Discover more from swimming upstream
Pretend Conversations and Genocide
Do you ever have conversations in your head with people that you’ll never meet just in case you ever do meet them? I do. A lot. I’ve been told this isn’t how most people operate, but I suspect more folks do this than admit it.
Lately I’ve been having a lot of pretend conversation with politicians - the ones who are responsible for making decisions about things like international aid and military budgets. In my imaginary conversation, sometimes I’m angry and yelling. This helps me sort out my feelings when I’m totally overwhelmed with the world. Other times in these pretend conversations, I have the opportunity to sit down with someone and really have a debate so that we can hash out both sides of the argument and come to an understanding (a rare occasion IRL…).
I think my brain likes to do this so that I can have a better understanding of what motivates people to operate in ways that seem so inherently wrong to me. When it comes to our politicians, I would like to assume that the people we elect to make big decision are smarter than I am. I would like to assume that they have a clearer picture of how the world works, and know the more intimate details that influence the decisions that they make. I have my suspicions though.
These pretend debates - and admittedly because they’re only happening within the confines of my own singular mind - often come down to two basic arguments. These are the two basic arguments that I am confronted with often when I see, hear, or read perspectives in the wider community who believe in or support things like government, capitalism, 9-5 jobs, etc.
It has to operate this way because this is the way it is.
When you read it this way, the statement is an obtusely obvious circular fallacy but this argument comes in many forms depending on the topic being discussed. When presented in situations around government rule or colonialism, it sounds sometimes like “this is the natural evolution of things” as if fate is somehow in control rather than human beings or “it’s too big to undo” as if the change of direction of these massive systems feels impossible. As Ursula K LeGuin famously stated, “We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.” And in fact, change brought about by human beings is usually the only way things actually change.
I think that people in power often see their job as to uphold the systems that put them into positions of power. So when we ask ourselves how career politicians can be so obtuse as to fund an obvious genocide in a time of social media when the whole world can see the consequences of their corrupt decisions, it’s because they literally believe that this is their job; that colonialism is a necessary evil required to maintain order and peace (read: provide ongoing profit through the international sale of goods that perpetuate the colonial death machine); that this must continue because this is how the system operates.
Its too complicated and you don’t understand all the pieces.
The pieces can be anything: historical context, pawns on the board, players involved. This is the argument that I come across most often when actually in debate with people and it’s a killer because there’s no appropriate response. And honestly, it feels insulting when this line comes into play because the other person is basically calling me ignorant.
But this happens so often: it’s what our politicians are telling us now and while there is a deep history of conflict and many political players involved that I’m sure I don’t know the half of, the conflation of genocide to a complex political maneuver seems to be missing the point entirely. A ceasefire simply means that people should stop dying and it’s hard to argue against that statement without losing it’s intention. It’s not at all complex. It’s really very simple.
I recognize that these pretend conversations are somewhat childish but, on another level, they are important to me. They help me see the lies and the bullshit while also checking myself to make sure that I do indeed have the facts, that I’ve done my research, and am aware of all the pieces that I can be made aware of. These conversations also help paint a clearer picture for me so that I don’t get bogged down in the heat of the moment on those rare occasions where there is room for reasonable debate without name calling.
Beyond that, this approach of questioning helps me form my opinion more clearly. And when it comes to the current political positioning, it feels like more and more folks are coming to the same conclusions. There is a global movement of protestors taking to the streets and the deafening silence from the major western government contributors is speaking both loudly and clearly to those demanding a ceasefire.
What are the next steps? I’m not sure. Keep protesting, keep calling and writing letters and talking about it with your friends and family. I hope they stop dropping the bombs.
A post script: I don’t know if other writers struggle as much as I do with self-validation. I worry far too much about whether the musings of my brain are worthy of sharing with the world let alone charging dollars to read them. I leave that to the reader to decide I guess. The social media machine (can we call it an industrial complex yet?) doesn’t help in this matter. I’ve found that during these periods of self-doubt, Ifall back onto what feels authentic as the best approach. I know a lot of folks subscribed to this newsletter to get content about unschooling and it’s been a hot minute since I wrote about unschooling. I will probably write about unschooling again but it’s hard to write or think about anything else right now.
If you would like to, I’d appreciate your paid subscription because a) it helps me validate that I should keep sharing the thoughts that I have and because b) it helps me justify to myself the time I spend doing it. I’ll be releasing video readings of each post and occassional additional stuff when I’m feeling inspired to do so. Thanks for your consideration. Also, if you’d like to show that validation without a financial contribution, please let me know and I can gift a subscription for you.
Finally, if you’d consider sharing my posts with people who you think would enjoy that, that helps me know that I should keep going. These stupid metrics are not the only way, but they are helpful from time to time :) /endrant