This is why we can't have nice things

I'd like to think that I have principles: a desire to seek out truth; a desire to help others; focus on freedom of thought and expression; and questioning of authority. While they've attracted me to broadly being left of our predominantly conservative societies, they've also landed me in trouble.

I'm attracted to science because it's possibly the most effective way of knowing that we have. Unlike any other way of knowing, it is self-correcting over time - not always easily or well, but it gets there. And it shows us wonders.

For me, one of those wonders is a vast improvement in comfort and quality of life. People regularly live to seventy or eighty nowadays. Many more diseases are now survivable; vaccination has restricted many diseases around the world. We even managed to eradicate smallpox.

Learning about science and keeping up with the news has also made me painfully aware that none of this is guaranteed. Antibiotic resistance is on the rise; antivaxx rhetoric has real consequences and kills children. Climate change is demonstrably real, but politicians wring their hands and do nothing.

I have also historically been left-of-the-right-but-still-problematic; that's the best way I can describe it. And I feel very problematic right now.

I used to actually give a shit about politics, keeping up with the righteous on social media and attending rallies. I would have long conversations about how Republicans/conservatives/capitalism were Very Bad Indeed with people I considered moral.

A lot of that dissipated; I had most of my idealism shattered by realising that rallies - even ones thousands strong - don't necessarily work, and that repeating what is essentially the same conversation over and over again has an even lower success rate. Still, I used to think "my side" were more...well...upstanding. We have lofty ideals regarding liberation, oppression and justice.

It is precisely because of those ideals that I'm so pissed off. We were supposed to be the ones fixing what's broken, not continuing to break it and hurting vulnerable people in the process. I could take screwing up. I could take being called problematic or a bad person. It wouldn't be easy; it eats me inside. What I have trouble taking is ideals and actions being totally disparate. It breaks part of me. If I have to be regarded as problematic to stop cognitive dissonance from eating me, I'll do that.

Here is my particular gripe: I am fed up of white, affluent, abled liberals taking simplistic stances on things like GM crops or the way drug companies operate. Issues like those affect millions of people, often marginalised, and the harm corporations do is tightly bound up with actual concrete ways to improve people's lives.

That's not to say that everything corporations do is absolutely fine and great; it's to say that you have to acknowledge that the same entities hurting many people have also done good work, both for profit. That's why they're so tightly bound together. That's the reality millions of people live with. It's that reality which white, affluent, abled liberals don't acknowledge - and it ends up backfiring and hurting marginalised people more. And I'm so very tired of it.

I am so tired of white, affluent, abled liberals who will profess being good people, but then spout antivaxx rhetoric (affects children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems), throw disabled people under the bus to push the message that Big Pharma is baaaaad (we already knew, but also implying that medication itself is bad feeds into horrible ableism), and jump on any anti-scientific thing they might find to get back at Monsanto. (This last one is pathetic, since Monsanto are already terrible. The fact that people still fall for things like the DHMO hoax, or uncritically latch onto the Séralini study without knowing that it was poorly designed, used rats which were already prone to developing tumours, and had a massive conflict of interest, really worries me.)

I don't think any of these people are necessarily bad, nor do I think every white, affluent, abled liberal is anti-scientific or incapable of self-reflection. I'm saying that these issues are huge and complex and can't be solved with shouty images from some Facebook page, and that not treating them with the respect they deserve hurts the most marginalised and vulnerable people. I'm saying that you need to be a bit of a science nerd, or a policy wonk, or maybe a bit of both, to live up to lofty ideals.

Whether that's a good or a bad thing is your opinion. Me, I just know that I'm tired of falling short.