Friday, November 11, 2016

...I learned in D&D

Everything I Need to Survive an Election Cycle, I learned in D&D.

Back in the day (early to mid 1980s) I was a fervent D&D player. One of the banes of our existence as characters were illusionists.  Basically harmless, magically, but their illusions could cause genuine havoc, make you waste attacks on unreal things, and so on. As with anti-fireball formation (we all march 10 feet apart in open country), it became standard practice when attacked with magic to "attempt to disbelieve."

Attempting to disbelieve, in the D&D of the day, was an interesting thing. It was a roll against your intelligence or wisdom (I don't recall which. It's been a long time. Probably Int, since my characters were notoriously low on wisdom.) to see if the illusionist's spell actually convinced you.

Today, the mainstream media and all the screaming monkey political sites to the left of center are screaming themselves horse that the end of the world is nigh. A Trump presidency will waken the Deep Ones and that really will be that. Which is pretty much what they've been saying right along.

Attempt to disbelieve. Gosh.  That changes things.

This translates to: The end of the world is nigh for mainstream media. I already talked about that. The end of the world may be nigh for the authoritarian left, who would willingly censor anything that disagrees with them. In both those cases, I say bring it. We'll get by okay without either one.

You're a racist/sexist/fascist if you don't believe {whatever} about Trump.

Attempt to disbelieve.  Gosh. That changes things.

This translates to "Believe what I say you should, or I'll call you names."  Tell you what. I'll believe what I see fit, you believe what you see fit, and together we'll see who, if any of us, is right. I've been wrong about things before. I will be again, but I'm not afraid to face that. If you are afraid to be wrong, well...grow up. Get used to it. None of us are all knowing, and to my way of thinking we'd all better take a big dose of humility before we tell someone else what to do or how to think.

Those {insert political slur}  will be the death of the country/liberty/etc.

Attempt to disbelieve.  Gosh. That changes things.

It's a big country. There is room for lots of ideas. Not all of them are nice or pleasant, and I guarantee that some will offend you. If nobody is actively attacking you, bear in mind that talk is cheap. Nowhere has this been more apparent than the preceding political cycle. Talk was cheap. Talk was so cheap that virtually nothing of substance was discussed.

If you're not with me, then you're my enemy.
Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Attempt to disbelieve. Gosh.

Those were the two most singularly stupid lines in the entire Star Wars prequel trilogy. The first, because it's the culminating whine,  telling us not that Anakin has fallen, but that he's gotten so far up his own arse believing his personal struggle, that anyone who dares disagree is clearly attacking him.  The latter because Star Wars is a fairy tale. The entire rest of the series has been about resisting and fighting the dark side, that there is good and evil, and that good will triumph. It's a little late to apply realism to the matter, but what the heck? Let's go on ahead and look at it as though they were real people.

Shit, Obiwan, did you somehow miss that Anakin was losing his mind? Why not back off a few steps and listen. Let him tell you what he's seen, because clearly you've missed some major events in his life. Okay, okay, Obiwan wasn't in any better shape. He'd just seen all the young padawans in the temple slaughtered by Anakin, and the last thing he wanted was to lose the will to kill Anakin Skywalker. Whatever he said, he believed the same thing. If you're not with the light side and the Republic, you're against it, and thus, my enemy. Cue the highly improbable lightsaber battle.

Seriously, anyone who believes the first line is so caught up in their own narrative that they're not really cogent of the outside world, and they're showing zero empathy. (See also: mainstream media.) Yes, I know it's paraphrasing Matthew, from the Bible.  That may be important to you, but I actually had a class in college on Biblical lit. I have some idea how the book came to be what it is today, so it doesn't surprise me to find horse nuggets like that scattered amongst more useful stuff.

Since we're not just filling in a patch of bad dialog before an epic duel between Good(tm) and Evil(tm),  if someone says that to you, and they're not actively pointing a gun at you, listen to what they're really saying: I'm upset. I feel backed into a corner and assaulted from all sides. Will you please not be my enemy?" It takes patience. The aforementioned mainstream media has everyone's nerves raw, especially those of us old enough that we took mainstream media seriously in this election. We're like Obiwan. We've seen too much. We know changes are coming and we're probably not going to like them, and it's hard. But let them calm down. Then talk to them.

Those {insert political slur}  are evil for evil's sake.

Attempt to disbelieve. Gosh. That seems pretty unlikely.

Most people, the overwhelming majority of people, just want to get through their day, get home to the family, take care of their children, cats, etc, and get some sleep. They don't sit in dark rooms cackling on how they can do EVIL tomorrow. That's a fairy tale trope, and it has no business in fiction meant for adults, let alone real world thought. There are sociopaths in the world, either born that way or, more commonly, tortured (particularly early in life) to the point where hurting others is the only pleasure they know. By traumatizing someone, you push them that direction, and you encourage them to generalize it to everyone like you. My hypothesis here is that the alt-right was essentially created by the political correctness movement that made it ok to attack someone for any little offense. I do not for a moment say those offenses weren't real or important, only that attacking someone is almost never a good idea. As friend Jeff might say, that's tribalism at work. Activism is not a license to be an asshole. It's a sales job.

I don't owe any respect because they're {insert something you don't like.}  

Attempt to disbelieve. Yeah, actually you do. I think they call this manners.

You owe, I owe, we all owe everyone basic politeness. Basic politeness is how confrontations are de-escalated, and as Mark Macyoung says, "The word 'Mother****er' plays no part in de-escalation." Does that mean we must yield all our personal mores and values? Of course not. What it means is simply asking yourself "if the tables were turned, would I want to be treated this way?" and asking it before you open your mouth or sit down to write a post, or shoot a video. Sadly, the answer "I have been treated this way!" is not license to do it to others. It's do you want to be treated this way. Some people will take advantage of this. There's an asshole in every crowd, but politeness is how we keep assholes from running the civilization.

I know everything. You should listen to me.

Attempt to disbelieve. Hoo boy. There's a whopper.

Hey look. I'm just some guy who's written a few novels. Like I said, I've been wrong before. I'll be wrong again, and I'm ok with that. What I'm trying to put into words here is just...please, be patient with your brother/sister/othergendered Americans.  Both sides of the political fence have had a hard few months, mostly at the hands of an idiot media. We're in this together, and we have to make it work together. It would be good if we could avoid killing one another over it. If we can agree on this, then we can talk about how big a 10 foot diameter fireball is and why detonating it in a 10x10 hallway is a bad idea.


No comments:

Blog Archive