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
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