A conversation had recently with a friend.
Kendyl. Where do you think you’ll be when world war three breaks out?
Elliott. Hopefully Thailand. I feel like no one is interested in nuking or invading Thailand.
Kendyl. Unless they’re looking for the motherload of sticky rice and ancient Buddhist paraphernalia. Other than that, yeah, no one is interested in invading Thailand.
Elliott. Hence why I’d like to be there when all Hell breaks loose.
Kendyl. We joke about this utter destruction of western civilization, but it has never been more possible.
Elliott. I suppose that’s true. It makes it an interesting time to decide to do some traveling, that’s for sure.
Kendyl. Just don’t die. If you die I will punch you so hard.
Elliott. I’ll be dead. Won’t matter how hard you punch.
Kendyl. I’ll punch your corpse then.
Elliott. You’re a history major—why is everything so terrible right now?
Kendyl. You should rephrase that to: “Why has everything always been so terrible?”
Elliott. Do you think that’s true?
Kendyl. That history has always been shitty? Yes! Dude, do you know how many women were burned at the stake in the middle ages for being considered witches?
Elliott. Probably a lot.
Kendyl. Yeah, like, something to the tune of hundreds of thousands! History comes in all different flavors of shit, no matter the time or place.
Elliott. What flavor of shit do we have now?
Kendyl. I don’t know. Though I can tell you the shit is probably Cheeto-orange colored, and sprinkled with fake gold flakes.
Kendyl. Thank you, I try.
Elliott. Would you like to hear my non-history major attempt at understanding the current dumpster fire that is our world?
Elliott. Misunderstanding plays a crucial part, I think. Think of all the different ways you can misunderstand, say, your neighbor. You go over to his house for dinner one night and you think everything went swimmingly, and then the next thing you know he’s installed an enormous fence along his property. You think, “Well Jesus, I hope I didn’t say something at dinner that offended Jason.”
Kendyl. Who’s Jason?
Elliott. Your neighbor in this example. So you rewind the dinner conversation in your head, looking for clues that might explain Jason’s fence. You come up with one hundred different reasons why Jason is acting so cold, and you think, “What a jerk! He could have just said something!”
Kendyl. And then Jason and I never speak again, right?
Elliott. Exactly. In reality, Jason built the fence because he heard bears have been skulking around the neighborhood and he wants to protect his dogs. All that is just the different ways you can misunderstand the person who lives next to you! Now imagine how easy it is to misunderstand a refugee you see on the news, or someone with whom you have conflicting views.
Kendyl. What’s your solution then?
Elliott. Face-to-face interaction is a start. Actually seeing other places rather than stewing in your own corner of the world.
Kendyl. Well that’s great for someone like you who can actually do that, but most people are tied to where they are because of jobs, a spouse, kids, or in my case, a car payment.
Elliott. Yeah how is the jeep?
Kendyl. Terrible. Never get a Jeep.
Elliott. Noted. How would you solve the misunderstanding problem?
Kendyl. I don’t know. Let’s talk about something else, please.
Elliott. Sure. Lovely weather we’re having this morning!
Kendyl. I hate you.