Spread Your Anger Like Soft Butter Over Warm Bread

2020 has been undoubtedly and completely fucked. Don’t get me wrong, things before 2020 were fucked, too, but it just seems so much more prominent this year. Everything is bad all the time and nothing ever seems to get better. There are so many issues to be angry about. There are so many topics that deserve your attention. And yet, it’s exhausting to care about so many things, especially when it feels like you can do nothing about what’s happening.

I understand that people just naturally care about a certain handful of issues, or one specific issue, more than all the rest. Like, maybe you care a lot about the BLM movement, but not so much about the rain-forest being destroyed. Maybe you care a lot about homelessness, but not so much about mask/face-covering laws and whatnot. It’s okay to put the focus of your attention towards the things you care about, I totally get that.

For someone that lives in Flint, maybe the issue they care about the most is getting clean water to their community. If you live in California, maybe your focus is on wildfires. It is totally valid to be more concerned about your community than one across the country — even if, ideally, you should care about both. It doesn’t have to be an equal amount of focus you put towards the issues, but you should at least care a smidge about the other.

Let’s say there are multiple buildings on fire at the same time. It’s possible that one fire is much larger than the others and should be focused on a little more, or maybe the contents inside the building are somewhat more important that the others’, but the other fires should not be ignored entirely. This is basically a metaphor to the fact the world is constantly on fire (sometimes literally), and there’s a lot to focus on.

So now that it’s been established it is okay to care a little more about certain topics than others, it’s important to address something I’ve been seeing a lot lately, which is people posting things like “this topic is more important than all the other issues in the world right now” or “this is the only topic that matters to me and if you don’t agree then you’re wrong.” This is mostly in regards to BLM vs human trafficking vs Corona. All major issues. All deserving of attention. And like I said, it’s okay to care about one more than the other two, or care about two of them over the remaining one. But I don’t understand why people are claiming that the one thing they care about is the only issue that should be cared about, or that anyone who disagrees is fundamentally wrong.

Why would you tell people the issue they care about doesn’t matter? Why would you invalidate someone’s concerns about the world you both live in? Just because they pick a different fight than you, doesn’t mean their fight isn’t important. We need people to fight all kinds of fights, to protest all sorts of different issues, to donate to a variety of charities. There are so many issues in the world, and I understand the feeling that your chosen fight feels like the most important battle. But not everyone can fight it. There are other issues that need to be focused on simultaneously, apart from yours.

To claim your issue is the only one that matters is selfish, and ignorant. You are choosing to be blind to the strife and suffering of others. You are pretending their problems don’t exist. When you say human trafficking is the only current issue that matters, you are essentially diminishing the entire black community, and everything they fight for. When you say that the post office dilemma is the most important thing happening right now, you’re completely forgetting about all the people in cages at the border. And so on.

(On the other hand, none of these issues really matter in the long run if global warming keeps getting worse and we all burn alive. See? There’s A LOT to be angry about!)

It’s exhausting to be continuously angry at the world. There’s so much wrong and everything feels hopeless constantly. It’s tiring. I know it is. Which is why it’s important to care about yourself, and your well-being. Absorbing so much of the shit show that is the world can be difficult, and take a toll on your mental health. It’s important to focus on yourself sometimes, rather than the giant, colossal, unyielding issues the world has to offer. So please, amidst all this protesting, donating, raising awareness, and other forms of activism, make sure to take care of yourself in the process.

-AMS

50 Comments on “Spread Your Anger Like Soft Butter Over Warm Bread”

  1. “To claim your issue is the only one that matters is selfish, and ignorant.”

    Unfortunately, there are a few very selfish and very ignorant people out there. And because the media is all fucked up, they tend to get the most ink. Or they tend to be the loudest assholes at the party, just because . . .

    You make great points, when it gets too much, rant a little then take three deep breaths. It doesn’t change anything, but you feel less like ranting . . .

  2. You give several current examples, but you fail to mention what is probably the most long-standing and prominent example of the genre: the abortion controversy. That single issue looms so much more important than any other, in so many people’s minds, that it has dominated political conversation for two whole generations — not least by being the single most influential factor in the selection of over half of the Supreme Court. I think it supports your “selfish and ignorant” argument perfectly, although it undermines your implicit assertion that it’s a new phenomenon.

    Please note, I am very carefully not stating an opinion on the abortion controversy itself. I will say, however, that the relative stability of the status quo for nearly 50 years suggests that the attention paid to it, by both sides of the debate, is largely wasted.

  3. I am grateful when someone fights a fight that needs to be fought, but that I don’t have the time/energy/motivation to engage. If we all do what we can for the things that matter to us, progress will be made.

  4. Great post.

    It is 100% possible to hold many (possibly even conflicting) thoughts at the same time and to care about a multitude of things but only have the energy to focus on a few. In fact, caring about too many can be paralyzing to the effect that you end up not being able to do anything for any of them.

    I think that it is hard for some people to realize that just because their #1 concern isn’t my #1 concern doesn’t mean I don’t think that their concerns are valid or that I don’t agree that their concern is important. It’s just not MY #1. I’m glad they have a #1 – we all need to prioritize or risk burning out.

    Fun story: While studying pre-veterinary medicine, I decided to adopt a vegan diet. My mother-in-law could not understand why I cared about animals so much… and not children. It’s not that I didn’t care about children (I wasn’t going to eat them either), it’s just that I was focused on animals – that’s where I chose to spend my energy (and time and money). I never finished pre-vet, but I also still don’t eat animals (or children for that matter), and now my volunteer work is spent in a medical-adjacent activity helping people instead of animals… focus changes.

  5. I think it’s not necessarily always the case that someone is being selfish or insensitive when they insist their cause is the most important one. In many cases, that response is a learned response because of past traumas, such as but not limited to:

    — They’ve had people they respected/cared about tell them their cause isn’t important.
    — They’ve had people they respected/cared about actively take away resources.
    — They’ve seen other causes get more press (especially with the way our news cycles work) and watch the groundswell of support they need to actually be effective in the long term get sucked away (cf the BLM protests that are still going on in Portland, Seattle, and other cities.)
    — They’ve witnessed other important causes be handled in such a way that it causes direct damage to their cause (forex coronavirus mask mandates being used to blame and discredit BLM protests.)

    In those cases, I personally have found positive results in addressing that trauma and working on my communication and dialogue to ensure that they understand that I am trying to make sure my focus on Cause A can work with and support their focus on Cause B — that we can be complimentary, not competitive. When you’re fighting a large enough complex of wildfires, you have to work on multiple fronts at once.

  6. @Steve: I actually thought your response was satirical at first, and I’m still only about 85% sure it isn’t. Scolding Athena for not centering your issue of choice is something that, somehow, doesn’t really address her post objecting to people scolding each other for not centering their issues of choice. It also reads as American-centric in a way that Athena’s post doesn’t. Abortion is much less controversial in most of the rest of the developed world than it is in the United States; even Ireland has come to a consensus in recent years.

  7. That’s exactly right. Black lives, for instance, certainly don’t matter, nor any other lives either, if all the lives are no more because we cooked our planet. I think that people who get a bee in their bonnet about one issue to the exclusion of all else are failing to realize that we can do more than one thing at a time. Addressing climate change does not preclude also reforming police.

    I also think people tend to think that climate change is something we can deal with in due course because it doesn’t look too bad right now. It isn’t. A catastrophic 2C+ temperature change is now baked in the cake. There is no longer a way to avoid it. The atmosphere is a big boat. It takes a long time to turn it.

  8. I genuinely thought this was your dad’s post until I got to the byline. Great job. Take this how you will. I meant it as a compliment.

  9. Spider Robinson pointed out that it’s hard to think of anything else when there’s a boil on your *ss. What he meant (I think) is that short term nonfatal problems (his example was how badly Americans are rooked by the auto industry and used car lots) can get in the way of thinking about long term extinction level events (global warming, used to be nuclear war).

  10. @ Emma:

    “Abortion is much less controversial in most of the rest of the developed world than it is in the United States”

    Or perhaps:

    “Abortion is much less controversial in the developed world than it is in the United States”.

  11. I’ve seen this in a church setting, called a “Gospel Hobby” where the “Judge not” crowd pick what to judge others on. That’s my $.02. “Judge not” the sage is alleged to have said. So my passion isn’t your passion. Who made ‘you’ the judge? How about if we agree we want to do something to make the world a better place? Can we start with an agreement? And agree none of us is a perfect judge? I’m personally OK with just about anyone doing what they honestly believe is the next right reasonably coercion free thing to do.

  12. I agree Athena, but would add that there are different ways we can get involved in different issues. Not just the amount of time, but the intensity – signing a petition is a lot less time and effort consuming than ringing up the appropriate person to lobby them which itself is less effort than going on a demonstration which is less effort than organising a large petition. We can get lightly involved in several areas, but only intensely involved in one.

    I also agree with Devin L Granger that a lot of issues intersect, to get most return on your investment of time, effort and money it is useful to have a reasonable awareness of the issues that intersect with your chosen area It is really helpful to have good relations with those campaigning one lane over as it were, as there will be areas where you can signal boost each other, as well as ways you can harm each others work without realising if you don’t keep a weather eye on what is going on.

  13. @Emma, my comments were not intended to scold Athena; only to add to her already excellent post. Apologies to her if I wasn’t clear on that.

  14. The first commenter mentioned abortion. I like how in Canada, even when the Conservative party had the majority of seats, the PM announced he would “not open that can of worms,” thus ensuring energy for other issues, as both a leader and a people must have priorities.

    Another priority: Last year, when the big Heathrow airport was going to put in a third runway the courts squashed the idea because of the government’s stated priority of attending to global warming. (The greens cheered)

    Over two millennia ago the stoics knew to control their ego. In our own century the F.B.I. and C.I.A. had clashing egos, information hoarding, that allowed the conspirators of 9/11 to slip through the cracks. As I recall, the Israeli services were aghast at how the U.S. could be like that.

    I suppose I could steeple my fingers, bow and say in a humble voice, “No individual, or organization of individuals, has a monopoly on wisdom.”

  15. >>> “It’s exhausting to be continuously angry at the world.”
    Yup.
    Worse, it changes nothing.
    Few of us can handle juggling a dozen crisis responses all at the same time. There are not dozens but hundreds. Add in personal crisis, it gets to the point of just yielding to death quietly then settling back and watching the world burn because you are overwhelmed.
    The virus will — in an odd way — be our opportunity for saving ourselves. Nobody in the GOP (or other political parties) is above it, and once enough of their own families and friends begin being stuffed into mass graves they will have little choice but to do the right thing. That cooperation could well become habitual.
    Problem is, for the USA, when? 200K? 400K? 600K? or are we going to heap up a million of our own citizens before there is cooperation? Since death rate is under 99%, humanity will survive, so too civilization. Problem is how much misery can any society endure? We got out of the habit of burying 5 of 10 children prior to fourth birthdays. We watched the cost of food fall as incomes rose, until for the first time in recorded history obesity has become a health crisis. We fought massive wars but other than soldiers, few were rarely damaged. We got comfortable, lost that thick skin for enduring repeated shocks.
    It might not be the end of a golden age but for sure we got to stir ourselves. Big pluses: (a) we got idle hands, millions of ’em (b) fast communications and easy organizing via internet (c) cheap computers inside millions of phones in pockets (d) enraged citizens at antics of ICE and DHS and PDs (e) enraged nerds. So, the revolution will not only be televised, it will be computed(TM pending).
    (Huh. My next SF novel just wrote itself: “Reborn: Tales From America’s Next Golden Age”. Yo! JJ Abrams! Teevee rights start at a megabuck!)

  16. Great post, and I 100% agree. I actually was a little surprised to see AMS at the end instead of JS because this read to me like John’s writing. That is absolutely a compliment, and I hope not a back-handed one, as I also really enjoy the posts that are “more” (to me) in Athena’s voice as well.

  17. Yeah, let’s not be continuously angry.

    As for “the good fight,” remember how folks said that Barak Obama’s mentor was Saul Alinsky? (The Canadian National Film Board did a series of films about him)

    Well, just before he died in 1972, in his book Rules For Radicals, Alinsky said activists should keep their gift of laughter and keep their sense of humour. He worried that activists of the 1960’s were losing their gift.

    Maybe his humour was why he resisted believing in any dogma, including not believing in communism, not even during the Great Depression when Good and Evil stood clearly apart.

    My own two bits is that dogma comes from the ego wanting a sense of control. (Hence angry cruelty to others) Domo arigato.

  18. Nice, in a hopeful way….

    I heard this in Athena’s voice, pretty much right off. That said, as I was reading, I was comparing and contrasting her voice, content, and style to others of her cohort who I’m familiar with reading. I must offer my most enthusiastic compliments! The folks I know personally are smart, also.

    Athena, you’re not to be mistaken for your dad, but in whatever way you’ve managed to develop your skill in communicating, you manage to have a clear and persuasive voice all your own. Looking forward to reading more, and, yes, I’ll continue to fully punctuate my texts….

  19. I really agree with having a sense of humour. If you cannot laugh at yourself, you are probably being a real pain to others at times – even your allies. Many of the issues from when I was a teenager have improved, although most have not improved enough. Also some of the issues of that time fell by the wayside, often because they were poorly understood.

    Despite the ugliness, I genuinely prefer living today over the time when I was say 20 years old. Things are better – overall. If you are in your sixties and seventies and you cannot see that, you have not been paying attention. So my advice to young people would be to laugh, have fun, support some causes, and be nice to each other – it will help move things along.

    The one thing I would really like back from that time though, would be to have a healthy 20 year old body again, this older version of me creaks and often hurts. *mutter*

    And I do like Athena’s generation. Overall, nice bunch. Hang in there!

  20. Oh, well said Athena! I’m so glad that you have this platform to share your thoughts with us. :)

    @Pappenheimer: I remember that story well (although I had to look up the title – The Magnificent Conspiracy). Spider is a wise man.

  21. A valid point. I enjoy reading your perspective on things, Athena, because you’re in a different age group than I am (I’m older than your dad). It’s interesting to get other perspectives and valuable to me.

    I want to focus on one minor thing that you said that can be important. You mentioned it being exhausting being angry at the world all the time. I agree, yet I also think this is burning vital energy that you can put into something more positive and more productive. Find joy in the world. It is there. Make joy in the world and look for opportunities to be kind. Keep feeding your individuality. It matters. We are all like flowers. Each of us is unique and that uniqueness matters. And every now and again, find a couple of evil people and turn them against each other and then walk away, letting the inevitable take it’s course. Justice. Just make sure you don’t enjoy it too much. ;)

    On an unimportant note, but I find it interesting, nonetheless, I have a really interesting girl in my 5th grade, also named Athena. My first student with that name. Our first day of school was today and I can already tell she is complex, which brings me a great deal of joy as a teacher.

  22. I really liked this post, & think it would be useful to have my students read it. I teach a Human Diversity course at a local university. May I use this blog entry in my class? I use some of your father’s entries. He has okayed it, but asked me to link to the entry on Whatever, which I am happy to do.

  23. Elizabeth A Mancz:

    I checked with Athena, and:

    a) that’s fine, go ahead;

    b) as a general rule, here pieces here follow the same rule for educator use in the classroom as mine.

  24. Your writing skills have grown so much over the past two years, Athena. I heartily agree with the points in your essay, but along with that, your writing style is just lovely to read, and I find myself rereading your post simply for the enjoyment of your wordcraft.

    Your writing bears some of the hallmarks of your father’s writing, but you very much have your own voice, which delights me. I knew by the end of the first paragraph that this was an AMS post rather than a JS post, because your voice has, oh, I don’t quite know how to describe it, a different timbre, different inflections than his does. Yes, they’re all words on the screen, but I hear the cadences of your voice in my mind’s ear differently from the way I hear your father’s.

    Sorry, probably not really on-topic, feel free to mallet.

  25. AMS, your father should be proud. And you should too. I could kind of tell it was you right from the start (even without the exclamation marks! Sorry). Develop your own voice. And keep on keeping on.

  26. This resonated with me. It seems like a partner to the constant miasma of outrage that seems to cover our country now. People seen to view many things as zero sum.

    @Sean Crawford There’s precious little humor these days, and it’s sorely missed.

  27. Wow Athena, I really love this post. I’ve been thinking along the same lines, and have been sort of composing an essay in my head for months now. But now you’ve put it into words much better than I could. It also helps to know that I’m not the only one who thinks of these things. Thanks!

  28. @Ron
    I chuckled at your mention of a “Gospel Hobby.” In my own faith I’ve heard that term used for decades, and in pretty much the same way. I hadn’t thought of that concept in the terms of this post, but it is quite apt.
    I find I have precious little time and energy to get caught up in all the things I’m “supposed” to care about. I’m sorry I can’t match your intensity about your issue, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care.
    I’ve had to take a step back from caring about certain issues like climate change as much as other issues. It was too stressful, too daunting of an issue, and I couldn’t see how I could make a difference.
    I now focus on things that I can make a noticeable difference in. My mental health is better because of it.

  29. Case and point: critiquing your post for its “failure” to include the abortion debate in your enumeration of controversial issues.

    I also agree with your choice to ground your discussion of this phenomenon in 2020, a time fraught with unprecedented threats to life, liberty, and the republic as a whole.

    The advent of social media plays a critical role in what you’re problematizing, putting your implication about the emergent nature of this problem right on target.

    Just as we don’t get to decide how much time, attention and emotion others get to expend on an issue, we shouldn’t get to take swipes at people for what may or may not be an oversight.

    You also bring to mind a recent…discussion we had in the Kamala Harris thread.

    The democratic party has an infighting problem.

    The progressive and “pragmatic” wings are at each other’s throats while many black voters feel shut out by them both (this is not to say that African Americans are their own wing or that they aren’t at the front lines of this fight), something that could lead to disaster in November.

    From what I’ve seen, and I could be wrong, progressives resent the party’s tacking to the right while centrists think progressives are quixotic, even unreasonable in their goals.

    Meanwhile, many African Americans live in fear of a “burn it all down to teach the party a lesson” faction who’ve decided that making their point is worth dooming less advantaged segments of society to an increasingly authoritarian administration.

    This kind of tantrum throwing is exactly what you’re addressing, the kind that aims to endanger lives in the name of being given a larger slice of a political cake. Sigh.

  30. All true, except “human trafficking” is a dogwhistle. Human trafficking is real.* But people who “care about human trafficking” on Facebook care about a complete fantasy.** They are NEVER concerned about the thousands of migrant children that ICE “misplaced,” for instance.

    *Most human trafficking is not sex slavery of children though, but adult farmworkers and domestic workers.
    ** An antisemitic fantasy, if you dig further into the story. A direct update of the Blood Libel.

  31. Athena, this is my favorite thing you have ever written. (And I’m sure there are many more good things to come).

  32. I read Steve’s comment as amplifying an aspect of Athena’s post. The laser focus on the one issue of abortion/antiabortion, and making it the litmus test for any number of candidates while ignoring other aspects of their histories and proposals has skewed politics in the United States in a really damaging way.

  33. Thanks Athena, great post! Indeed there are sufficient reason to be angry, without adding being angry because the neighbour is angry at different things. And anyway trying to keep on top of all the reasons to be angry is counterproductive: when you try to tackle too many things, you often end up doing none of them right, which is adding to the anger and frustration. As we say in French: Qui trop embrasse, mal étreint.

    ———

    Maybe the reason some of us thought this post came John is that he commented already quite regularly on how frustrating, anger-inducing, and just never-ending, 2020 is, so we expected further elaboration on that topic from him.

    To avoid this type of confusion, would it make any sense to put the byline on top of the entry, rather than at the bottom?

  34. This also holds true when self-directed. Anyone who’s gotten involved in one cause soon starts getting appeals from a million other causes of a similar (and sometimes not-so-similar) bent. It’s okay to focus! Don’t feel bad for downplaying or even ignoring those others! Nobody has the right to tell you you SHOULD devote time/brainspace/money to issue X, because it’s sooooo much more important than your silly little pet issue Y.

  35. My WordPress email notifications tell me which Scalzi has authored a post, which removes all the guesswork. ^_^

    As adults, we are (at least in theory) supposed to set our own priorities, develop our own values, and generally live life & pursue happiness as we see fit. There are inevitable constraints: “How do I put a roof over my head & bread on the table?” This can cramp one’s style something awful. As some have put it, “Work is the curse of the drinking class.” (I don’t drink, but I have a gi-normous reading habit, which can drain the exchequer quite handily.)

    One usually ends up, in spite of it all, with small amounts of disposable income & free time. What to do with it? There are many who, like cattle dogs, want the herd nicely bunched up and headed in the same direction. Everything they say begins with, “You should.” And in the process, if they separate a lotta folks from the contents of their wallets, why then, mission accomplished!

    This is just dandy when one is totally on board with the proposed course of action. My criteria are: Is it based in reality & truth? Is it effective? And who benefits?

    Yes, the world is a complete shitshow at the moment, and anyone with a barrow to push is out there in the marketplace yelling for attention. It’s enough to give a person a screaming headache. Hell’s bells, the daily dose of calamity in the Trashy Tabloid and TV news is enough to give me indignation fatigue; I feel no need for a Twitter account.

    Therefore yes, 100% correct, we have to take care of ourselves in the process. As the flight attendants used to tell us, back in the good old days, first put on your own oxygen mask, and then assist others with theirs.

  36. I have to constantly tell myself I can only do what I can do. And if I’m sunk in despair over ALL THE THINGS then I can’t even do that. I agree that dissing other people’s concerns is non-productive. ALL THE ISSUES are important. I keep my sanity by choosing to focus mostly on the things I can do, the areas where I can help, and doing those things. See a need, fill a need. One small thing at a time.

    With many small candles we can light the world.

  37. @Steve With the exception of a very small minority of pro-lifers who deeply believe that all life is sacred, the people fighting about abortion aren’t fighting about abortion. They’re fighting a proxy war about gender equality, “traditional family,” etc. So it’s not a niche issue, it’s a representative of a very big cultural shift.

  38. I’m also thinking about the demands that fans/readers sometimes place on people who regularly comment on tragedies, political events or social issues.

    I can’t tell you how many bloggers (this includes your dad) I’ve seen pressured to comment on a certain contretemps, imbroglio, current event or disaster.

    This idea that people are owed someone’s take on…well… anything, the idea that readers/fans are entitled to a celebrity’s, author’s or blogger’s expression of anger about a widely discussed event smacks of the very entitlement you address in the piece.

    More importantly, silence on an issue doesn’t imply apathy. Nor, mind you, is it anyone’s business how or why someone feels the way they do about anything.

    Bloggers who opt out of commenting on or moderating huge and contentious discussions of a given subject are not, in fact, shirking their social responsibility.

    Silence does not always mean tacit acceptance or agreement.

    It certainly doesn’t put someone in the “moral cowardice” box, as some tantrum throwing fans/readers like to imply.

    Your dad (and I hate to keep referring to your dad on your autonomous post) gets demands from entitled readers who like to ascribe all kinds of dastardly motives to him for “neglecting” to offer his opinion on *their* pet bugaboo.

    I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but you’re not a villain or bad citizen if you decide not to comment on something. You don’t owe that to anyone; no one does.

    There are exceptions, of course, but few of them apply in this context, I think.

  39. @Pappenheimer: I thought what Spider meant is that when you’ve got your own personal annoying painful situation (especially on your butt! but toothache counts, also having your hair on fire…) you tend to ignore all the other outside issues. Pain will do that, it’s true.

  40. This is one of the things that has always flummoxed me. Not just in the issues that are important in the Whole Wide World sense, but even in simpler things at work or around the house or among friends.

    I get the passion to fix the One Big Thing that we’re passionate about. But I’ve also always thought that if everyone were encouraged to pick one thing that they’re passionate about, and work to fix that (without stepping on the efforts other people are making on their thing), then we create a world full of people trying to fix things, rather than a world full of people who throw up their hands and do nothing because everything is too hard to fix or because they feel too unimportant to fix The Big Stuff.

    We need, indeed, to make sure we’re all working together on (or at least, all agreeing together not to impede progress toward) The Big Stuff. But we also need to encourage the people who are genuinely passionate about The Little Things to dive in and pursue those was well.

    On the one hand, it means that the people who care the most about something are the ones putting the effort into getting it right, which means that the chances of getting it right go up (allowing for needing to rein in the nutjobs who think that their manifestly One Right Way is the only way when it’s not even close).

    Also, people who are used to thinking in terms of fixing things may be more supportive of other people working on other things, even if that’s not where their own efforts are going. People who successfully fix one thing – even if it’s “just” organizing their closet, may be inspired to get out there and fix other things.

    And possibly more important in a practical sense, the creative solutions people come up with about one challenge are often transferrable to other challenges, and can build groundwork for other people to use about their own – the classic “Sure, maybe putting a couple people on the moon didn’t in and of itself mean all that much, but look at all the technology that came out of it that we use in our lives every day that might not have been developed without the lunar programs” or, possibly less inherently positive, all the peacetime applications of things that were originally developed for war.

    I’ve occasionally wondered if, had I been standing at Kitty Hawk that day, I might have been one of the people who said, “Okay, Orville, that’s cool and all, but what the hell GOOD is it?” I’m old enough to have been in conversations with people who thought personal computers were just a fad, because they were perfectly happy with their recipes on 3 x 5 cards and couldn’t imagine what computers could become.

    I agree that if we don’t fix global warming and we all die out, none of the other problems are going to matter much. But if ALL we fix is global warming, and nobody can read, we develop a worldwide authoritarian system of all the wealth in just a few hands, people don’t have access to healthcare, or all the survivors live in a grey concrete landscape with no art or music, etc, then what will we have saved the world for?

    Light a candle rather than curse the darkness, but I agree, let’s not run around blowing out other people’s candles because we don’t think they’re lighting the right ones.

  41. I’m a little late to this particular party- I tend to consume Whatever about or twice a month in bursts.
    But it is awesome you are contributing, Athena! I’m looking forward to more.
    John, I think you and your wife have done a bang up job raising such a thoughtful and articulate child to adulthood. Athena seems like a wonderful person. Athena, you’ve done a bang up job raising yourself, because while you parents are great, who you are is, in the end, all up to you.