condescending twatbags, controversies, rants, social media, stupid people, true crime, wingnuts

9/11 conspiracy theorists need to “zip it”…

The featured photo is a screenshot of the Facebook post in the Exploring Virginia group that inspired today’s rant.

As you probably know, yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of September 11th, or “9/11”. That was the horrifying day in 2001 when terrorists attacked the United States using airplanes. Every year, people remember where they were and what they were doing on that dark day in US history. And every year, certain people crawl out from under their rocks and post conspiracy theories about why 9/11 is an elaborate hoax.

Because I am the wife of someone who was actually in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I don’t believe the conspiracy theorists. I think their “theories” are 100 percent bullshit. Moreover, I think posting their contemptuous lies, especially on the anniversary of that act of terrorism, is incredibly offensive and distasteful… especially to those who were there to see the horrors of it firsthand.

My husband was in one of the innermost rings of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. He was there to do his job as a U.S. Soldier, something he was very proud to do for about 30 years of his life, on active duty, as a reservist, and later as a full-time member of the National Guard. He was there to see people who were injured or killed by the jetliner that crashed into his workplace. He heard the screams, the alarms, and cries of people as they rushed out of the building. He later heard the silence when the airports shut down, the metros stopped running, and people were stunned into quiet. He smelled the burning fuel, the destroyed and burned building materials, burning flesh, and spilled blood.

After September 11, 2001, my husband was there to help take care of grieving families who lost their loved ones forever. In his case, it was a family whose beloved matriarch was killed while she was working as a civilian in the Pentagon. He was there to help her family when they all came to Washington, DC for a memorial service to honor the many dead, just from the Pentagon strike. He saw their tears and anguished as they realized that their family member was killed by strangers from faraway lands just for being at work. And those people who carried out their suicide mission also took a couple hundred innocent passengers and crew members with them as they crashed that airplane into the Pentagon.

Yesterday, someone in the Exploring Virginia Facebook group posted a photo of the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial. I haven’t seen it in person myself, because we left the Northern Virginia area years ago. The post, which was meant to be respectful and reverent, quickly turned into an epic shitstorm as a couple of conspiracy theorists started posting antagonistic comments about how 9/11 was all a hoax and we’d all been “lied to” by the U.S. government. Before I blocked the offenders, I noticed that one of them wrote that it was really a scud missile that hit the Pentagon, not a plane full of people. I’d love to know where that idiot thinks all of those people on the airplane went if they weren’t on the aircraft. Are they all in the witness protection program, living in Roswell, New Mexico? Perhaps the Bermuda Triangle?

This morning, I see an admin in that group had to turn off commenting. I’m sure it was because of the insensitive assholes who felt the need to push their conspiracy theorist bullshit on a day when so many people are still grieving. A few people did take on the conspiracy theorists. One person even outright stated that she felt it was in very poor taste to be pushing that agenda when so many people are still mourning lost loved ones. There are still people whose friends and family members vanished without a trace. They didn’t even have anything left to bury! Even in 2023, 22 years after that day, they’re still identifying the DNA left in the remains. Two more victims were identified just a few days ago; they were the first since 2021. 9/11/01 was just an indescribably terrible day, and for some people, the horror is still evolving.

Yesterday, Bill came home and told me that, for the first time, he’d seen a video of that day. He said he’d wished he’d never seen it, because it showed a man who jumped from one of the World Trade Center’s towers. The man must have realized he had a choice of waiting to die from the fire, smoke inhalation, or the building’s inevitable collapse, or simply jumping from the building and ending it right then and there. He chose to jump. Can you even imagine the absolute horror of that situation? He must have been terrified! And imagine how this man’s family members and friends feel, knowing that’s how he went out of this world!

I realize that not everyone believes the official story about September 11, 2001. I also know all too well that you can’t argue with people who have stubbornly made up their minds. I just wish these folks would give their conspiracy theories a rest on the anniversary. There are 364-365 other days per year to push nonsense conspiracy theories. September 11th should be a day when Americans come together and mourn the people who died on that day, or on a later day, due to illnesses or injuries stemming from that day… or those whose lives were permanently changed for the worse because of that day.

Conspiracy theorists need to “zip it”, but especially on the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Have some respect for those who really lost something on that day… there were so many of them! And I’ll bet not a single one of the people who experienced such profound losses gives a single shit about the preposterous theories some of these tin foil hat wearing morons are pushing. The theories they push don’t change anything. All they do is frustrate, annoy, and anger people who have already been through enough because of that day. Give it a rest, please. For America.

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Bill, lessons learned, love, marriage, musings

Mundane days that will forever change your life…

I saved the featured photo sometime around 9/11/01. I distinctly remember my former shrink, now a true friend, had shared it in an email to his friends and family in the wake of 9/11. It changed my life when he did that, just as my life was changed when I met him…

It’s September 11th again. Ever since 2001, September 11th has taken on a new significance to a lot of people, especially those of us who are from the United States. I remember all too well that day. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. I was in my last year of graduate school at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. I had gone to my social work field placement location.

That morning, I had Bill on my mind, because over Labor Day weekend, we’d had the most magical visit in Natural Bridge, Virginia. He was working at the Pentagon, having just started there a month prior. We met at my grandmother’s house and had a gorgeous, fun, comfortable, unforgettable weekend. By the end of it, we were in love. It was the first and only time I’ve ever been “in love”. Yes, I had many crushes when I was younger, but I was never in love. And now, I was… I knew I loved Bill after that weekend, and I later found out that he loved me back. However, even after that weekend, we were still calling each other “friends”. Our relationship wasn’t official at that point.

On September 11, 2001, it was a lovely, perfectly ordinary day, just as it is today. I was buoyed by the fact that at age 29, I had finally met someone with whom I could have a romantic relationship. He made me feel so comfortable, and I had never experienced that with anyone before. We just fit together so perfectly. And if you know the story of exactly how and where we met, you might know how unlikely and incredible that is. Or maybe it’s not. Plenty of people who met in church or were high school sweethearts turn out to be completely wrong for each other.

When I heard about what happened at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I did worry. I wasn’t hysterical or anything. I somehow knew, deep down, that he was okay. But I wasn’t sure, so of course I worried… and I wondered if my intuition was wrong, and he was dead. By age 29, life had already taught me that I should never be too optimistic about anything. Too often, I had gotten up my hopes only to see them dashed. In fact, even though I felt like I was in love, I wasn’t completely sure Bill loved me, too.

Many hours after the Pentagon was struck by a jet airliner, I got a message from Bill. He had tried to call me earlier, but somehow had the wrong phone number. Because he was in the Army, he’d had to work all day and well into the night. Once he finally got home to his apartment, he was able to send me an instant message on Yahoo! Messenger. I had just gotten off the phone with my mom, an experienced Air Force wife. I had just told her about Bill, and she immediately gave me advice. She’d been through somewhat similar things with my dad when he was on active duty, although of course my dad never had to deal with anything like 9/11.

Once Bill contacted me and told me he was okay, I suggested that we tell people we were dating. If something had happened to him, I wouldn’t have known until the casualty lists were made public. On the other hand, if he hadn’t concluded we were in love over Labor Day, he would have had the perfect excuse to ghost me… He wouldn’t have considered doing that, though. Bill isn’t like that, which is one reason why I love him so. My husband is one of the kindest, most considerate, most decent people I’ve ever met. He almost always gives people the benefit of the doubt. I probably don’t deserve him. But then, if I were more like him, we’d probably be divorced by now, because we’d constantly be fighting off exploitive people like Ex.

This morning, as we were having breakfast, I was noticing all of the 9/11 posts on Facebook. I looked back at my memories and realized that in September 2015, we were on a trip I dubbed The Beer and Fucking Tour. I called it that because we went to Austria and visited two beer spas and two areas that incorporated the word “fuck” in them. There was Fucking, Austria (since renamed Fugging after 1000 years), and Fuckersberg, which turned out to be a big field in a very picturesque area.

This sign is no longer posted, because too many people were stealing and fucking under it for posterity… I wonder how many babies were born because of this sign… yet another random thing that could have had a profound effect on someone.

We had an amazing time on that long weekend, just as we did in 2001. We drove my Mini Cooper convertible, and the weather was lovely, just like it was in 2001, so we had the top down. It was fun to go to the beer spa and the beer pool, which we still talk about in reverent terms eight years later. We laugh about Fucking and Fuckersberg. But the most incredible event of that trip happened in a very ordinary place… a place we probably wouldn’t have visited at the right time if we hadn’t decided to visit Fuckersberg, which was out of the way of our onward travel plans.

Because we went to see the big field called Fuckersberg, we hit traffic in Munich. And because Bill doesn’t always want to stop when I really need to eat, we were running late for lunch. I got very HANGRY, especially as it got closer to the witching hour of 2:00 PM, which is when a lot of restaurants close after the lunch service. At the time of this trip, Bill was in an online graduate program. He had a paper due, so he was eager to get to our hotel and wanted to press onward. But I needed food, so we pulled off the Autobahn and went looking for a place that didn’t take a “pause” after lunch.

I remember that we were having a hard time finding a restaurant. I told Bill that he could just take me to McDonald’s or buy me some chocolate. I just needed to raise my blood sugar before I had a total meltdown. Bill was cussing a lot, which was also causing me stress. I don’t usually mind hearing him swear, but when I’m irritable and hungry, it really grates on my nerves. Just as we were about to give up our search and get back on the Autobahn to look for a proper rest stop, I saw a restaurant that might be suitable for lunch. We pulled into their parking lot.

We ended up at this very run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant in a Munich suburb. My mood was decidedly dark as we went into the crowded dining room and took a seat among many large families with loud children. I excused myself to use the restroom, and by the time I returned, Bill had already ordered a half liter of Primitivo (mostly for me) and some San Pellegrino. I was still grumbling as I sat there nibbling on bread and drinking the wine.

I looked up and noticed some cows grazing in a field just outside of the far window. For some reason, I wanted to take a picture of the cows, so I pulled out my iPhone. At that point, I didn’t know how to zoom on an iPhone, so I got a picture that was mostly of the dining room. That’s when I had a very profound experience that I don’t think I’ll ever forget, at least not as long as my mind still works properly.

There’s a stranger in the picture who changed my life.

When I took that photo, I hadn’t immediately noticed the man in the top left corner. It wasn’t until my blood sugar was normal that I saw him sitting with a group of people. He was wearing interesting clothes and clearly wasn’t from Germany. I discreetly pointed him out to Bill, who told me he was a Buddhist monk. I noticed he was with a young German woman who seemed absolutely enthralled and delighted by his company. There were some other locals with him. I watched them give him a pair of what appeared to be hand knitted green socks.

As he accepted the socks, he bowed and smiled, and I noticed that he had this incredibly tranquil aura about him. He had the most serene and gentle countenance I had ever seen. Just looking at him from across the room put me at ease. I was awestruck, even though I never spoke to him, nor do I think he even noticed me. In a blog post I wrote in 2015, I explained it like this:

I mentioned it to Bill who explained what he knows about Buddhism.  I still don’t know much about it, but I was really moved by his presence and how kind and decent he seemed to be.  It’s not often you run into someone with such a peaceful and pleasant aura.  He seemed like a very special person just by his manner.  I didn’t even speak to him, but his body language said enough.  I forgot my initial annoyance and relaxed, truly inspired by just watching the monk interact with his companions.  He left before we did, with the German woman who seemed so enchanted by him.

Edited to add…  My German friend, Susanne, says that the monk is Toyoshige Sekiguchi from Japan. He is rather famous and is currently a guest at a farm in Hohenschäftlarn, which is the town where the restaurant where we had lunch is located.  It turns out the reason I thought the monk was so peaceful is because his life’s work is all about promoting peace and nuclear disarmament.  Of all the places we could have eaten…  How amazing.

Years later, I realize that if we’d been at that place at a different time, or if we’d gone to McDonald’s, I would have missed that experience. Maybe I would have had a different, equally incredible experience, but I would have missed that one. My life would have been different. It probably wouldn’t have been significantly different, but it would not be the same as it is today, because I would have missed that profound moment in time, when we happened to eat at a very ordinary Italian restaurant on a random exit near Munich.

I shared that incredible experience with a man I happened to meet at just the right time in a chat room on the Internet… a man who could have so easily exited my life on September 11, 2001. He was in the wedge of the Pentagon where the plane crashed, but deep enough into the building that he missed being obliterated by the fuselage when it collided. That day changed Bill’s life, just as it changed mine. It changed the trajectory of our lives.

The older I get, the more I think some things were just meant to happen. Even really evil things like September 11th can spawn things that turn out to be good in the long run, if you look at it from a very macro perspective. I think Bill and I still would have gotten married if 9/11 hadn’t happened, but it might have taken longer. We might have taken more time to be sure it was the right thing to do. After what he went through with his ex wife, I could understand Bill wanting to take his time. But that close call on 9/11 made him realize that tomorrow is never promised to anyone.

I think about what came after 9/11… wars in two countries, with countless people dying or maimed. On the other hand, a lot of people were born because of 9/11 and the wars that followed. That event put people in places they might not have ordinarily been. A lot of lessons were learned… some good, and some bad.

Sometimes seemingly innocuous decisions end up changing or even ending your life. It’s on days like September 11th, that I always remember that lesson. You could go to work one day and find out that your undeclared boyfriend has suddenly been killed by a plane crashing into his workplace. Or you could end up in an ordinary restaurant in a non-specific town, watching a Buddhist monk accepting green socks, feeling peace wash over you just noticing his gentle, peaceful aura. Or you could pass a playground, watching small children, just discovering life, running toward the fence, literally cheering when they see the garbage man coming to empty the trash cans (which I did recently witness in my little town). Life is just full of that stuff. You can see it for yourself if you look for it.

Anyway… I figure I’ve prattled on long enough about this topic. I’ve got a neglected guitar that needs a few minutes of attention, and a dog who would love to take a walk. I also want to order some stuff from Aran Sweater Market and Henri Willig. So I’m going to end this post and get on with the day. If anything, I hope anyone who cared enough to read this post will take a moment to think about the little miracles in every day… things that happened and somehow changed your life forever. Maybe it will change your perspective somehow… perhaps even in a profound, life altering way.

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anniversary, Bill, love, marriage, memories

What happened after September 12, 2001…

Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of 9/11. I noticed that not a lot of people posted about it, probably because a lot of us are preoccupied with the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II. I know I watched some of her final journey from Balmoral to Edinburgh. Although I’ve seen some posts about how the monarchy needs to be abolished, the truth is, a lot of people loved the queen. Of course she wasn’t perfect, and there were some things she did that angered people. But then, nobody’s perfect… and I’m not so sure it’s that easy to dissolve the British monarchy. Maybe it will happen someday, but I don’t think it will in my lifetime.

In any case, every year on 9/11, I remember what I was doing that day. I even remember what I was wearing. I remember how, all day, I wondered if Bill was okay. He had just been relocated to the Pentagon and was working there on 9/11. He happened to be in the wedge that got hit. In fact, his office had just been moved the week prior. If it hadn’t been moved, he probably would have been killed on 9/11. We were just “friends” at that point, having just spent a truly wonderful Labor Day weekend together. I knew we were developing strong romantic feelings for each other, but we still hadn’t really made our relationship public. And so, on 9/11/01, no one would have known to tell me if Bill had died or been injured.

I remember that evening, talking to my mom on the phone. I told her about my “friend” who worked in the Pentagon. She was an experienced Air Force wife, so she gave me some advice. After I got off the phone, I got a PM from Bill on Yahoo! Messenger. He said he’d tried to call me, but he had the wrong number. We had a serious conversation, and I told him that if he considered me his girlfriend, it might be a good idea to tell people about my existence. He agreed, and we announced to friends and family that we were together.

We also started to date in person regularly. This was a new thing for me, because I didn’t really date much at all before I met Bill. I’d had a high school boyfriend, but that was a very platonic relationship. I had no sexual history to speak of, and although I was only 29 years old, I thought I was going to die a virgin. So it was kind of strange to be dating a man, especially since he was divorced and had children.

Because I lived in South Carolina and he lived in Virginia, our dates involved long weekends at one or the other’s apartments. I came to enjoy those weekends very much, even though we were both broke. We were just so comfortable with each other. We always had a good time doing whatever… watching movies, taking walks, eating cheap food… and then he decided not to practice Mormonism anymore, which was a great thing. I remember going to his apartment once, having left beer in his fridge during my last visit. The beer was finished. I asked him what happened to it, and he said he drank it. I said, “Yea!”

In November 2001, Bill and his mom joined us at our Thanksgiving shindig at my Granny’s house in Virginia. They fit right in with my family. Bill’s mom liked me, and my parents loved Bill, which I knew they would. My dad made jokes about Bill being LDS, but I assured him that when he met Bill, he’d love him. Sure enough, I was right. I went to visit Bill at Christmas; then he flew to Arizona to see his kids. That turned out to be his last good holiday with his kids before his Ex went into full alienation mode.

A few weeks later, we were online, and I told Bill I wanted to give him a candy pop ring. He said, “Don’t do that… because I want to give you a ring.”

“Does this mean you want to get married?” I asked.

“Yes.” He said.

“So are we now engaged?” I asked.

“Yes, I think so.” He said.

I went into my last semester of graduate school unexpectedly engaged to be married. I never thought it would happen. Two months later, before I got on a plane to Jamaica to attend my sister’s destination wedding, Bill took me out to dinner at 1789 restaurant in Georgetown, where he presented me with a beautiful engagement ring. I’ve worn it every day since then. My finger has a permanent groove in it. 2002 was a big year for us… I finished dual master’s degrees and got married. I became a military wife and stepmother. Of course, I barely count myself as a stepmother, given how alienated Bill’s daughters were. But at least one of them came around, eventually.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been married for almost 20 years. In just two months, we’ll pass that milestone. It seems like yesterday, we were online friends, and I was wondering if he’d survived 9/11. I’m so grateful that he did survive, because I could not have imagined a more perfect husband for me. We are ridiculously compatible, which is no small feat. Like I said, it’s not like I dated much before we met. I look at the state of the world now, and I feel fortunate that Bill and I have been together to experience it. We’ve shared a lot of incredible life events that have run the gamut, happy, sad, infuriating, amazing… And we still light up each other’s faces. Below is a photo I took on Saturday, after we’d been drinking wine in the rain at our village’s wine fest. It amazes me that after twenty years, I still smile like this when I’m with Bill.

No makeup… and my chins showed up, too.

Anyway… I didn’t mean to get all mushy. I guess I just wanted to write something kind of sweet for once, instead of something angry, snarky, or depressing. The day after 9/11, we were an official couple.  Four months after that, we were engaged.  Ten months after we got engaged, we were married at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.  The last twenty years have flown by.  Despite my bitching, grousing, moaning, and negativity, it’s mostly been a wonderful trip.  But it definitely hasn’t been without its challenges, as any regular reader of this blog knows.  

I’m so glad I took that leap of faith.  I would not trade my life now for what I was preparing for when Bill and I met.  It would have been a very different life for me… I might have been successful.  Maybe I might have even found another man to love, although I think it might be hard to find one that is as compatible as Bill is.    

I don’t get crushes anymore.  I don’t have any temptation to be with anyone else.  I don’t know if that’s normal, but I do know that while I might notice a good looking man, I don’t feel like trading Bill for that other guy.  I don’t wonder about intimacy with other men.  I don’t wonder how it would have turned out if one of my old crushes had liked me back.  I don’t know if that makes me unusual or lucky.  I just know that the one thing in life that I really did do right was get married to Bill.

While I don’t cherish the horrific memories of 9/11, I do think that 9/11 pushed us together sooner. I don’t think we would have been as quick to get together if it weren’t for that terrible day, when I didn’t know if he was dead or alive, and he didn’t know if he was going to survive. Bill was recovering from a truly toxic relationship, and I was just nervous and scared, and wanting to finally launch a career I might have been proud of. I guess the universe simply had different plans for both of us. I really can’t complain. In fact, every day, it amazes me how things have turned out for us.

Thank God for guys like Bill… who appreciate complicated women like me.  I can’t imagine being with anyone else…

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Germany, history, lessons learned, politicians, politics

Twenty years after 9/11, basic decency is disappearing…

A couple of years ago, I wrote my 9/11 story and posted it on this blog. Almost everybody who was alive on 9/11/01 has a 9/11 story. I guess the only ones who don’t are those who were somehow unconscious that day. Or maybe people who live in remote places they have never left, where the world’s news can’t reach them.

Suffice to say, those of us who live in the modern world, where there’s television and Internet, have a 9/11 story. Or, at the very least, they’ve heard other people’s memories of that day, if they weren’t around at that time. Like… I wasn’t here for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I’ve read and heard plenty of stories of that day. I think 9/11 was much bigger than Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11 permanently changed the world.

I remember 9/11 very well. It was the week after Bill and I, then just “friends”, had a magical Labor Day weekend. No one in our families knew we were dating. So, when Bill went to work at the Pentagon on 9/11, no one knew that he had a special friend who would worry all day, wondering if he had survived. After 9/11, we decided that we needed to make our relationship official. A few months later, we were engaged. We married in 2002.

I remember what it was like for Bill in the days that followed September 11, 2001. At that time, people had come together in solidarity. There were people who offered their support to any and all emergency workers. Police officers, nurses, doctors, military service members, firefighters, were all being heralded as heroes. I remember how people would stop Bill when he was in uniform and thank him for his service.

I read a story this morning about a couple who happened to be on a flight from England bound for Houston, Texas that got diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada. They fell in love while they were stranded in Canada. Aside from falling in love, the couple, along with all of the other 7000 people who were suddenly diverted to Gander because of terrorism, enjoyed the most extraordinary hospitality from the locals in Gander.

Americans were Americans, before they were Democrats or Republicans. People came together to help each other through a crisis. It wasn’t just Americans, either. I wasn’t in Germany at that time, but this morning, I read an article about what it was like in Stuttgart on 9/11. Germans and Americans stood side by side in solidarity as people made sense of what happened.

Above is a post that reminded me about how Germans and Americans came together after 9/11. That photo brought tears to my eyes yesterday, partly because I was moved, and partly because it probably wouldn’t happen in 2021.

Twenty years later, it seems like most of the goodwill and civility that was so prevalent after 9/11 is gone. Now, on 9/11/21, we have people laughing at teenagers who share personal stories about losing family members to COVID-19. Grady Knox, a high school student in Tennessee, bravely tried to explain why he thinks mask mandates are a good thing to have in his school. People told him to shut up. It could not have been easy for Grady to stand up and talk about losing his grandmother. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of people. But for him to stand up and speak and then have his neighbors laugh at him and tell him to shut up… well, that’s just shameful. And it makes me think that those people are not good people. They have learned nothing, and have no empathy for others.

What the hell is WRONG with people?

Today, we have governors who are more interested in money and power than they are in saving human lives (except for the unborn, of course). Joe Biden– recently reviled for the way the U.S. military FINALLY left Afghanistan after twenty long years– delivered a tough speech, expressing how disappointed he is in the complete lack of concern Republican leaders have for their constituents. Biden has been threatened with lawsuits, as he signs legislation mandating that people in certain workplaces get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden is not looking so wimpy now, as he tells the governors to “have at it” in their plans to sue him.

President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

From MSNBC: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-republicans-hope-derail-biden-s-bold-new-vaccine-policy-n1278900?cid=sm_fb_maddow&fbclid=IwAR07wYh1NCrCl2lTB2R_sMkiCVLML7tycCXzr-Srn8oyNeQuZhq0JtZjvOY

I read one comment from a Republican who said if Donald Trump had ever tried to enforce vaccinations, people would be “horrified” and calling for Trump’s head on a platter. However, I think it’s highly unlikely that Trump would have ever done what Joe Biden is doing. Trump does not care about anyone but himself, and he would not have done something that would alienate his conservative base the way the vaccine and mask mandates would have. There is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden has basic decency and respect for others. Donald Trump, simply put, does not.

Donald Trump’s encouragement to get the vaccine was lukewarm… he got boos and laughter. I think he’s created monsters.
Southerners who are getting sick aren’t thinking of anyone but themselves… until they get sick and realize just how fucking horrible COVID is.

Today, we have governors who are gleefully signing legislation that pits neighbors against each other, and puts bounties on the heads of women who seek abortions. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is fine with people walking around, spreading COVID-19 as they tote their guns openly and run their mouths about their freedoms. Freedom means nothing if you’re dead… but try to explain that to some of these folks. They insist that COVID-19 is not a risk for them or or their families… or anyone else. Somehow, they’ve managed to ignore the news stories and documentaries about people who have had COVID-19. They’ve even managed to ignore Howard Stern, who has berated the willfully ignorant.

I can’t wait to vote for whomever runs against this man.
I empathize with his frustration.

This antipathy especially happens on the Internet. Even on the most benign of posts, there’s a chance someone will lash out with nastiness or unnecessary snark. Yesterday, I was answering a question on Toytown Germany from an American who is trying to get her US Moderna shots recognized by a local pharmacist, so she can enjoy a more normal life. I expressed empathy for her situation, commenting that it would be nice if we had a more global solution that would make it easier for people from all countries to get their shots recognized. It’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage the vaccines and reward people for doing the right thing. You’d think that would be a pretty innocuous comment, right? I certainly didn’t think it would go south.

Sure enough, some guy from up north responded snarkily, by sharing a picture of the yellow World Health Organization booklet, and writing that is the global standard that works fine. Yes, it’s true, that yellow booklet is used around the world. But, for some reason, the CDC isn’t using it, so that comment isn’t helpful. There are a lot of Americans who live in Germany. Some of them got shots when they went to the USA, where they were easier to get. Then they came back to Germany and, if they live in an area where there aren’t a lot of Americans, are not able to get their vaccines made official in Germany. This is a problem. I was trying to help someone solve the problem for themselves. For my efforts, I got a shitty comment from some smartass who thought that was the right time to act like a jerk.

I could have ignored it entirely. Or I could have responded with a snarky comment of my own. Instead, I agreed that the yellow booklet is useful around the world, but it’s not helpful to Americans in Germany right now. Americans aren’t issued the yellow booklets, even though that would make things easier. Being rude to me doesn’t change that fact. And then I added that I was trying to be nice, and being snarky and negative isn’t helpful to the community. Those kinds of crappy responses just discourage people from posting, which defeats the purpose of having an online community… or any community, really. Why try to help someone if you’re going to be mocked for your efforts?

I realize that even as I preach about this, I’m as guilty as anyone is. I do try not to respond to people with rudeness. Sometimes, I will admit, I fail. Because, like so many other people, I’m fed up. I’m tired of people who can’t simply cooperate and have basic respect for other people. But still, I think being kind is the better way to go, most of the time. I truly do believe that being understanding and decent is, overall, better than being angry, mean, malicious, and rude. There really is enough of that in the world today.

I think it’s sad that we haven’t learned much from 9/11. On September 11, 2001, people around the world came together in solidarity. On September 11, 2021, a lot of people are acting like selfish jerks. It’s depressing… although, I guess if I look for it, I can find some positive things about today. Like, for instance, the fact that Bill was not killed on 9/11, and despite everything, we’re still together and basically healthy and happy with each other’s company. But it’s hard to ignore all of the divisiveness and evil that is being perpetuated right now.

Twenty years later, when things had really gone to shit.

I do hope that people will find a way to come together. Right now, I’m reminded of the opening of the film, Lean on Me… as we see how things can change for the worse in 20 years. Maybe a new version of Mr. Clark is in order to straighten us all out… Maybe Joe Biden is turning into him now. One can always hope, right?

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