Talking with a foreign friend recently, she found it odd that so many Americans have resorted to believing in some kind of alternate reality. I can't explain it, and I didn't try to. But it got me to thinking... so many of the things in the reality that they despise are actually great.
Many of the core things the deniers want to believe, or their beliefs on top of that, involve a great many things that probably don't affect them one way or another, which is some of the reason that they're so frustrating. But think about how great it is that...
- We have the technology to fend off climate change, and it represents huge economic opportunity. The last decade has been surprising with the massive decline in cost for renewable energy and exponential growth of sustainable transportation. When we bought our first EV in 2014, they accounted for less than a half-percent of sales globally. Now we're around 9%.
- Science has been doing amazing things. Vaccines for a deadly pandemic were developed in less than a year. Rockets can land upright and be reused. We carry super computers around connected to all of the world's information (should we choose to think critically and use it). We can watch whatever TV we want, when we want, anywhere.
- We have a long way to go, but diversity is taking hold in polite society. When I was in college, in most places you couldn't be LGBTQ and your authentic self. It still carries risk, but it's not like it was. Same sex marriage is legal. Racial bias still permeates our culture, and pretending slavery didn't happen isn't helping, but we've come a long way since the 70's. Women, in most of the world not the US, are legally equal.
- Immigrants still fuel economic growth and broader prosperity. This has been researched to death. Some of the greatest American countries are led by immigrants.
- Access is not equal, and the cost of healthcare is insane, but medicine is helping us be healthier and live longer than ever. We can replace body parts. Some cancers have vaccines. We can sometimes get treatment remotely without leaving the house.
- The economy is actually pretty great. The stock market decline won't last forever (buy now!), but unemployment is insanely low and wages are up. This causes the side effect of inflation, but the fundamentals are solid.
The news isn't good lately, and there is a segment who wants to go back to some fictional time where things are better. But there's a lot of things now that are pretty great. People are energized to make it better. The reality deniers are worried that immigrants, people of color, trans people, abortion recipients, history, books and countless other things are going to make their lives worse, but none of those people or things are going to materially change their outcomes or lives in any way. They're just fearful people who look for the next bogeyman. But grounded reality is much better than that. If they think they're being left behind, that's by their choice.
I'm more resolved than ever to see to it that equality is the basis of our society. That doesn't mean we have to be communists or throw away capitalism or any of the stupid shit that some believe, it just means that you and I, regardless of our demographic descriptors, should have equal standing in our world. That hardly seems like a big ask.