Protest

Trying out a new thing right now. I am trying to type with my eyes closed. I am using a friend’s app: Lex. It’s an AI-powered document editor of sorts. My hope is that I can write with my eyes closed, really write a lot more, and then ask Lex to simply fix the typos afterwards. Not sure if I will always type like this. I know there are pros and cons to it for sure. Slowing down to figure out how to type appropriately can be better for thinking. But it’s worth trying. Sometimes when I’m writing, I feel like my brain is ahead of my fingers. I mean, often. I am sure other people feel that way as well. We will see how this works. I always tell people they should write more. I tell myself this same message too. There are days where I certainly don’t want to write. Or even when I start writing and my fingers start feeling weird or I get all antsy and anxious, I just stop writing. That’s how it often feels, even for someone like me who has published thousands of essays and literally millions of words on the internet. It never gets super easy. I mean, maybe comparatively so. I also write basically anonymously, so I worry about it a bit less when I hit publish. I could imagine publishing in front of a big audience and getting more nervous. But that’s not me, and not really my goal. I don’t want to have to think that much about the audience. I just want to think about myself and what is important to me, my brain, and my emotions at the time.

And so, now I feel like I am picking up speed. A lot is going on in my life right now. I have shared some of it via this blog. It’s not meant to be a diary or journal of my play-by-play life. It’s meant more to be a tool to help me process all that is going on, all that I am thinking about, and all that is going on around me. That is the point of this, or at least the main point.

When I am thinking in a stream of consciousness like this – remember, my eyes are literally closed right now, and I am just typing as fast as I can – I can finally feel like my fingers are really starting to keep up. I wonder if this is like a form of meditation, a new type. Because as I mentioned, typically you get antsy when your thoughts are moving a lot faster than your fingers. It gives you more time to think. But right now, I am not really worried about much. I am just letting the thoughts fly and seeing how much I can write and how quickly. I am a pretty fast typist. I could be faster. I think I’m typically around 120 words per minute. But when I am writing, it’s something like probably 10 words per minute if I’m caring about every word, and something like 100 words per minute if I’m not. And right now, I am somewhere around there.

Okay, now let’s dig into a topic because I’ve got the time, and surely a lot is on my mind. The topic I’m thinking about today – I think for a second because I don’t have an immediate answer – is perhaps the topic of protesting. There are widespread protests going on around the world right now, especially here in America, on college campuses. People are protesting things I don’t really support, to be honest. But that’s not the point of this. The point of this is to say that I’ve never been in a protest. Never in my life. I have never found it compelling. And maybe that speaks to my privilege. I’d be curious – what have protests done or influenced in the history of the world? I’m not saying nothing. But the protests that I see often seem to be more about giving the people in the protest a voice, making them feel heard, but do they actually do anything? Do they actually lead to change, let alone enduring change? This does not feel likely to me.

I imagine it would feel nice, though. Almost tribal. To be in a protest, to look around and see people chanting around the same style and time as you. The cadence. It feels like you are part of something bigger than yourself. It gives you purpose. You feel alive. It’s not illegal. But it is weird. I mean, you get stares. That may feel nice for some. It feels like you are a rebel in ways. Being a part of a rebellion may be fascinating. I feel like some people would really be built for that.

What’s interesting to me is that throughout most of human history, there’s never really been prolonged periods of peace. There’s always been fighting. Or perhaps you just finished a battle, and an enemy is looking to come in and attack. That is how most people lived most of the time, with the constant fear and anxiety of someone coming after you and coming to kill your family, everyone you know, and all the buildings you built, and so on. That was the default. So it made us anxious as people, in ways. We always had to be on the lookout. That was the way of the world for so many years.

And now, we have this very prolonged period of peace, which is great in ways. I appreciate that. I am lucky to be born in this time period. But now we have relative spurts of conflict. I say there’s peace, but there’s not complete peace, of course. Some people still live in constant daily terror. Like there are billions of people around the world who suffer daily from bad things, bad people, and so on. I don’t want to diminish that for sure.

I just wonder if we look back and say, “Hey, the way to get progress – certainly protesting alone is not the answer.” I don’t think people would believe that nowadays. “Hey, we’re just going to protest, and that will lead to us solving all of these big problems for the world.” I don’t think people think that’s how the world is going to work. Remember, my eyes are still closed. I do think, though, that as part of the protest, people think and believe they are serving something bigger than themselves. I think people crave that in ways that I don’t fully understand. It must feel rewarding. Energizing. Feel like you are in a war of sorts. It gives people purpose. But we would not wish people were always in war, even if they’d always have purpose because, well, they would live less long. They would die sooner. But that purpose, that purpose really only comes in a few places. War. Religion. I mean, some sports and companies try to replicate this, but I imagine they are not the same. Unless you fool your brain into thinking they are. I think I have at times. My identity convinces itself that things are life or death. They aren’t. I mean, they really are not, not compared to actual war. I have never really felt that way about anything, that this was it. This was the moment I would prove myself. This was the moment I would stand up for what I believe in and put everything on the line for the future or the greater well-being of the people around me. That must be empowering, to be a rebel.

Everyone loves a rebel.

Except, well, most rebellions fail. I feel like most rebels don’t do anything. They are too reactive. They are cute. But emotional. They are ineffective. They are laughable at times.

That’s what some of these protests end up looking like. Meh. I mean, history may sometimes remember them. But the things that history really remembers, I feel like, are the endured excellence. The perhaps longer-term, more methodical approach. The people who actually get stuff done. Protesting is, in ways, complaining. Complaining can work. But you lose, too, because I think true purpose comes from doing, from actually succeeding in the mission.

Protests are weird, too. They tend to attract people who don’t actually know much about the protest. They are just allured by the idea of the mission, allured to get closer to things they don’t understand.


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