The Sickness Unto Wokeness

Everyone has their own cross to bear. You never know what suffering someone is carrying inside. Platitudes designed to increase empathy towards the other are a common linguistic trope. Humans need reminding of our essential condition to keep us from holding others to higher standards than we hold for ourselves.

I think about empathy a lot and the way we often struggle to extend it towards others, as I live with a chronic disease. When pain is a constant companion it’s easy to demand that others see our full humanity. Even when at the bottom of our own well of suffering, we struggle to extend the same kindness. If anything it is because we often live without the light of an easy existence we are willing to do more to accommodate another human soul. Because the thing about regular reminders of human frailty? It works. Slowly those with challenges do become more attuned to the struggles of their fellow man. Their heart softens when reminded that others suffer as they do.

Because the true blessing of disease in all its forms is the persistent reminder it provides to cut your fellow man some fucking slack. Someone blocks you online? They must be fighting their own hardest battle. A stranger is an asshole to you for no reason? You don’t know what is going on in their heart. Those of us that live with chronic diseases and disability have a special superpower that short circuits the tendency towards cynicism. Having uncharitable thoughts towards a friend who is chronically late or unreliable is almost impossible when you too fight for the normalcy of consistency and timeliness, as a disease flare can occur at random. We aren’t saints but we know human frailty is no sin.

I’ve long thought that anyone with significant disadvantages in life, like a chronic disease, is more likely to be sympathetic to a gentler, kinder set of societal conditions. We aren’t all leftist or committed to equity work. Hell I’m a libertarian. But the chronic disease community has more than its fair share of people who believe in social safety nets and the role of government in protecting its citizens. And the tendency to police for ableism can be sharp. Screeds toward self reliance or even off hand jokes about the morality of sickness just don’t land for chronic disease patients. And why wouldn’t it? Asking for the golden rule seems reasonable. It’s a bare minimum.

All this is to say I’m more likely to empathize with the social justice warrior set than those who are convinced it will be the downfall of civilization. Is it irritating to always be reminded of the multitudes of the human conditions and the identities that are built from suffering? Sure. Do people abuse the hierarchy of perceived victimhood for personal gain? That is as American as apple pie. But we are engaged in a constant existential battle to get ourselves out from the bottom of the hierarchy heap. The churning inhumanity of systems beyond our control makes us more attuned to hypocrisy. It makes us less rigid about opportunity, access and outcomes. We can see someone suffering and realize “there but for the Grace of God go I.” I’ll not defend the byproducts of a polarized society. I’ll will defend extending an extra beat of human kindness in your journey.

So the next time you find yourself tempted to be snide about an activist and the language they use remember me before you let less complaints about the softness or stupidity of woke society. Because what most of us are asking for is a reasonable accommodation of our humanity. You know me to be a good faith person. I’m asking that you approach me with the empathy and kindness that comes from being genuinely caring about the plight of someone you know. That’s what being woke is; empathy. And if someone you respect asks for it you grant it.


The First Hurdle

Tossing one offs is much easier for me. Editing is a misery. I constantly second guess my wording and narrative when I am building on a thesis. But letting lose a good pun of stream of consciousness rebuilds my willpower. I find it easy and restorative. I suspect pith and story telling are the equivalent of introversion vs extroversion. You can develop the skills for either but you’ve got an innate preference for one or the other. In my case I crush a cocktail party and can write terrific essays but I’d prefer to be in the company of a few close friends and keep my writing away from the red pen.

I’m unclear if this is a function of insecurity. I never worry about holding my own in a conversation even with the most qualified and demonstrably brilliant. Sometimes to my detriment as I’ll make a ridiculous joke that undermines someone’s authority or credentials but once it’s out the door I don’t dwell on it. I move on and find I’m generally forgiven. But if I’m given the chance to refine and revise I’ll dwell on it endlessly. I’m constantly finding poor phrasing and agonizing that I could have found a clearer way to make my point.

This is all a long winded way of saying that on my second day of writing long form content in 2021 I’m already struggling. I’ve got dozens of topics I’d like to delve into but I spent the entire day being so worked up about making a coherent point that I ended up not writing anything. But I did write a half dozen good tweets. Let’s hope by exercising the muscle of putting this into long form that tomorrow I’ll actually make a decent point.


Day 1 or The Chronicles of Julie

In 2021 I will create as much as I consume. Or at least attempt to balance the ratio as much as is possible given divisions of labor in capitalism. I’ve fallen out of the habit of making things in the past two years as I’ve worked through health challenges and the transitions they imposed on my life. I’m happier when I’m making things. From my early childhood in Waldorf schools to my career as an entrepreneur creating has always been the anchor of my life.

In my college years I picked up blogging. As was typical of the early blogosphere, I mostly focused on my hobbies which at the time was Greek antiquity and Italian fashion. I called it “Where Plato and Prada Meet” and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it changed the trajectory of my life. I met my first cofounder in the comments section, I got invited to fashion week and I eventually turned the community in a business selling advertising and the early incarnations of sponsored content. That lead to an entire career in retail and e-commerce where I was lucky to ride the wave of the next generation of merchants and shopping. But back to my original point.

The simple act of committing a thought to more concrete form is a creative discipline. Like any discipline it becomes easier the more you practice. Ease comes from regular action.

To begin my practice of regular creation I am committing to publishing some form of content every single day. There will be no theme. No specific form of content. No overarching lesson. I will write essays. I will collect links to topics that interest me. Some days will publish longer form content that o have prepared and edited. Some days I will put down a stream of consciousness. But I still commit to do something every single day in public. If you would like to tag along with me I typically wander a large terrain, often with my pack of intellectual peers across the independent web.

But if you would like a preview to decide if you want to ride along with me I plan to deeper my interests across liberal politics and civics (by that I mean enlightenment liberalism not say leftist political parties), macroeconomics, aesthetics both personal and cultural, science fiction, finance (generally venture capital but some private equity and public market topics), currency and monetary policy (obviously I like crypto) homesteading and resilience, health and fitness (including a large dose of woo-woo self experimentation biohacking), public relations and media theory, and whatever else may come across my transom.