Protest for tomorrow, today

Mar 29, 2018

Change is deeply unsettling, no matter how you look at it. We all go through it at some time or another. Regardless of who you are, it is hard to accept. I am here to tell you that each of us is capable of momentous achievement by being even the simplest proponent of change. Protest is an ultimately effective form of this, shown time and time again.

Every era of humanity brings with it great times of turmoil and political unrest. Opposing sides clash, untimely feuds ensue, feeling are hurt, lives are lost but, most importantly, we progress from where we were last. When human lives band together to change something they feel needs adjusting, it is hard not to consider their cause. As of recent, this is happening again, just as it always has and will continue to do so.

Lives are meeting unfortunate ends at the hands of those holding the trigger, leading to smoking barrels and unloaded ammunition. While the culprits of these atrocities are known to the public, citizens of America cannot come to a consensus to what specifically is to blame.

Protests such as the nationwide walkout, March 14, and the more recent March For Our Lives, March 24, gave groups with an opinion a voice. Luckily, these were carried through with a sense of poise and were, for the most part, peacefully executed. The sad truth is not every movement for change transpires with as much grace as we might hope them to.

There are multiple sides to every issue, but sadly most Americans believe there only to be two. This creates greater tension on both sides to be right, as there is rarely middle ground. For example, the liberal left wants to constrict gun ownership to a certain degree while the conservative right wishes their gun rights to stay to the same- open. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about which side you are on because the majority of shared opinion is congruent with only two opinions, the rest is usually not heard. This is not to say that it can’t, but it is wise to understand what we have to work with.

I have always thought that it is better to try, and then fail, than to never have tried at all. This is an abstract that we can assuredly apply to protesting. When you have an opinion about an obvious, or not so obvious, wrong you see in society you should make that grievance heard. We need to reevaluate how we are communicating with each other. If you do not speak up, who on this earth will, if not yourself? I am sure you have heard this more than enough times, but there is a reason behind that too.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that everything can be solved by protesting, but I would be lying to you. It won’t fix everything, but it’s definitely a start. You are the change, not the protesting. No matter which side you align with, fight for what you believe in. If you disagree with the other side, make your voice heard. Living inside of an echo chamber is hell.

People need to look up to the stars

Humankind’s journey through existence is one fraught with so many obstacles that seem only to pile up, almost ceaselessly, until there seems nowhere really left to turn. However, one frontier, as fantastic and unfathomable as it may be, waits -for us- to be discovered.

On July 20, 1969, almost 7 years after humanity  made it to space, Neil Armstrong stomped the first footprints to have ever grace the moon. Maybe his footsteps were not as expansive as the 2,500 km long crater found on the far side of the moon, but they acted as a symbol for the capacity of human achievement.

Humans, and the pre-human equivalents, have inhabited the earth for as long as any of us can remember and we have learned to adapt and grow with our surroundings. With our ingenuity and ever-growing minds, we have achieved crafting mountains out of molehills. There is no doubt in my mind that we have conquered this earth, reigning in at the very top as the dominant species, but at what cost, and to what ends? What can we do next, if the next obstacle is too high to hurdle?

Can we pull any wisdom out of the phrase, “Do not bite the hand that feeds you,” as we continue to bore holes into the earth to extract materials that won’t be available again for millions of years? This isn’t to say that our society could do without, but it is healthy to recognize our faults as a growing species, literally.

NASA’s budget for 2018 fiscal year comes in at $19.1 billion, and in an outline describing how Congress wants that money spent, “Increased cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses on the nation’s efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research.”

The corporate figurehead, Elon Musk, the genius behind Tesla and Spacex, is hard at work at not just slowing down the rate at which we spend valuable earth resources, but is furthering humanity’s capacity to physically explore the universe beyond our moon. He’s playing the long-term game, leaving a legacy for himself and hopefully a chance for humanity to survive what’s headed for us next. We need to recognize the importance in what he’s doing and start thinking ahead.

Perhaps destruction isn’t just around the corner, but time, in terms of a human life, is less than a blink of the eye to the universe. Doing what we can now, with what we have, while we have it, is absolutely imperative and is what we should be doing anyways.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Published February 8, 2018 @TheMissourian

 

Swells

Feb 2, 2016

The ocean was always bigger than me. There were a few things in life I was scared of, but water was never one of them. I couldn’t understand why everyone told me to be careful around the dock. If I happened to slip on the soaked wooden grain, I didn’t need to worry. A wave or two would always catch me, dampening my fall and leaving me with nothing worse than a sore belly and wet hair for a while. I actually enjoyed the smell of sea salt as it evaporated off my skin throughout a day of work.

Why they gave the clumsy kid the job of hook and reel repair, I’ll never know. Everyday meant the same rusty bucket full of newly cracked reels tangled in strings of bent hooks. The dock crew I was working with told every new dockhand the same three things: “Don’t bother showing up late,” “Keep the hell out of my way,” and “You’ll get paid after your bucket’s empty.” The soggy bread and dried fish weren’t the best payment. Taking what you can get in the Cove came as natural. At least I hadn’t resorted to digging in the fish-waste piles for food like some other folks I knew.

The days were long and heat tested hidden wills only found soaked underneath brows of inpatient men. My boss was one of these men. Three hours had elapsed since the sun had passed the quarter mark in the sky. It was descending fast and I soon began to suspect my hands would never allow for the sought after sight of an empty bucket. The wrapping of bandages that covered my hands were ripping off due to hooks digging their way into the soft gauze as I reached for more reels. Acknowledging pain wasn’t an option at this point. I had to get done before dark.

Bread always felt strange in my mouth when chewing it, but it really didn’t matter tonight. I hadn’t eaten all day. I sat on the same bucket that had caused me so much trouble. The last month had passed in what I thought were days, and everyday ended with me sitting on the edge of this bucket. Changes in the moon and stars filled me in on lost time. Things always looked different if you stared at them for a while. I decided to close my eyes. The ocean mist felt nice on my face and chest.

Darkness filled my eyes when I opened them. I wasn’t breathing. The sensation of a back and forth swaying motion overcame me. Swimming was still an option but with my vision taken, I couldn’t find solid purchase and I didn’t have to strength to stay afloat for much longer. As sound returned to me, I didn’t hear anything but the crashing of waves. I wasn’t able to drown after I tried to give up. The scent of sea salt was too strong for me to pass.

 

Published February 2, 2016 @TheMissourian