined; it’s as if we took all the dystopian stuff out of all the futuristic dystopian stories like Blade Runner and Akira, like war, pollution, disease and social disorder and tossed out anything good, like flying cars or any advanced technology that made the world a tad bit more fascinating.
Instead, we have hordes of conspiracy theorists and cultists, wannabe anarchists and fake socialists shrieking on the internet and on street corners day and night that their freedoms are being stripped away by some evil government or entity, or that COVID-19 is some kind of planet-wide plot to destroy humanity. I must’ve missed the memo when everyone- and I mean, everyone became a specialist at everything in all of history. Because regardless of where you go, you will run into these “specialists” at nearly every corner. Not long ago, they were shunned by civil society as the raving, incoherent, baseless fanatics that they are, but now they are listened to – even defended by some. At one point or another, there was a barrier; a certain threshold where cultists remained trapped in their own twisted narratives, unable to escape into the medium of society.
Now they are everywhere among us; anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, Holocaust-deniers, satanic conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, and all other waves of gullible tin-foil-hat-wearing assholes that fill the airwaves on a regular basis these days. Personally, I believe they were always here, it’s just that no one and nothing gave their words or beliefs any lift before. We used to laugh at them, laugh at how absurd and ridiculous, baseless and radical their every theory was. I think (fortunately) the average person still does, and will catch onto just how stupid another human can be, yet I cannot help but feel that the general public has let its guard down. I notice more and more people, some within my own social circles, fail to question source-less, base-less and outright absurd information.
It’s just not funny anymore. Just last week, anti-mask groups boarded a BC Ferry from Victoria en route to Vancouver to protest just how evil masks are and how deranged our government is for saying we’re in a pandemic; that it’s “just the common cold.” It wasn’t enough that these individuals were gathering in groups of hundreds to protest, raising the risk of infecting themselves and others, but they also had the gull and courage to harass other passengers on the ferry who didn’t agree with their fanatical, ignorant bullshit. The unrest caused nearly an hour delay for the ferry and police expelled them off the ferry upon arrival. Their only reprimand was a warning and ban from all ferries for the rest of the day. Rest of the day. Why not give them a week? A month? A year? A lifetime? Chances are, it will happen again, and again – until someone really gets hurt or even killed.
My biggest takeaway from this incident is, since when did freedom of speech give anyone a right to impose their freedom of speech onto others?
Now, before I point my finger at the public for allowing such discourse to trickle to the forefront of civil society, there is an inherent truth here that may be a bit too overwhelming to accept. Reality right now is, our world is very broken. It has been ravaged and terrorized by an ongoing pandemic; jobs are far and few between; quality of life is fading from the middle-class, while the poorer class is repeatedly shoved under a seemingly-infinite carpet, all the while most of the wealthy have wide access to all that life has to offer with little care or consequence. Racial and political division has ripped families, communities and nations apart, and where the gaps are left behind, corruption pours in like wet, sloppy cement. I don’t think I am too far out of line to say that most people are unhappy; they’re tired of being hunted around a corner by a virus that just won’t go away, they’re tired of being treated differently, of being paid less, of not being listened to.
THIS, right here, is why Trumpism, like Trump and all the collective cultists that religiously follow his every word, have sunken a firm grip into our culture; because everyone is so sick and tired of everything that they are willing to believe that there is an evil government out there that tries to repeatedly ruin their lives and that the pandemic is a global conspiracy to send us all to supposed covid-19 camps. Because that’s just how the human brain works; when hope in the established order is lost, temptation to believe just about anything else becomes nearly insatiable.
Now, even the pessimist in me comes to this somewhat-sobering conclusion: our world may be broken, but it’s not lost. At least, not yet. I have seen people who are still capable of good. There is still a lot of good left. People are still, for the most part, morally-sound with good intentions. But if anything is going to stop the tsunami of paranoia and ignorance from crushing us all, it’s the collective push to use our judgement and not give in to our fears.
After all, when future humans (or possible gray jelly-like aliens) find those stories and movies about the cool ideas we had for our civilization buried under the rubble, they too, will wonder, where such spirit went so horribly wrong.