A Beginner’s Beginning
How this whole stupid thing got started.
A few years back I had an epiphany. We’re talking apple on the head, water in the bath kind of thing. We’re talking slipping off the bog, seeing the flux capacitor.
It was the night Bush got re-elected, the 3rd November 2004. After sneaking the 2000 election from Saint Gore; after no WMDs and a mission very much unaccomplished; after the horrors of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; after Haliburton got rich picking through the ruins of Afghanistan and Iraq; after colossal tax cuts for the rich and colossal deficits for the rest of us; after Very Many Children got Left Behind; after ditching the Kyoto Protocol’s emissions targets and 40,000 other environmental outrages; after the whole bunch of all that they voted for him again, in bigger numbers and with a bigger share of the vote.
That night, as I stood gazing at the twin suns setting on the horizon, I felt me some human emotions. I felt angry, obviously, because he was a terrible human being out to do more terrible things for another four years. I felt helpless because I couldn’t vote against him, being as how he was the leader of a country I wasn’t in. And I felt hopeless, because a point lands harder with the rule of threes.
It was my fault, Bush getting re-elected. I’d been set upon by cynicism, thinking it made me smart. I didn’t think much of politicians so I didn’t follow politics. I didn’t like the electoral system so I didn’t vote. I didn’t think petitions did any good so I didn’t add my name to them. I thought the world was a wreck but change was impossible, that optimism was for the naïve, that trying was for the deluded. I thought my apathy meant something. I thought my inaction was protest. I thought I had the moral high ground, but I was just sneering from the sidelines. I was a dick.
But then Bush won again, and I had my full-on proper epiphany. From nowhere, from everywhere, from the depths of my soul, from the farthest reaches of the universe, perhaps from the mouth of God himself, came the thought that would change everything:
This was it. I was going to get stuck in. I was going to do stuff that changed stuff. I was going to dabble in the forces of optimism and hope, and, God as my witness, I would find a way to still be kind of a dick about it.
I’d still think most politicians sucked but I’d vote for the party out to do the least amount of harm. I’d give more to charity but check my money was being spent right. I’d stay sceptical about petitions but sign the buggers anyway, and put my cynicism to good use by tracking the difference they might maybe make. I’d do stuff, and join stuff, and make and help and change stuff.
I would change the world. Just me. A nobody. A zero.
And through it all I would, as I say, still be kind of a dick.
Photo credit: The Zero
More on Zeroism
Goals, Plans and Assorted Machiavellia
What we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it. And you’re included in the we.
We’ll be sceptical, not cynical. Knowledgeable, not knee-jerking. And thorough, not breezy or fun or anything even slightly appealing.
Onward to independence, somehow
The Equality Act (2010) demands people make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of those with disabilities and long-term illnesses. What I’m saying is, Long Covid’s still giving me a doing so you’re legally obliged to pretend this post-election hot take was published about three weeks ago.
Green Scotland/Little England
The Scottish Parliament elections are coming up on the 6th May, and even those of us still slobbing around with Long Covid can do something actually useful: We can vote to make a ton of progress on a whole bunch of things, and take steps towards ending Tory cruelty forever.
Victory! After four years of outrage and misery, five days chewing my nails down past the knuckles, and four nights sleeping so fitfully I thought maybe post-election panic was a cure for Long Covid lethargy, we got the motherfucker: Donald Trump got beat.
Red alert: Vote blue!
In the wide world of general do-goodery there is, at present, an opportunity to right an absolute shit-ton of wrongs and restore a small bit of order and decency to a smaller bit of the universe: Voting Donald Trump the fuck out of office.
When last we met, back in mid-lockdown May, I was banging on about Covid knackering my attempts to do a bit of the old ultra-activism. As I said back then, if ever there was a time for some proper solid do-gooding it’s in the middle of a deadly pandemic. What I didn’t anticipate about this particular deadly pandemic is that I would be personally attacked by the motherfucker.
I decided to spend ten days off my tits with fever, and then most of March struggling to breathe, and then half of April self-isolating while I downgraded my cough from persistent to lingering to socially awkward. It’s been frustrating. But I’ve been up and about for a few weeks now, and the old nagging feeling that I should be doing more is kicking back in.
I was a true believer back when the allegations first hit. I loved Michael Jackson with the bone-deep intensity only teenagers get to feel, when music feels important. When it feels tribal. When the heavy metal mob splits from the goths, when the indie kids look down on manufactured pop fans. I spent the next couple of years in second-hand record stores, car boot sales and memorabilia fairs building a collection so obsessive it could have scored me a diagnosis and a decent whack of DLA.
Vote. Campaign. Donate. Win.
Well… We lost the fuck out of that one, didn’t we? After Christine Blasey Ford’s heroic testimony, after Jeff Flake’s ego-driven dithering, after a week of two Republicans pretending to struggle with the ethics of the thing, we had Trump mocking Dr Ford while his disciples laughed uproariously.
And so to the latest reason for perma-outrage in this hellish, goatee-filled darkest-timeline in which that sorry bastard is occupying the White House and people like him are swagging around with their racism and misogyny proudly on show: the Kavanaugh hearings.