But there are people literally doing this work on a daily basis. Places like www.democracynow.org strive to provide context and accurate ethical information on a daily basis. I'm very grateful to my professor, John Brumfield for telling me about Amy Goodman and the team at Democracy now when I took a course with him years ago. It's important to stay informed. I love to fuck around, I play video games, I go out dancing, look at dozens of cute animal pictures, and troll my friends with silly gifs of people doing insane shit. But I also take a few minutes or an hour in my day to read what is happening, and look at it with a critical eye. I don't trust news organizations that I can't find anything to back it up on, and if something important is happening I try and find multiple sources and apply my own critical thinking to get a coherent picture of what is going on.
Propaganda isn't hard. It would take you a days reading to get through an introductory book that is a fun and simple read to start recognizing the handful of common tactics that people present information to you in an incomplete way to try and make you believe it. It happens nonstop, I bought Cheetos today at a grocery store because there was a sale on an endcap. That's propaganda, the Gettysburg Address is propaganda. Any speech a politician ever gives you is probably propaganda. And anything that is a press release and isn't from a strictly academic institution (and probably even then) is propaganda. That doesn't mean it's nothing but lies, it means that everyone can't always be responsible for presenting a complete picture of the context around each piece of information.
I tear up watching pretty much any moment designed to be sappy in entertainment, I get indignant when fiction pushes me to that response, but what riles my emotions just about the highest are the kinds of important things being pushed behind my back and your back. I'm not in the worst place on earth, I have a lot of debt from student loans, to have gone through a very high caliber university, I live in a bad situation for another week, and I wish I had health coverage, or a safety net in case something terrible happens. But I have a tremendously supportive wife, I have a loving family on both sides that would bend over backwards to make sure I personally would not be ruined when something happened, and that is a tremendous privilege. I will never want for a book, comic, game, or movie that features a character that looks like me, came from a background like mine, or deals with the kind of problems I've had to deal with.
Not everyone has that privilege, and that upsets me. We fight in a war as a nation on foreign soil with robots that bomb mostly what they're aimed at, with some major civilian casualties, when our soldiers come back to US soil, they frequently don't have homes to come back to, jobs to work, or the care they need to deal with lost limbs, major psychological traumas, and sacrifices they will live with their whole lives. When women serve in the military the likelihood that they will be sexually assaulted or raped by the men they are serving with is drastically higher than if they remained civilians, just as the likelihood that those responsible will suffer a meaningful consequence is dramatically lower. Our prisons fill with nonviolent offenders for petty drug crimes that we push as major offenses as we turn over control of these prisons to for profit organizations and incarcerate our own citizens at a far higher rate than comparable nations, and punish those who come from a less economically privileged background. We have tell the world that Democracy is the most important thing to us, and the people we get to choose from to run the country tear at each other for points instead of working together to function and achieve great things. Money is not speech, and when you see a news agency ask what Occupiers are protesting, this is what we are protesting. I voted for Obama, and will again in 2012, he's not the president I could have wished for, his administrations policies toward intellectual property and speech leave me with much to be desired. He's also much more of a Centrist than I hoped for, he's much more interested in trying to bridge a gap between ideologies where one side says "How much more do I need to compromise before you'll budge?" and the other side says "When you've run out of concessions I'll see if that's enough." Anyone that expects you to believe there is parity and balance in this obstinate behavior is trying to get you to feel resigned to a belief that the system is beyond fixing, and that your voice does not matter. It does, and whether or not I agree with another Occupier that weed should be legal, or that every possible use of GMO foods is immoral, or that Ron Paul is a great thing for America, I agree with them on one core thing. It is vital that everyone be heard. That Citizen's United not continue to allow Koch Brothers and other billionares to command more representation in government than any other voter. That Glass-Stegal be reinstated so that organization that you trust with your money isn't trying to sell you what is best for their money instead of your money. And that when the Tea Party wants to go out and protest that they do not believe in abortion or hate having a Black President, that they can. And that when my friends who were told the only way we would be anything is to spend our lives and borrow heavily from our futures with the only non-discharagable lending tool want to stand up and ask where our jobs are, where the opportunities that taking all the right steps were supposed to open up for us went. When that happens, they should have a voice too.
So we've had politicians, labor movements, civil rights movements, and protestors over the years that I am so grateful for. People have laid down lives, risked their jobs, themselves, their ability to support their families, all to maintain our freedoms, and earn us things like weekends, a now seemingly mythical 40 hour work week, and time with our families, and wages that let us live without a constant worry about how we'll feed our families, that sometimes let us actually do preventative care to ourselves, our means of transport, etc. That afford us the opportunity to build a world better than the one we were given. I am an environmentalist, someone who demands social equality in spaces where I can control that, and strives for it in larger spaces where I cannot, a feminist, a protester, and on occasion an Occupier. I will not stand by as the things I value are trampled by money, subverted behind closed doors, and lied about to anyone I can provide more accurate information and context to. I appreciate deeply that many of you actually glance at the deluge of images and politics I throw up on here, and I know a lot of it paints a picture about what I've been doing online and in life, but I wanted to take a few minutes to express personally what and why I do these things. I will pick fights with my family about politics, and with friends, because I love them, and I know they are good people who want to make the world a better place too.
Disney animation has a concept, a verb really, of plussing things. The idea is that when you're part of an art pipeline, and a layout artist for example sketches something up and hands it off to a background painter, as the background painter not only do you do justice to the sketch, but using your own ingenuity and taste you add another layer of quality and value to it. Then the next person that touches it does that too, all the way down the line til it's a great movie they can be proud to release. Make the time to plus the things that matter in your life. Contact your representatives and ask that they make sure to represent you as their constituents and if they don't, at the next opportunity elect someone that will. If you see something wrong happening, call it out, and try and stop it. Think, critically about what your enjoy, what you do, what you are told and what you read. Then once you have, take action. Thinking through the picture gets you into the game, it's what you do once you're there that makes you a winner.