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Why do I write? Why should I write? I’m not all that sure why I do, or whether doing so does any good or not. Perhaps it’s some type of a neurological defect, a compulsion to put my thoughts to paper, which usually do, even when where they end up doesn’t have the slightest bit of paper, just bits and bytes.
Most of what I write, I write for me. I think it might be because most of the time I’m thinking, about all sorts of things, some random, and in wanting to make sense, or a reasonable facsimile of sense, of everything that’s going on around everywhere, and if I can collect all those disparate things floating around in my consciousness, if I can structure it into something that’s coherent, something that can make sense to other people, I can be just that little bit more sure that the way I have things worked out in this skull of mine is more or less kind of close to the way things actually are, or the way things actually could be.
But since that might be why I write, it sure as hell sounds as good as any other explanation, I don’t see what good to anyone else it would do to read it.
It seems to be as clear as day that that I’m right about most of the things I think about, my positions on all the issues seem to be well thought out, but there are people who would vehemently, venomously disagree with pretty much anything I could possibly say, and I’m sure more than a few of them feel that they have things worked out just as well as I do. But both of us can’t both be right.
If I was going to pigeon hole myself, I’d label myself politically very firm liberal-leftist with libertarian tendencies. Abortion doesn’t bother me at all, I think drugs should be legalized, I don’t get apoplectic if a see a tit during the Super Bowl, guys should be able to marry guys and gals ought to be able to marry gals, if I wanted to pay someone for a quick hummer I should be able to, pressing 1 for English doesn’t annoy me, people should feel free to gamble away their house, and I think something as absurd as religion should be a very, very private affair. But how can I be so sure?
I haven’t got any special qualifications to be taken seriously about anything. My resume is embarrassingly thin. I’ve got a High School diploma, I was the valedictorian, but that’s out of a class of two dozen from a school packed with criminals. The only other thing I could think of to put on there is that I’m an ordained reverend, thank you Universal Life Church. However, when it comes right down to it, I’m just a seventeen year old kid from a city in a state that most other Americans think is a foreign country. I truly have zero qualifications. I’m just another guy, lost in this world without a map. I have no special insights, no unique fountain of truth. I feel that I’m right, that even if the broad sense of things doesn’t make an iota of sense, at least the reasons I feel the way I do about specific issues do.
In reality, I see no reason to assume I’m anymore right than anyone else. Bill Kristol, Pat Robertson, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Michael Behe, George W. Bush, there’s no reason I should be any more right about any possible thing than these people are. Anything I write that by chance someone happens to read should be read with as much skepticism as can be mustered. All of it’s the product of an imperfect mind trying to make sense of an incomprehensible world. I may get a few things right, but I have to be getting a few wrong, but hopefully, as time goes on, and I grow nearer the precipice, I can get closer to what is.
That question, “why the fuck do I bother writing?” seems slightly more interesting, given that that shining jewel of a newspaper, Las Cruces’ own Sun-News, saw fit to publish my letter. I write them. Earlier they published a letter from what I would assume to have to be a fascist Christian zealot, not a very bright one at that, with the thesis of “we don’t deserve Bush,” that was the actual title, and going by that alone, any reasonable person could think to themselves, “well shit, of course Bush isn’t a president we deserve.” But what the zealot actually meant, the point of the letter, was that “we don’t deserve Bush” he’s much too good for us. What the fuck dude?! Someone can be that masochistic? He sounds like a battered wife who keeps crawling back to her husband.
He went on to say that Mr. Bush never gets the credit he deserves for how great the economy’s been doing, you know, the one with that whole recession thing looming over it and all. His third point is that people are always railing against the poor guy for not wanting to kill unborn children. Even though I’m all for baby killing, we should be tossing the little larval people off of bridges two at a time, I can’t remember the last time somebody jumped all over him on account of the abortion issue. After seven years of his regime occupying the White House, there are so many screw ups, nobody need bother bringing up abortion, You could pick from the war, water-boarding, torture, signing statements, Guantanamo Bay, habeas corpus, extraordinary rendition, domestic spying, nepotism, cronyism, corruption, hurricane Katrina, FEMA, Valerie Plame, or even the trigger happy Dick. Who needs to bring up abortion anymore? I don’t.
It was the guy’s middle and main point that really pissed me off, enough to jot off a letter to that paper. His argument goes something like this: since the War in Iraq started, more people have been killed in murders and highway accidents here in the states than the 4,000 or so soldiers that have died “over there,” so it must be safer to send our young people to Iraq, because of course the streets of Camden and Oakland are so much rougher than Baghdad and Fallujah. The problem with that is that it’s like comparing a crate of apples to boxcars of apples, a whole freight train load.
Sure, more people meet their maker violently here at home than have in those desert sands, but we’re dealing with 300,000,000 people here. Only around 800,000 people have served tours of duty in Iraq during the last five years. When you work out the numbers, it comes to being at least eight times more dangerous to be stationed in Iraq than it is to live in any ofAmerica’s most dangerous cities.
To claim that we’re saving the lives of our young people by shipping them to an overseas war is absolutely fucking absurd on its face. Much of the time I know it’s entirely possible for me to be wrong about something, but this is one that I know I am not. The least the dumb guy could’ve done is quoted the right figures; it would even have made his case all that much stronger. He understated his highway fatality figures by almost 400%, and the number of murders was twice and a half what he said.
That’s one of the reasons I write, because I don’t want all the bullshit I hear to go unanswered. A letter to the editor does do that much better than when I fire something off into the void of the internet. The only people reading this version of what I have to say are phantoms. But as it goes, I’d much rather write for phantoms than I would newspaper editors. All I can do is try to be me, whoever that is. But I can’t be me in a letter to the editor. I have to be the type of person they would want to print a letter from, I have to change my tone, to be more formal, reverent. I don’t like that tone, And this particular letter limits you to three hundred words; it can be hard to package things down that small, especially if it’s a response to something that requires a little vitriol. But sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice things that you prefer for a greater good. So, hopefully, at least a few thousand people were able to hear some semblance of my voice, and that dumb zealot didn’t go unanswered.