You Don’t Get To Side With Tragedy And Pretend To Be Just.
It’s extremely important to remember people we disagree with on even the highest level are still people.
Today, those if us who follow video games — yes, the side that argues a lot on the internet in particular; and no, this essay isn’t going to be about video games — found out that popular (and controversial) YouTube game critic John Bain (known online as TotalBiscuit) has been given 2–3 years to live; he is dying of cancer. Once again, I’ve seen some of the worst behavior possible from all walks of life. I see so much of it, it seems like my lot in life — and it’s not just the reactionaries.
We can talk about them first, though. On link voting sites and anonymous image boards, there appears to be a gleeful “I can’t wait for the social justice warriors to expose themselves as horrible human beings who want TB to die!” atmosphere. The issue here is that these people appear to not legitimately care that a human being, a parent and a spouse, has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and given an extremely finite amount of time to live. At least, they don’t care beyond their ability to use this to make people they don’t like look bad.
They aren’t just callous, either. They are legitimately using a human being’s tragic suffering in an attempt to characterize people who are generally concerned with things like equality and marginalized groups’ representation in art and media. There’s no good reason to use someone’s suffering, but there’s no worse reason than this.
On the other side, some claiming to be on the right side of social issues (the left) have — almost as if by request — fulfilled this opportunistic fantasy for them. The people expressing the want for another human being to die by cancer (or really by any means) show a distinct lack of the required compassion of progressivism. What do we push for social and economic equality for? For the hell of it? No, it is out of compassion and care for our fellow human beings that we act.
To both of these groups of people (the latter smaller than the former but equally disgusting if not moreso): what the hell is wrong with you? This is a human being with a family. He has a kid and a spouse, what is this doing to them? Did they take very public social stances on a variety of issues that are generally regarded as damaging? No. They didn’t. Though, even if they did, wishing this on anyone or reveling in it isn’t acceptable; it’s downright scummy.
I don’t believe in anything supernatural. Nothing. I think karma, as a cosmic concept, is total bullshit. I think “what comes around goes around” is valid as a social concept, but the universe does not dole out justice to those who “deserve it,” nor can it discern the difference between a carbon molecule in a star and a carbon molecule in my asshole. Cancer doesn’t happen to people who “deserve it,” it’s a disease that has specific causes that we are constantly researching to someday fully evade the horrific grip it can close in around the necks of anyone. Cancer is a tragedy. Nothing less, nothing more.
People who make the conscious decision to side with or use tragedy are not seeking justice of any kind. Oh, they may be on the side of the angels. But don’t think for one second that they are one of them. Hatred fuels the sentiment that tragedy is gratifying in some way as much as it nourishes the idea tragedy can be a tool. In short: if you fall into either of these categories, you’re among heaps of trash.
The folks involved in either of these odious acts would all happily call themselves “on the right side of history” regarding so many things. Yet, they couldn’t be more wrong. If one truly believes in any of the shit so many of us from every side of the political aisle claim to believe in (and truly believe that in believing so and advocating for, we are helping people), one doesn’t say it’s good when people get terminal cancer.
When I read the news about Mr. Bain, my heart sunk. Not even that long ago, he had put it out there that he had been given the news his cancer was in remission. As much as I find the man beyond forgivable at times, I felt good for him when I heard that. This was the exact opposite. When I hear someone has been given a short period of time to live, I think about people in their life. Then I think about people in my life, what would happen to them if I died. I think about how I would feel if I was given this news. I’m a year older than Mr. Bain and frankly, on top of sadness for he and his, it scares me to think how fragile life truly is.
I have a family of my own and can’t help swapping myself or one of them for Mr. Bain. How would I feel if my wife got cancer? How would she feel if I got it? Our child could potentially grow up without one of us. These thoughts kill me inside and I know it’s not even scratching the surface of what the Bain family is feeling right now. My heart is with all of them right now even though my brain is seldom so.
A human being can learn and develop beyond their words and deeds, but they can’t live after dying. I send my hopes to you, Bain family.
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