Prior to Christmas this year, I accompanied my sister and brother-in-law who already had the you-know-what, and my infant niece who already has you-know-what antibodies, to visit my aunt and uncle and cousins who already had the you-know-what, and then my grandparents and other aunts who already had the you-know-what. We came home on Christmas Eve and I spent actual Christmas at home alone and didn't get the package my mom sent that was supposed to arrive on the 16th until today (I assume it arrived yesterday, but I didn't get it until today when I went outside and nearly tripped over it, so I'm glad it didn't get stolen overnight), but that's okay. The highlight of my brief travel was playing Legos with my ten and six year old cousins. Ten year old said at one point, "Who wants to get drugged?" I thought I must have heard her wrong, but no, she showed me the Lego "drug shop" she built where Lego people could "drink drugs" that made them grow extra torsos. Afterward, they "smoked" out of Lego saxophones. I just - what?
Also, two year old cousin found my scriptures and highlighted them for me, so that was thoughtful.
In the spirit of Christmas, I want to think about the good things that have happened this year, gifts from God, if you will. For most people, this year started to go downhill in March or thereabouts, but for me, January 14 was the literal worst day of my life, so everything after that was just kind of whatever. The best things that happened to me specifically were that I got accepted into graduate school and offered a graduate instructor position that I accepted and enjoyed, and my sister had a baby. Those don't go on the official list because they don't mean anything to most people and my purpose here isn't to brag about how great my life is, but I wanted to mention them.
1. We got Covid-19 vaccines in record time. I attribute this in part to the global fasts called for earlier this year by President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, especially the second one. In the April 2020 General Conference, he said, "I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized." The only immediate discernible result of this fast was an outpouring of love and fellowship among people of different faiths all over the world, which was really great but not the purpose of the fast. Within a few months, though, multiple companies have used new technology to create multiple vaccines faster than any other vaccine in history has been created. Skeptics will say it's a coincidence; I say it's not. I guess that's why they call it "faith".
2. The extent of racism still in the United States is finally being recognized and addressed by white Americans. Of course, many white people are fighting this recognition tooth and nail, insistent on deluding themselves that racism ended after some laws were passed in the 1960s, or that whatever racism still exists will go away by itself if we refuse to acknowledge it, but they've already lost. The protests and riots going on are generally regarded as another reason why 2020 has been a dumpster fire, but they're actually a good thing in the long run. They're the inevitable and long overdue symptom of a disease that's been festering for centuries, they're a step closer to healing, and they're what this country deserves. I don't condone or support riots, but as Martin Luther King (who didn't condone or support them either) pointed out, "in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard." This unrest could have been prevented if people in power had addressed these problems a long time ago, but now they have no choice.
This seems to be a direct silver lining of the you-know-what. If people hadn't been stuck at home spending all day on social media, the necessary outrage probably wouldn't have materialized, just like it never did in the past.
3. Police officers are finally being put in their place. While I recognize the huge racial disparity in police abuse, I count it as a separate issue from racism because racism manifests in many other ways and black people aren't the only ones subjected to police abuse. Occasionally I see arguments about whether Derek Chauvin is actually racist or not. As far as I'm concerned, even if you could conclusively prove that his murder of George Floyd over $20 (while he himself owed 1092.65 times that amount in taxes) had nothing to do with skin color, it would do little to alter the fact that he's a fascist pig who should be strung up by his genitals and used as a piñata. I hope there's a special place in hell for everyone who's tried to rationalize his actions, blame his victim, or otherwise make him look like less of a fascist pig than he actually is.
I say "abuse" to cover all forms of police corruption and misbehavior, not just physical brutality. I'm very conscious of that distinction after I myself was subjected to police abuse earlier this year on January 14, and after I recovered sufficiently from the trauma to form coherent thoughts I lost all respect for law enforcement and determined that the next time some hemorrhoid in a police uniform comes into my apartment, I'm not going to be Mr. Polite and Deferential while he yells at me. But it could have been much worse for me. All Officer Nelson of the Logan Police Department did was verbally and psychologically abuse me for ten minutes even though he had already been told I was suicidal and already knew he was supposed to make me go to the hospital for being suicidal. He didn't kill me, he just tried to drive me to do it myself. He never explained what I had done wrong and he never accused me of or charged me with any crime. But I thought the police would leave me alone if I didn't break the law? Huh.
Before this experience I wasn't motivated to try to do anything about police abuse, even though I knew it existed and disproportionately affected black people, and after this experience I was too frightened to try to do anything about police abuse because police were above the law, which of course is why Officer Nelson dared to treat me the way he did in the first place. I regret that I didn't get involved with the cause until everyone else did, but I'm determined to keep it going even if everyone else forgets. There is still much to be done until police officers are consistently and immediately held accountable for wrongdoing instead of having their fellow officers, departments, and unions ignore it or actively cover it up. If they abuse a civilian at any time, even if the civilian did something wrong once, they should be fired and, if necessary, arrested, full stop. Not reassigned to administrative duties, not put on paid leave a.k.a. vacation, not given a letter telling them not to do it again even though they've already done it seventeen times. Until that happens, people will continue to hate the police for damn good reason.
Bullies like Officer Nelson aren't the whole extent of the problem, either. While he tried to play bad cop good cop by himself, he was accompanied by another officer who seemed nice enough but said literally three sentences the whole time and did nothing to justify his presence there. He didn't stand up for me and he didn't ask his fellow cop to stop being a dickhole. It reminds me of this incident that happened in May but was just recently exposed, where a police sergeant in Boston bragged to another cop about running over BLM protesters in an unmarked police car, and didn't realize the other cop's body camera was on. Did the other cop report him? No, don't be ridiculous. The other cop warned him that his body camera was on, which tells you everything you need to know about law enforcement in this country, and the sergeant pretended he already knew that but immediately walked back his comments. Now that the footage has been made public, this piece of excrement has been placed on leave pending investigation, even though his comments alone are more than damning enough that he should be fired on the spot, and the only question is whether he should also be arrested for actually running protesters over.
Oh, and every time I see that picture of former police officer Brett Hankison with that insufferable smile on his face, I want to wipe it off with a brick.
Again, a silver lining of the you-know-what, for the same reasons. It's not like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were even close to being the first black people murdered by American police officers.
4. Donald Trump was not re-elected president of the United States. I know many disagree with me on this, though those people probably don't read my blog very much, but I strongly believe that for obvious reasons he will be remembered as at least the second-worst president in American history (it's kind of hard to top Andrew "Trail of Tears" Jackson). Again, not saying Biden is anything great, but at least he'll make the United States a bit less of a global embarrassment for the next four years, or however long he's in office before Harris assassinates him. At least he only sniffs women's hair instead of bragging about grabbing them by the pussy. At least he didn't unironically warn his followers that his political opponent "will listen to the scientists". At least come January, refugees in desperate need will no longer be banned from this country that once claimed to be a haven for "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore."
I think this is a silver lining of the you-know-what too. As much as I hate to say it, Trump still has enough support that he very well might have been re-elected if not for his criminally negligent mishandling of and misinformation regarding what he called a "hoax", which put God knows how many preventable American deaths on his hands.
5. Disney announced a bunch of new Star Wars TV shows. Given that the most mediocre episode of "The Mandalorian" easily kicks the pants off any Disney Star Wars movie except for "Rogue One", and given that I've long been turning to fan films to get my fix because there isn't enough official audiovisual Star Wars content, I'm thrilled. Of particular interest to me is the show that will star Ahsoka Tano. In a galaxy with thousands of sapient races, it's pretty annoying that almost everything of importance seems to be done by humans, and it's about frigging time someone else got to be the lead in a movie or show. Ahsoka is an awesome character and more than deserving of the honor. I admit that when I first saw her in the animated "The Clone Wars" movie I thought she was a stupid character, but I've repented of that. I actually prefer her more flawed and relatable teenage version but her stoic warrior adult version is cool too. She was one of the most-requested candidates for one of the anthology spinoff films that got canceled after "Solo" flopped, and hopefully her success in leading this series will disprove once and for all the fear of studio executives that "aliens alienate people".
Speaking of "Solo", there's another announced series about Lando Calrissian, which could be interesting as long as it avoids everything that was wrong with "Solo". As you may be aware, when that movie came out in 2018, this character established thirty-eight years earlier was retconned to be pansexual. In the movie, he acts flirty toward Han, and his robot sidekick makes a couple of innuendos and claims he's in love with her, but this is played as a joke until she dies and he's all distraught and it's just weird. Disney exercised restraint with his sexuality, though, just like they did with the brief lesbian kiss between two nobody characters in "The Rise of Skywalker" that could easily be edited out of screenings in more conservative countries. Yet the door is open. The actor who played him, Donald Glover, said in an interview, "How can you not be pansexual in space? There's so many things to have sex with. I'm serious. It just didn't seem that weird to me. You're in space; the door's open." Yes, Donald, you nailed it, no pun intended. That is what Star Wars is all about. So right now, the title of his series is just "Lando", but that's boring and I have a much better proposal: "Star Whores". Jussayin.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.