Of course, I want to convince every American citizen to register and vote in this next election.
Voting, of course, is merely the end of a process that our culture has demonized from start to finish. I hope this cycle will lead to a more open attitude towards civic participation. Not just taking an active role, but being understanding and supportive of those who choose to do so.
I can go on a long diatribe about demanding perfection from humans, but I want to call out something else, for now.
That being isolation.
On the forum, isolation is something we normally address if one individual tries to do it to another. Trying to break up genuine friendships is a pretty vile thing for any person to do, and we respond accordingly.
There are many paths to isolation, however. It can be self imposed, or inflicted by fate. 'Predators' often seek out people who are halfway there already.
Without a plurality of viewpoints to check ours against, isolation can leave us vulnerable to singular, toxic voices.
These can be an emotionally abusive partner, a cult indoctrination, an electronic voice speaking unanswered for hours each day - whether through radio, television, a forum, or other medium. For whatever authoritarian ideology they wish to push.
It can even be one's own constant rumination, leading to a spiral of more and more convoluted thoughts.
These voices - whether our own or dictated to us - can lead to conclusions about the world that do not reflect reality. Can be entirely disconnected from it.
I cannot hope to convince many people beset by this. I can ask you to reach out, to push against your comfort zones. To say 'yes' to new experiences, new thoughts, new arguments, and to the perspectives that come from them.
Many of you reading this are watching people you care for fall prey to this.
I cannot stress enough just how important contact and engagement can be. Attempts to understand, listening, opening doors. Giving perspectives.
By no means should you tolerate abuse. Not everyone can be reached, no person has the right approach to every situation, no one can bear the weight of the world alone.
If, through interaction, you can discourage someone devaluing life - whether their own or that of others - you also set back the sorts of behaviors this can engender.
I know it can be difficult. I have been fighting my own thoughts for decades.
But for the words of several people, the touch of a few, spoken at the right moments, given at the right time, throughout my life, this message would be very different, if it was here at all.
A little bit of contact - and its associated perspective - can reshape someone's world.Have strength.
Thank you for reading.