Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Do you even know how to believe in something enough that you’d die for it? Better yet, kill for it? I mean, we sometimes say that. I never have, because I know that I would never mean it.

I have no idea how to have that kind of commitment. I mean, I know that I have the capacity for it. The way that I know I have the capacity for it is because of soldiers.

I have huge respect for soldiers in general. Not specifically because they’ve been taught how to live and to die and sometimes kill because of their commitment to whatever it is. Whatever it is, and I’m sure it’s slightly different for every soldier, is something that I think might be in everyone. There are countries that have mandatory military service, which means that a hundred percent of the populations of those countries at least need to ask themselves whether they’re willing to fight and possibly die for…whatever it is. Something.

I don’t talk a lot on social media. Not very much. I do jabber. I do share a lot of one-liners. I do try to inject a little wit — a little humor — and maybe sometimes a little imagination into the perpetual fuzz of conversation which is the internet.

That said, I rarely Talk. I rarely engage with the in subjects. I rarely engage with subjects of politics or social importance or controversy. I don’t talk very much about gender equality or racial equality or anything. There are a lot of commentators who do, and good on them.

I choose not to.

I’ve always had a good understanding why I don’t. On an emotional level, anyway, although I’ve not yet known how to articulate my reasons.

I have a calmness about my reasons for essentially sitting back and listening, even when sometimes the general attitude seems to condemn an attitude of passivity.

I mean, I have opinions. I have faith and strong beliefs, and I have sixteen gallons of wit in my ten gallon hat. It’s been remarked on before. In a way, the inter-kittengif-web is the ideal platform for somebody like me to have an impact on the world. Somebody like me being somebody with a better knack for putting into words what some wot not than I have a knack for anything else, if that makes sense. I mean, the most unexpected comment I’ve received recently was, “You know…I’ve often thought that, but I had no idea how to say it.” I never saw that one coming, but I guess I can dig it.

Is it a compliment? I guess it’s a compliment. I guess I’ll take it as a compliment.

Because I have this skill, and because in a sense it’s my best skill and my only real skill, I can see why it would be a sensible decision if I chose to find complex issues and give them accessible, quotable words, so that people can more easily have their own conversations.

And I do that to a degree. I write about faith and I write about imagination and I write about navel-gazing. I feel rather proud of my work in those areas, even if it’s all a bit gnomic the way that I say things.

What I don’t do — and I sometimes argue myself to an uncomfortable state of thinking the phrase “I might ought to do that” — what I don’t do is take on issues like the distance we have traveled on gender equality, and why don’t we talk about that? Or the veering into self-indulgence of most individuals that’s encouraging emotional bullying on an endemic scale and how we’re turning into a species in a perpetual psychotic break, and why don’t we talk about that? Or the hazards of over-politicizing important terms like “diversity” and why don’t we talk about THAT?

I don’t take on those subjects. I shy away from them.

I’ve always known that my reason for avoiding them rose from a general sense that the internet is not the place, I think, to “take them on.” Not in the way that I know how. Not by just…talking about them, over here where I’m insulated by distance. I’ve always understood that what I can do is speak to the underlying issue of the human condition. Which is two-fold, I think: problems with self-awareness being one, and problems with empathy being the other. I believe that speaking to those two issues will help with everything else, because if I know myself first, and then I decide to actually listen to people around me, then with a little time everything else gets fixed. That’s what I believe.

Which is vague. I am king of being vague while conjuring up definite feelings. It’s my hobby.

I know I believe that I should know myself and learn to listen and then the other problems become fixable, but that doesn’t explain why I don’t want to talk on the internet. It doesn’t give me a good explanation for why it doesn’t make sense to me to argue about Big Issues on the internet. It doesn’t explain to me why I feel like it’s not my job.

I just listened to a podcast about the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

Thank you, history people, for having interesting lives, and offering up examples that help us to interpret our own lives.

Now I think that I have a better idea about how to explain why I don’t see value in taking on Big Issues on the internet.

It has to do with whether or not I’m willing to die for the Big Issues.

I don’t know if I’m willing to die for them. I don’t know if I’m willing to kill for them. I don’t know that about myself.

What I do know is that someone has already died for almost every single one of the Big Issues. Every single one of the hot ticket items that the internet has adopted as their darlings for argument and trolling and all the favorite activities of the internet, with the possible exception of climate change — and I maybe just haven’t heard about it — all the hot ticket items have martyrs who have already died for them. Or already killed for them.

Some may have been willing martyrs. Some may not have been. Point is, that part of the conversation has already been had, as far as I’m concerned.

People have died for them, and the seriousness of the issues has been made clear. To my satisfaction, anyway.

When I begin to think to myself that maybe I’ll hop into one of these hot topics, render my two cents to the masses and then step out again, I get an overwhelming sense of nervousness.

I have realized why: because I have realized that my attempt to gain a little attention by inserting myself into certain conversations, by just joining the argument for the hell of it, is basically taking a shit on the sacrifices of the martyrs of that cause.

The internet is pretty much fueled by impotent rage. Have you noticed? I have. We’re all these little Roman candles, going off like squibs in the dark, eager for our five minutes in the show. I know that I am.

Maybe I’m a coward. I don’t know. Maybe what I’m admitting to here is that I’m frightened of the idea of speaking up because I’m frightened of the idea of getting tarred and feathered. It’s easy to tell the internet things that would have gotten you tarred and feathered in the days of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. And maybe I’m a coward for choosing not to even state my position on things that matter.

I don’t know. I’ll have to face that wall when I’m put up against it.

I sometimes wonder how far people would be willing to go to back up the stupid shit we like to fill the internet with. I don’t know how many people truly believe in everything they say on the internet.

I don’t know how many of us hold with real conviction to the beliefs we espouse. If every one of us trolls who lurk here knew that we might be asked to die for them, the internet would be a much different place.

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