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Last Man Left – Twilight Zone Writing Prompt

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A short story by Stan Collins posted to Reddit’s r/WritingPrompts

[WP] You’re going about your daily business and decide to check reddit, when suddenly you hear the voice of Rod Serling: “Here we see an average person, taking a short break from the turmoil of modern life. But that break is about to get a lot longer with a detour… to the twilight zone.”

“I must be going crazy,” he thought. He had been in that room for some time now, months actually. What started as an annoying two week quarantine had turned into a rather pleasant 10 week stint in solitary confinement. He worked from home and had food delivered to his door daily. He made no phone calls and sent no texts; in fact, he hadn’t bothered to even open any of the countless messages that had been sent to him since locking himself away from the world. He found peace in this life of seclusion; and after a while, he’d gotten so lost in his world that he nearly forgot that other people existed. So, it wasn’t out of the question that he had actually gone mad and was now hallucinating.

“Here we see an average person, taking a short break from the turmoil of modern life. But that break is about to get a lot longer with a detour… to the twilight zone.”

The television was off, as was the sound on his laptop as he explored Reddit alone, which meant that the eerily familiar voice that he’d just heard must have just been in his head. There was no other explanation; and so he went about wasting time online as usual. Unaware of how much time had passed, he eventually took to his phone to order food but was promptly frozen in shock. With a gasp, he immediately dropped the phone and wildly scanned his room in terror. 

His heart pounded and he struggled to contain his breathing as he slowly reached down for the phone in hopes of finding that he had severely overreacted. To his dismay, on the now broken screen was what appeared to be a live stream of himself but from the vantage point of someone else. He watched an image of himself stand up as he did, and he turned to face the apparent direction of the hidden camera only to watch the angle change before his eyes. 

He poured through his mind for possible explanations and began to panic when he could come up with nothing. He tried restarting his phone but to no avail. For the first time in forever, he thought to contact someone, but could think of no way to explain the situation without sounding crazy; not that he would be able to call anyone anyway with his phone stuck on his own terrified actions. He watched himself pace back and forth, hand on chin and deep in thought. Why was this happening? Who was watching; and for what purpose? Was he about to get murdered red room-style for the viewing pleasure of sick dark web goers?

This was too much for him to handle. He no longer desired food or random Reddit posts; he wanted only to end this nightmare. Perhaps it was finally time to leave the room; surely the cameras would be unable to follow him out into the world. The idea of rejoining society after all this time made him a bit uneasy but what other choice did he have? Bracing himself, he opened the door and took his first step outside.

He was pleased to see the world as he’d remembered it. Birds chirped and squirrels darted across lawns under low hanging branches; and for a moment, all was right in the world. That is, until he looked down at his partially shattered screen to witness his own reaction in real time. His knees went weak and he stumbled forward into a frantic jog. Aimlessly, he ran down the street in hopes of coming across another human but there didn’t seem to be anyone anywhere. He ran and ran until he came to the gas station around the corner. He yanked the door open and burst into the store in one fluid motion but quickly found that he was the only person there. 

Thoroughly confused, he began to yell out to nobody at all. “Help! I don’t know what’s happening! Someone is watching me! I’m all alone.” He began to weep to himself as he stepped back outside. There was no sign of human life anywhere. There were no cars on the road, no planes in the sky, and no artificial sounds of any sort. He walked for hours in no particular direction and with no destination. From time to time, he would look down at his phone to see one confused and lonely figure gradually losing hope and energy. Eventually, he began to long for the very thing he’d been avoiding for months, communication with others. He became beside himself and fell to the ground in defeat. 

For a while, he wept as he watched himself wither away through the broken images of a dying man starved of human interaction. His thoughts went dark as he stared at the screen and his mind began to search for ways to end this misery. He felt defeated and in a moment of hopelessness, he began to look around for a sharp object. He found no such object, but he did come across a discarded newspaper with a headline that managed to catch his eye. 

“Evacuate Immediately!” He blinked his tired, damp eyes and focused on the words before him. “The virus that has plagued our quaint town has proven itself to be too dangerous and the decision to halt this devastating plague has been made. All residents are to evacuate the area and head to the nearest delousing station immediately before the destruction of the city. Be sure to contact your friends and family to ensure their safe departure. This is not a test.”

Suddenly, he wished that he had read the plethora of messages that had come into his phone over the weeks leading up to this point. He had ignored everyone and would now surely face an untimely demise as he was seemingly the last person present in a doomed town. Fueled by an unexpected, newfound confidence and longing to live, he picked himself up and continued his run. This time, however, he did have a destination in mind. He headed for the outskirts of town. He was unaware of the current date and had failed to remember the printed time of destruction in the left-behind newspaper but he ran as if the end was near. 

At every upswing of his right arm, he caught a glimpse of himself running desperately for safety on the screen of the phone that he clutched in his shaky, sweaty palm until he saw something that stopped him dead in his tracks. The screen had turned a blinding bright white before a brief moment of darkness and then the zoomed out image of a mushroom cloud became visible. He had only a second or two to comprehend the image before experiencing the extraordinary force that consumed his body and turned his existence to darkness.

….

When he regained consciousness, he found himself sitting in his chair, in front of his computer screen, and in the room that he had come to know as the entirety of his world. After a moment of shock, he found his phone and brought it to his face. There were 37 missed calls and well over 50 unread texts. Still reeling from what he now assumed to be a terrible dream, he sat and stared at the notifications on his phone. For several minutes, he sat frozen in place contemplating the events of the apparent dream that he’d just experienced. He remembered the state of terror and the intense feeling of loneliness that had just tortured him. 

As he sat and stared at his unscathed screen, he received a message. “Hey man, where are you? Call me back, it’s urgent,” read the text. He knew that he should probably respond. The potential downside of shutting off the world had become abundantly clear to him after the dream he’d just experienced. The intended lesson to be learned was not lost on him, and he decided to change his ways. From now on, he would be a better person. He decided that every incoming message from now on would be read and responded to. You never know.

He was now aware of how important human interaction is; afterall, he’d nearly driven himself to self-destruction from the lack of it. With this in mind, he moved to call the most recent person to reach out; but just as he was about to touch the space on the screen that would initiate the call, he decided to wait. “What’s a few more minutes?” he thought as he replaced the phone on the desk and refreshed Reddit. 

Unaware of how much time had passed, he eventually took to his phone to order food but was promptly frozen in shock…

His Faith In Dreams – Poem

Reading Time: < 1 minute

5/1/17

My dear, you clearly haven’t seen
the terrors that make up my dreams
I promised me I’d never try again,

We know exactly what takes place
When so called friends get their say
If everything is doomed, then why begin,

The deed is done but scars remain
The love, the sex, the bars, the pain
It taught me things but surely took its toll,

And over time, I’ve seen the change
In reflections of my face
I’m here in mind and body but not soul,

So what’s the point of starting new
When getting out is hard to do
We either last forever or we don’t,

And in the case of the latter
Nothing but our feelings matter
We could avoid the wreckage but we won’t,

So I’ll go back out on the chance
That I was wrong and this could last
And everything was pure, and good, and true,

I hope to see the best of me
And every night when I’m to sleep that
Nightmares be replaced with dreams of you.

The Unlikely Racists – A Short Story With Lasting Implications

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The Unlikely Racists

A Short Story With Lasting Implications

Nothing was familiar, the world had gone mad, and Don was starting his life over in a brand new location. He was alone, new to the area, and eager to find a social group to associate with. The night had been flowing well thus far as he met and conversed with friendly strangers over craft brews one warm Wednesday evening in Old Town. Up to this point, conversation remained casual and he had high hopes of forging friendships with the enthusiastic strangers around him. The group wasn’t completely comfortable with him yet, but he had a feeling his approval rating was still trending upwards; that is, until that one cancerous topic came up. It was clear to Don how the group expected him to respond in this situation; and yet, he found it extremely difficult to justify giving the desired answer to their leading question. 

In regards to the horrific catastrophe that had recently taken over the news cycle, an injustice so grand as to ignite the passions of millions of people across the country, there was no doubt that they were living in the aftermath of what would surely become a historic moment in time. Very few details from the case had been revealed at this point; nonetheless, there was a collective sense of grief surrounding this terrible tragedy. On the surface, the case seemed open and shut; finally an injustice that we could all get behind. The perpetrator of this most disgusting assault on humanity was in custody; but the act itself was so egregious that vast groups of citizens were compelled to take to the streets (and to Facebook) in protest.

In the beginning, everyone was indeed in agreement; this was undoubtedly a tragic and unfair event. No one wants to see extreme acts of unjust violence against anyone; especially if that act is between a figure of authority and a helpless minority. And so, together the country grieved and commented on the blatant cruelty and fundamentally wrong actions of a trusted officer of the law against an innocent-until-proven-guilty citizen. In that moment, there was no left or right; the country was in sync.

However, it wasn’t long before feelings began to change for many following the aftermath of this historic moment. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of people that had formed opinions on this ordeal seemed to fall into one of three categories. Everyone was upset; but some people were generally unaffected, “It’s a tragedy, but bad things happen. Such is life..” 

Others saw this horrific event as evidence that the world in which we live is plagued with racism and a blatant disregard for the lives and livelihoods of black people. This second group, made up of people of all races, had become convinced that the system is (and always has been) rigged for the benefit of white people and to the detriment of blacks. From their point of view, the oppression of black people in modern times is a travesty so significant that the only solution is to overthrow the entire system, and by any means necessary. 

The third group of people came to be as a result of the actions of the second group. This mostly silent, but steadily growing majority of people were of the opinion that the whole situation had been blown out of proportion. They noticed that violence and chaos now filled the streets of major cities across the country in the name of ending racist police brutality. Some even pointed out the fact that the numbers didn’t exactly support the cause; however, acknowledgment of such facts were met with extreme hostility from those in the second group. Anyone that doubted the intentions of the Black Lives Matter movement was deemed a racist, even if they were themselves, black. 

“So, what do you think about the BLM movement? Exciting times right? Our generation will go down in history as one that fought for change and succeeded.” 

Don knew what he was supposed to say; he’d already heard the points of view from all three perspectives. In fact, when this all started, he was a member of the first group. It’s always a tragedy when an innocent person is killed, but that is the way of the world. In the days following the event, he began seeing and hearing more and more increasingly emotional responses from those who had once feared for their lives in similar situations; he couldn’t help but feel sympathy for them. Eventually, as his interest in the topic heightened, he began to do his own research and subsequently became torn as a result of his findings. The things he began to see frustrated him immensely. 

The very same passionate supporters of Black Lives Matter that preached equality and accused the president of dividing the country seemed to be the ones that were actually leading the division. Don’s Facebook timeline was filled with matter-of-fact style posts suggesting that any ideas that differed from those of the BLM movement were inherently racist. These posts served as bait, daring anyone to disagree; and the unfortunate few that did so were attacked viciously. Screenshots of comments taken out of context, as well as, the identities of those commenters,  were shared widely and served as a warning to others who dared question the actions or motives of the movement. 

Don had seen what happens to people that refuse to tow the line and he wanted no part in that. Conversely, he also found it hard to express support for the well-intentioned group of misguided activists. It’s one thing to get behind a movement that on the surface, sounds like a great and virtuous cause if you are unaware of its faults. However, it’s another thing entirely to perpetuate ideas that you know to be invalid. 

Searching his mind for an adequate response, Don decided on, “I definitely support the idea that something should be done about the injustices of the world; but I can’t say that I completely agree with everything that BLM stands for.” He was met with stark silence and blank stares from those around him. 

“Are you saying that you don’t believe that black lives matter?”

Don was blown away by the question; of course he wasn’t suggesting that the lives of black people didn’t matter! It was at that moment that he realized that the genius behind this campaign was a matter of semantics. The name Black Lives Matter is a double entendre, serving as both the name of the movement, and also a general statement that no decent person would ever disagree with. In reality, the phrase “black lives matter” is equivalent to saying something like, “the sky is blue.” No reasonable person would actually disagree with such an idea, which makes the act of saying it pointless. Telling someone that “black lives matter” suggests that you think the person doesn’t already believe that statement. It is down this path of faulty reasoning that some people come to the conclusion that those who don’t support Black Lives Matter must be racist. 

“I’m not saying that at all. Obviously everyone’s life matters, I’m just saying…” 

Don had unwittingly stepped on a landmine and was cut off abruptly. “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter!” A chorus of agreement rang out amongst the group as the once-pleasant conversation began to turn hostile. Don then paused for a moment to think of a way out of the hole he was digging himself. Should he risk further agitating the group by explaining his point of view? Or, would it be better to simply agree and move on? The latter option would certainly be easier, but would it be right?

Don wanted desperately to explain his reasoning, to show footage of the riots, and to highlight the full extent of the resulting carnage. He wanted to share with the group the actual number of people who had been shot and killed at protests, the numerous buildings in cities across the country that had been raised to the ground, the statues of abolitionists, and freed slaves, and even of Jesus that had been torn down and defaced. He wanted to explain the point of view of those who stood in opposition of BLM; to show that the vast majority of people in this country were sympathetic to the cause, but simply disagreed with the group’s actions. He wanted to illustrate the actual source of the country’s division, and even suggest ways to remedy the situation; but instead he stayed quiet.

“Maybe, you guys are right,” he acquiesced. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” The group reluctantly accepted his weak apology but he feared the damage had already been done.

“That’s good to hear. As we all know, black people are being oppressed by a systematically racist country; and if we don’t stand together and fight, then we may very well end up as slaves once again.”

Don immediately regretted his decision to comply. Taking up for a radical group that many still saw as virtuous was one thing; but he wasn’t sure if he could justify expanding that idea to the point of saying that black people in general were being oppressed in modern day America. Afterall, the previous president was black. Every kid of every race in this country has to go to school; and even black people with mediocre grades are capable of getting scholarships and grants to colleges solely based on the color of their skin. Even as a black guy that benefited from this particular leg up on his white friends, Don found this practice unfair in a society that prided itself on racial equality. 

There was a time when black people were indeed held back. Roughly 80 years ago, people did indeed rise up to fight and protest these injustices; the result of which was equal rights for all races. How then, could Don sit here and pretend that we still lived in a world where an entire race of people was being prevented from succeeding in life because their skin happened to be dark? On some level, Don was actually offended by the idea. Did these people honestly think that this country, the United States of America, was just filled with racist white people that wished only to enslave blacks? Surely, they weren’t suggesting that we were still living in a time where black people were being prevented from succeeding in life because of racism. Don could hold his tongue no longer. 

Whoa, wait a second. Are you saying you all believe that black people are being oppressed right now in America?”

The group took his genuine question for a joke and burst into laughter that lasted until they noticed that Don wasn’t laughing with them. The tone of the conversation grew serious and the leader of the group led the ensuing fit of outrage with a semi-rhetorical question. “You’re kidding right?”

Don sat silently, unsure of his next move until he was presented a new question from the group. Tensions were rising and multiple pairs of piercing enraged eyes proceeded to plague him.

“You don’t think that racism still exists?”

Don took a moment to digest the question before forming a response. This was no longer a friendly exchange between friends and strangers; the stakes had risen significantly. “Sure, racism still exists; but honestly, is it really that big of a deal?” 

The audible gasps of the group were loud enough to halt the conversations of every other table in the vicinity. Every astonished face was wide-eyed and speechless as the shocked silence prompted him to continue. “I mean, obviously there are still racist people in the country; but does the fact that some people think of their race as being better than others really affect the individual lives of any given black person? It’s obviously illegal to kill anyone of any race. Colleges and businesses alike are all strictly forbidden from discriminating against applicants because of race. To my knowledge, the libraries of every city in America are open to people of all colors; and even if that wasn’t the case, most people have a computer in their pocket capable of bringing forth the knowledge necessary to learn nearly any profession.”

An intense, collective air of outrage filled the room and Don was the source of the anger. So much for making friends, he’d be lucky to make it out of the bar alive. However, he wanted to conclude with a question that might spark the interest of those who opposed his ideology. 

“Is it possible that the issue isn’t actually one of race, but rather one of social class? The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of crime committed in this country happens in inner-cities, and by minorities. The “virtuous ones” hear this and suggest that the stats must be rigged, or that this is so because of racist cops; but, is it possible that the information from the most official of sources is correct? If it is indeed the case that black people tend to commit a disproportionate amount of crime in this country, this would certainly be a disappointing fact, but perhaps there is still a solution.

What if the focus wasn’t on black and white, but rather, rich and poor? And what if we didn’t look at this situation as one of good versus evil, but rather, the fortunate and the unlucky? What if the solution was as simple as encouraging those born in seemingly hopeless situations to work harder? Perhaps the solution is as simple as that. What if the intense passion and drive to fight for a worthy cause was focused on enabling the less-fortunate to succeed rather than blaming the innocent? 

There is a group of people that are adamant that racism doesn’t exist. There is a group of people that are certain that black people are being oppressed, and there is a group of people that don’t even consider this to be a topic worth exploring in the chaos of today’s times. What couldn’t we achieve if we all just came together?”

The room fell silent and the group stared at Don in disbelief. The entirety of the bar was quiet as every patron awaited the reaction of the initial group. Several moments passed before the leader of the group stepped in. He peered deeply into Don’s wavering eyes for a while as he took in the words that had brought the bar to a halt. Eventually, a smirk formed on the face of the leader as he looked around at the anxious members of the popular group at the bar. “In all my years, I never thought I’d see the day that I would be proven wrong.” A dozen pairs of eyebrows rose at this statement. 

“Kanye West isn’t the worst coon in the country, this fucking guy is!” The group exploded in laughter, as did many of the surrounding tables. Don hung his head in shame and exited the bar alone and without any new popular friends, another victim of the mob.

Thoughts on Work, Goals, and Perspective

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When I was in grade school, the general idea as I understood it, was that we were to do well in school so that we could get into a good college, so that we could get a good job and make a lot of money and then it would be happily ever after. At the time, this all made perfect sense; even  well into college it seemed like this path was the most efficient way to achieve happiness in life, and so I stayed the course. 

Reflecting on this idea today after nearly a decade of real life experience since school, I’ve developed a fundamentally different view of the world. While appreciative of all the work experience I’ve accumulated thus far, I have found that we actually had it all wrong. In the ideal scenario in which my early years were leading up to, the end goal of early schooling and college was to find a good job in order to make a lot of money; however, I now realize that the goal shouldn’t have been money, but rather freedom. 

Why do you go to work everyday? I’ve asked this question many times towards the end of long drunken nights on the town and almost universally, the response that I’m given is something along the lines of, “to make money,” or “to pay rent,” or “because I have to, we all do. It’s a part of life.” I was initially amazed at how many times I received some variation of this answer, but now I think that this is just how the average person views the subject. 

“There are some things that we must do that are unpleasant, but that’s life.”

Well, I call bullshit on that. From my point of view, there is nothing in this world that I cannot do, get, or achieve. We live in the age of information; a world in which all of the answers to every question are at our fingers. The phones in each of our pockets are connected to the vast collective knowledge that mankind has accumulated thus far in history. If there is a skill that I want to learn and master in order to achieve some goal in my life, the simple solution is to research and learn it. For this reason, I find the idea of going to a job that I don’t care for because, “I have to,” to be absurd.

In recent years, I’ve replaced the crushing anxiety associated with being in my 20’s with a sense of peace. I’ve come to value my free time over money. When there are things that I want that I cannot afford, I simply find a way to make more money. If that requires learning a new skill, then I put in the time to research and learn that new skill. 

I’m always open to new opportunities, but there are only three reasons that I will work for someone else. 

  1. It is an industry or job that I’m already passionate about.
  2. There is just a shit-ton of money to be made.
  3. There is a skill or industry that I’m curious about, and the position is one that will aid me in learning and mastering said skill. 

Outside of these three scenarios, I find it hard to consider trading in my freedom for money. I know attorneys that make great money but that have no time to enjoy it. Conversely, I know stoners that have all the time in the world but that don’t have the means to live a comfortable life without leaning on those around them. My intent is to find a happy medium; a life that affords me the freedom to pursue my goals and interests, while also allowing me to fund such ventures without worry.

stan collins

My Dear Black brothers and sisters, You’ve Been Deceived

Reading Time: 5 minutes

My dear black brothers and sisters, you’ve been deceived. 

I was never really political until a few years ago, as I imagine is the case for most people in their 20s; and when I began to think about society and politics, I was drawn to the left. There are no facts or studies that I know of to back this up, but I think that most people start as liberals. On paper it makes perfect sense. The picture that was painted for me was that liberalism is the good party, the party that looks out for the little guy. Being a liberal meant that you had an open mind and great intentions. It meant that you were a virtuous and caring human that stood for objectively good things like equal rights and taking care of those that are less fortunate than ourselves. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it also meant that you were bound to the Democratic party. 

It isn’t difficult to see how a young person that is beginning to take an interest in social or political issues would naturally gravitate to the left. Most would probably not identify as Democrats, but would have no problem proudly stating that they are a liberal or progressive. 

So far this all checks out; however, things get a bit more complicated upon further examination when considering the collective behavior of most black people. When I was young, I overheard a conversation amongst adults that strongly emphasized loyalty to the Democrats. At the time, all I thought I knew about politics was that everyone involved were either Democrats or Republicans; so when I heard two adults, both of whom were black, talking about their love for Democrats, I began to wonder why. “So, why should we be loyal to Democrats?” Both men let out patronizing laughs and one responded, “because we’re black!”

To be honest, I don’t recall the exact words from that encounter, but the message that I took from it has stuck with me and has since, for the most part, proven to be true. There are exceptions to every rule, but stereotypes are a thing for a reason. For whatever reason, it happens to be the case that black people are usually Democrats. 

Now, if I were to look at this idea under the perspective of today, this stereotype could be easily explained away due to the fact that nearly every famous actor, musician, rapper, or talk show host are liberals, or progressives, or leftists; but they are all really just Democrats. As a result of nearly all of the media that most people consume being left-leaning, a lot of young people are going to be drawn to it, regardless of race. While I do believe that there is some merit to this idea, it doesn’t explain why such a large percentage of black Americans are Democrats. 

If you are a black person (or any person really) that supports Biden, or any candidate that isn’t Donald Trump, do you know why? 

The assumption is that black people tend to lean left because the Democratic party is the only one that cares about black people. That sounds reasonable, and if true, is certainly a good reason for being a Democrat; but is that actually the case? I became very curious about this idea and decided to do some research on the Democratic party in America. What I found shocked me.

Historically, the Democratic party has been the leading force behind almost every negative thing that has happened to black people in this country. It was the Democrats that fought the rest of the country because they wanted to keep their slaves. The Republican party was literally founded on the idea that slavery should be abolished. Seriously, Google “why was the republican party formed?” It was Democrats that attempted to filibuster the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Even beyond rights for blacks, the Republican party supported women’s right to vote in 1854; the reason it didn’t pass until 1920 is because the Democrats didn’t want it. 

These are the facts. So why then, do so many people consider themselves to be progressive, liberal, Democrats when that party is (and always has been) the antithesis of what the people are supposedly fighting for? 

My theory is that most people don’t really care about politics or social issues outside of their immediate world. Assuming that this is the case, if the news station that is on in every airport, and every celebrity ,or entertainer, or rapper, and every late night talk show host all agree that Democrats stand for everything that is good, and that Trump stands for everything that is bad; it becomes clear why the average person would take this stance. 

In the spirit of transparency, I think it is important to note that I did not vote for Barack Obama, but if I did vote, I would have. Not because I believed in his policies, and not even because he was a Democrat and I was a black man, if I gave a damn about politics at the time, I would have voted for Barack Obama because he was a black dude. Again, I don’t have any statistics or legitimate sources for this next statement; but I believe that almost every black person that voted for Obama did so for the sole reason that he was black. I don’t imagine that many black people would disagree with me on that statement, and that doesn’t make it right, but honestly I think we all know that it’s true. 

The internal issue that I face is that I completely understand why black people would vote for Obama without understanding, or even caring in many cases, what he stood for. It was potentially the first black president, I get it. What I don’t understand is why anyone (but specifically black people) would blindly follow the lead of the Democrats when history shows that they are the enemy of black people. It is bizarre to me that anyone that claims to stand for equal rights among races and women’s rights would ever stand behind a Democrat. It simply doesn’t make sense.

Realistically, I do actually understand how this twisted reality came to be; but my goal is to get you, the reader, intrigued enough to search for the answers yourself. If any of this truly matters to you, is it not best that you have all of the pertinent information before deciding where you land?

Every top headline that emerges and finds its way to our Facebook and news feeds has at least two different meanings depending on where you get your information. The best way to combat this is to watch or read CNN’s take on the story and then watch Fox’s take. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, it is vital to learn the perspective of both sides. To take it a step further, the absolute best thing to do is to follow both extremes and then hear what the independent, third party news sources on Youtube think. 

The truth isn’t always comfortable to hear, but you’re always better off knowing.

Are you a black Democrat? If so, do you know why? Can you back it up? Personally, I don’t care what you think. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; however, if you have no facts or information to back your opinion, then what is it really worth? 

Nothing.

-Stan Collins Boyd

The Sickness of Society and the Rise of the Virtuous Ones

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Why do you believe the things that you do?

The sickness is all around us. Some are immune, but they’ll never know it. Instead, they’ll sit in fear as they watch every other person around them get sick. The vast majority of those infected will recover after a week of hell, and the healthiest person in the group will die from drowning. 

And every other person on any given Facebook feed will post opinions for or against the reality of coronavirus, and every post will miss the point. Maybe a third of the posts will be backed by information from a “legitimate” source, and perhaps half of those sources will have information that is partially true. The problem, of which I don’t have a solution, is that each person that posts information will do so with the idea that they are correct and the opposing idea is clearly wrong. In this new world of collective anger and anxiety, posting anything that suggests agreement for a certain point of view will surely be passionately contested by someone. And when this occurs, there will form two sides that both think that they are correct and that the opposing ideology is wrong; but not just wrong, absurd, unintelligent, immoral. 

So how does a society divided amongst moral and logical lines reconcile itself? I hope the answer isn’t that it can’t; but my hope is wearing thin. I’m only slightly less guilty than those I criticize. I’ve got my opinions on the sickness, and the actual impact of racism in this country, and the relevance of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the effect of a second term for President Trump; and for every one of my opinions is a list of logical arguments and sources to back them up. 

In some circles, my ideas are so obvious that they aren’t even worth mentioning lest the conversation devolve into the dreaded intellectual circle jerk where everyone states their shared beliefs amongst like-minded people. On the other hand, the vast majority of my family, peers, and acquaintances under the age of 40 would cringe, and in some cases, become overly-emotional and agitated at the thought that someone that they know personally could feel such a way. 

The intensity of the reactions that I’ve encountered, both for and against my train of thought was such that I became fully committed to understanding the reasoning behind it all. As someone that tends to lean to the right on most social and political topics, the extremes of that side were easier to understand. Highly contested topics such as the idea that racism and oppression against blacks in our country is a serious issue sounds absurd to me; but that is nothing new to many that lean right.

Conversely, those on the left that I’ve spoken with about such topics are so confident in their position that the very thought of someone disagreeing with them is seen as a personal attack on their core beliefs, or rather, an attack on them personally. 

Ultimately, the problem with debates on the aforementioned hot topics of today is that both parties are usually starting from separate premises. For instance, a Black Lives Matter activist might think something along the lines of, “‘Most police officers are racist. Racism is bad, therefore, police should be abolished.” The reasoning behind such a claim in this scenario might  be, “Cops are murdering unarmed black people regularly, look at George Floyd. Look at Ahmad Arbury. Look at Breonna Taylor.” From the point of view of the person that sees their Facebook feed filled with angry articles and outrage over the unjust killings of black people by white police officers; it isn’t difficult to see why they might believe that this is a significant issue worthy of riots and social unrest. Afterall, the newest lasting trend of the 21st century is victimhood. 

The skeptical, yet open-minded individual might question the reasoning and motives behind the Black Lives Matter movement and turn to Google to seek out answers for themselves. It won’t take long for the person that is asking the right questions to find definitive answers in this age of infinite information at our fingertips. Nearly all of the highly publicized cases on which Black Lives Matter has built its global brand fall apart upon examination. In fact, in nearly every case of a black person being killed by a police officer in the past year, the black person was either armed or actively fighting against the police when they were killed. 

It is important to note that every case is different, and I don’t doubt that there was some foul play in some of those scenarios; however, the fact remains that in almost every single case, the “innocent, unarmed black person” was indeed committing a crime and was also breaking what should be considered the golden rule when dealing with police officers –– don’t resist arrest or attempt to harm the cops. If they are wrong, well that’s what the court system is for.

This concept, which seems so simple and straightforward to me, and what I assume is the majority of citizens in this country, is nothing short of racist and would warrant the harshest of responses from more than half of the millenials that I know, as well as, a decent amount of people in the generation that preceded me. 

It was because of this realization that I arrived at what I find to be the root of the problem. Those that see racism and oppression as a major issue in our society (the left), start from the premise that minorities are oppressed because of systemic racism. Conversely, the group that opposes this ideology (the right), bases their arguments on the idea that America is a country where anyone, regardless of race or upbringing, has the opportunity to succeed. The American dream.

The result of any debate between passionate participants of either ideology will almost always be inconclusive because neither side will be able to relate to the arguments of the other. One side holds its beliefs based on the idea that the world is a certain way, while the other will disagree because they have a fundamentally different view of the world. 

It reminds me of something some history teacher from middle school once said in regards to war. “Both sides think that they are fighting for a just cause and, in most cases, both sides believe in and pray to a God; but in the end, one side always wins and one side always loses, regardless of who was actually right.” 

My fear is that we have come to the point where the country is irreversibly divided. Each side believes that they are not only correct, but also the virtuous ones. The most likely outcome that I foresee is some form of civil war. I hope that I am wrong, but I believe that our society is on the brink of collapse due to fundamental differences in opinion on the most important of topics. 

I don’t doubt that many of the Black Lives Matter supporters came to be out of good intentions. However, I also don’t think the vast majority of them realize how extreme things have become as a result of it. Several blocks of a major city in America has been seized, dozens of innocent people have been killed and seriously injured during protests, police forces in major cities known for high crime rates have stopped coming to work resulting in rampant violent crime, the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country. Innocent people have been locked up for daring to go to work while criminals that stole and destroyed property have been set free with all charges dropped. Statues and monuments of the very people that fought to end slavery, and even memorials erected specifically for black people have been vandalized and destroyed. Decades old brands that showcased black people that started as slaves and went on to become successful in life are being erased. 

The cause of the recent protests and subsequent riots that are, and have been, occurring across much of America over the past few weeks was one that nearly every American could get behind. We all saw the video of George Floyd pleading for his dead mother with his dying breaths, and everyone was in agreement that it was a bad thing. For a brief moment, I was even optimistic that this tragic event might bring both sides together for once; and yet somehow, we found a way to hate each other while actually being in agreement.

Going back to the first major 2020 point of division, the spread of coronavirus, our nation remains divided. Not only do we fight about how to handle the outbreak, our country is even divided about the very existence of this century’s first worldwide pandemic. Some believe the whole thing is a hoax. I assume those people have not experienced a death in the family as a result of it. Others believe that Covid-19 is equivalent to the modern plague. Many of those that hold this opinion believe that everyone should be forced to stay inside or be forced to wear a mask if they dare to go out into the world. There are people that believe that the country should have never been locked down, and there are those that believe the lockdown should not have been lifted. Many participants of each ideology could pull up reasons from what they consider to be a credible source as justification for their beliefs; and indeed, each source would be considered legitimate; and yet, each “credible” source presents a different opinion. 

So, what are we to make of this mess? This truly is a strange time. How can you blame someone for having a strong belief in something that not only seems like the moral and ethical move, but that is also backed up by the source that they, and millions of others consider to be the authority on the subject? Even those that know nothing of whatever the topic at hand might be can look to one side or another and feel comfortable in their decision. It’s easy to justify your position when millions of people are on your side. 

At a certain point, the truth of any given matter ceased to be as important as the group that supported it. This was the start of our downfall. When political correctness overtook reason, and when loyalty to a group, be it racial or political, became more important than truth, those who dared share opinions on public forums were forced to take sides. The sad result of this was that we as a nation, as a people, became divided. The escalation of our collective discontent for the opposition led to chaos in our country and dissent on every major issue that we have faced. 

I don’t have all of the answers, I doubt any one human does; but until we can find a way to get on the same page and communicate our concerns and issues, we are destined for mutually assured destruction.

As is the case with every piece of published opinion, I fully acknowledge that my views come with some level of bias. With that being said, it should be considered that my opinions are formed as a result of careful analysis of multiple news sources on all sides of the political spectrum. Furthermore, I find it beneficial to frequent the top tweets and ensuing comments from relevant parties. 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion; but if they haven’t done the research, that opinion isn’t worth much.

Thoughts on the George Floyd Protests – What happened to morality?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

They locked everyone up in their houses for two months and then said, you can leave the house now if you riot in the streets.

And if you riot in the streets, you won’t get in trouble because you’ll be “fighting for injustice.”

And so thousands of people across America proceeded to go out at night and break into businesses, and steal merchandise, and burn buildings, and destroy other people’s cars. 

And when it became cool to riot and destroy things, people forgot about right and wrong. 

It seems that nobody bothered to question why it was suddenly okay to destroy other people’s property.

“We are protesting injustice,” they said. “We are fighting oppression.” Nevermind the fact that the cop that killed George Floyd is already in jail and facing murder charges. 

“Cops are constantly killing innocent black people,” they said. Nevermind the fact that more white people are killed by cops than black people every single year; and that in the vast majority of those cases, the black person that died was, not only breaking the law, but also fighting a person with a gun that is legally allowed to shoot and kill anyone that attacks them.

What about when, in the same city that Floyd was killed, an unarmed white lady was killed by a black cop? That was only a couple of years ago. 

This is not about racism. It isn’t about police brutality. It’s not about fighting oppression. 

What we are seeing is what happens when you force people to stay home for months and then tell them that the world is against black people; and if you are black you should show the world how angry you are, and if you are white you should take to the streets to prove you aren’t racist, and everybody gets a free pass so long as you vote Democrat.

I hope that the vast majority of people supporting the rioting and looting are doing it because they simply don’t know any better. I hope it is the case that they haven’t seen the numbers disproving the myth that black people are being unfairly targeted on a large scale. I hope that supporters of this destruction are just ignorant, because the alternative is that they are just bad people. 

It wasn’t that long ago that we all agreed that stealing, and destroying property, and attacking innocent people in the streets were all immoral things. 

I pray to God that people find their morals before this country, our country lay in ruins.

Running Away With Strangers – Short Story

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sunlight poured through the blinds into the room and under the lids of my dry, tired eyes. My body was hurting and my mind was lost. The remnants of a once vivid and engaging dream were fading away as I slowly became conscious of my surroundings. 

Confused, worried thoughts and questions began to swirl through my mind. “Fuck, I’m so tired. Where am I? What time is it? Do I need to be somewhere? ….Who is this person sleeping next to me?” 

My contacts were dry, as was my mouth, and I struggled to sit up and begin the search for my phone. Surely I’d find some clues there, I thought. A few moments passed and I started to take in the environment around me. The room was still dark, but the streams of light that managed to find their way in, illuminated the nightstand to my right and the gorgeous human to my left. On the stand was my phone which I swept up with relief, but before I could even bother with checking the screen, my attention was absorbed fully by the stranger that lay peacefully beside me on the bed with long golden hair sprawled all about, and with a budding smile on the tips of her lips. 

After a few brief moments of admiration, I returned my attention to my phone and was more annoyed than surprised to find no less than 30 missed texts and calls from a number of different people. This was now going to be a whole ordeal and I was still significantly under the influence of whatever substances I’d partaken in throughout the night prior. The right move was to check my phone and respond to all of the messages that came in; responsibilities and whatnot. But I did not choose the right and responsible move. 

Instead, I turned to the girl and woke her up gently. She opened her eyes wide and they fell on me with excitement and full of desire. All thoughts of missed calls and texts, and of potentially missed engagements and responsibilities fell from my mind and were replaced with thoughts of her, and us. She gazed into my eyes seductively and I responded by kissing her and pulling her closer by the waist. 

Her hands pulled at my shorts as my phone began to vibrate furiously on the nightstand. I started to explore her body, as she did mine, and I soon found myself wrapped in the naked embrace of someone I did not know, in a place I’d never been, and with no recollection of how I’d even gotten there. Feelings of concern began to creep into my mind but such feelings were short-lived. The kissing became more intense as passion radiated from our bodies and throughout the room; and as more morning light poured through the blinds, we both began to glisten and glow. 

As I became lost in the lust in her eyes during this most passionate of moments, I failed to notice that my phone continued to vibrate and desperately call out to me. Over and over without pause, the phone mirrored our insatiable mood and it was some time before we were so drained of desire that I was cognizant enough to tend to the annoyance. I was overwhelmed by the number and urgency of the messages that were piling up.

“What have you done?!! You need to deal with this NOW!” I had a feeling that this most recent text would be the first of many from anxious and concerned friends and enemies. I had not yet pieced together the events of the night and now I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. Feelings of dread consumed me as I thought about the disaster that I was destined to face. Soon, it would be back to reality, what other choice did I have?

“Come back to bed,” beckoned the beauty adorned with a lascivious smile. My once tired eyes were now wide awake and they drifted from the phone over to the golden angel wrapped in linen sheets that was waiting impatiently for my return to the bed. It took but one glance from her longing eyes and I was sold. I turned off my hand-held connection to the rest of the world and returned to my dream in paradise.

The Darkness Under Scottsdale Lights – Short Story

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Underneath the grand facade of Scottsdale city lights lives a melancholy existence, a sort of shared sadness amongst many of the locals that frequent the scene. Masked by massive amounts of blow and promiscuity, is a collective feeling of lacking. Everyone is talking and drinking, and dancing; and everyone is smiling, but nobody is happy. 

The signs are everywhere if you know where to look and how to listen. A drunk girl at the bar gossips to her girlfriend about someone that is standing only a few feet away. Apparently, that whore has been making eyes at some boy that the drunk girl wants but can’t have. She’s reminded by her friend that she can have the boy, she just needs to stop fucking the others. The drunk girl glares at her friend and then at the whore.

There’s a line at the men’s restroom but inside hangs a vacant urinal. There are also three guys in a stall with keys stuffed into baggies. One guy rants wildly about some girl that he supposedly loves, but he’s sure she is still seeing her ex. He’s lost and he’s devastated. He doesn’t know what to do and so he confides in his pals over a few bumps in the bathroom; but his buddies stay quiet because they, too, are fucking his girlfriend.

The debauchery knows no bounds. With straight faces, lost souls lie to each other regularly and without hesitation. Every secret is told at least twice. A group is reunited at the bar, two drunk girls and three high guys. One of the girls is dating one of the guys and fucking the other two. The other girl is falling over her fifth vodka that hour and reaching for the boy. He doesn’t notice this, however, as he is fixated on the gorgeous girl standing a few feet away with two dudes. The dudes are talking to the girl but the girl is looking over seductively at the boy. The drunk girl at the bar is on the verge of tears as the boy excuses himself from the group and disappears with the whore from across the way. 

The bar closes and drunks linger as golf carts come and go. Cigarette smoke fills the air outside of the bar as the lonely ones that are left scroll through their phones for options. Nearly every girl will find one, most guys won’t. And a guy will go home with his girlfriend not knowing that she was with his friend earlier that day in the very bed where he is now drunkenly making a move. As things heat up, he thinks about his girl’s best friend and he wonders if he’ll be able to fuck her again. 

One week later, as was the case one week before, those same lost souls ventured out to the same bar and had conversations that varied ever so slightly from the ones had on that particular night. Throughout the week, they all suffered silently and in solitude; but they all suffered. They independently gossiped to one another about each other and they all promised to keep everything that was said secret. And when they found themselves in a circle at the bar on a Saturday, one of them drunkenly slipped-up and stated a secret that was to be held close. The rest of the group, having already known the contents of the slip-up were unable to react because they weren’t supposed to know. And so they all continued to drink their distractions and discreetly slip away to the powder room, and everything was as it always had been. And the lights that illuminated the streets of Scottsdale failed to catch the darkness that consumed the town.