Demon in the Mind

I will suppose...that some malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me;

I will suppose that the sky, the air, the earth, colors, figures, sounds, and all external things, are nothing better than the illusions of dreams

– Descartes

A new bogeyman now haunts our dreams, our courts, our civic discourse. At your every turn, its threat compels you to look over your shoulder, checking and checking again whether your decision was made under its nefarious influence. Words which would have before passed innocently by now demand critical scrutiny, to be tested for any trace of the impurity. Worse, even when no trace can be found there is no relief – it only means the menace has burrowed deep beneath your ability to detect it.

The phantom of "unconscious bias" is here, inside your mind.

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"No"

Careful the things you say, children will listen
Careful the things you do, children will see, and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
  To learn what to be
Careful before you say, "Listen to me"
Children will listen

— Sondheim

Words are tools, and wielded well they craft and build, or support and care. Each word is a tool given to all, blind to chance of birth, granted to every age. Among these tools, there are a few which hold within them such power that their discovery by children leads to profound fascination.

Of these lectical fixations, one stands above all, a terror that cuts through the thickest crowds and alarms any adult who hears.

That dreaded word is "no".

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Against 'Make America Great Again'

Where did it all go wrong?

Today America is divided, more than I have ever known it to be. Algorithmically reinforced bubbles of thought have desynchronized our descriptions of reality, so that to our fellow citizens, our words sound like gibberish. Excommunication, until recently derided as one of the worst dehumanizing features of religion, has become apparently fashionable again, and has brought along a harsh sentence for sense-making, a penalty for acts of cognitive empathy and reconciliation.

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Now, I Write

The putting of thoughts onto a page has always felt magical to me—something about carefully weaving words into a tapestry to most fully display all the wonder an idea can hold. For years now, thoughts have clung to the back of my mind in disorder, hopeful for their eventual release, but I had turned my mind elsewhere, never thinking I was quite ready for the task.

But of late, unamusing musings have haunted my mind, seeking their escape. The ideascape which I had fostered is, it seems, not quite so buffered from outside forces as I had imagined it to be. My garden of ruminations waiting to be written someday has become a battleground insisting on claiming its voice now.

So now I write because I must,
    because these ideas demand the words they are due,
    because I cannot betray Truth, no matter the cost,
    because Truth is best of all that is good.