The Victim

Chapter Two: Friends

Make the country great again

When she died, it made everyone feel like all the happiness, all the cheerfulness had been sucked out of the world, and that all that remained was a cruel, empty joke. At the funeral… Oh the funeral. I couldn’t bear her uncle and aunt’s faces. They simply couldn’t understand how someone so young, who oozed kindness, could have… When they approached me, I thought they would scream at me, blame me for everything. But no, they hugged me and we cried together.

My friend from school took me in. If I was a little weaker, I would’ve drowned in a sea of wine. But my deep, burning hate for alcohol kept me from going down that terrible path. For two months I stood still as the world passed by, but then I remembered what I set out to do so much time ago, when I got into law school. I couldn’t stay like this forever, so I talked to her uncle, who agreed to pay for my tuition and arrange my reinstatement in college for my last year. But I will still have to wait a few more months until the start of classes.

Meanwhile, I will continue to live with my friend from school in her new, large apartment. I didn’t know she had this much money, and her parents weren’t exactly rich. She only told me my dead girlfriend’s uncle was very generous to her. Anyway, I’m digressing. There is one thing that hurt me. My girlfriend’s brother decided to blame me for her death, ceased to respond to my calls, and just plain disappeared a few days after her death. I think he just needed some time on his own. I just hope he’s ok…

During this interim, until I can resume my studies, I’ve been working at tol directly for my friend from school and following the news and the social media activity. It strikes me how petty everyone is. Everywhere I look, there are no honest, good-faith discussions about left or right policies. It’s all about appealing to emotion and using all sorts of fallacies.

We need leaders that are better than that. We need executives and legislators who understand their duty to the people they serve beyond their own personal gain. But hey, don’t take me for an idealist, far from it. I think I can actually deliver one such politician. It can’t be me, however. I’m not cut out for that. Although I know of someone who is already proving to be a great leader: my friend from school. She’s not as kind as… my girlfriend was. I guess you could think about her as a ‘woman of steel,’ since she fights for everything and usually reaches favorable compromises. She also delivers her speeches with such passion, I feel it’s an honor to help her write them.

Look, I won’t ask you to imagine a world with this or that type of leader, with this or that doctrine. No, I will show you. But first things first. We need an arbiter, someone in the middle to say: “Hey, these and those people are simply fighting each other, not promoting fair discussion.” We need to bring back honest debate of ideas.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who feels this way. My friend from school has also voiced her concerns, both privately and publicly, about this issue. Tol was meant to be an anti-racism propaganda machine, but my dead girlfriend’s uncle doesn’t really care that much what exactly it does now. He doesn’t seem to care that much about anything anymore. And my friend from school, now tol’s leader, is using this opportunity to promote her own goals. Our goals.

The core of what we defend is simple: that any idea is debated, no matter who says it or what it means. And this is independent of your political affiliation. You see, it looks like partisanship only antagonizes people. As soon as people realize they’re listening to someone who “opposes” their ideas, it’s like they shut down and stop listening.

I mean, I understand why that happens. But we can’t let people censor ideas they disagree with. Otherwise, we’re no better than totalitarian regimes like the nazis. That’s something history has taught us, at the very least.

So we’ve tried to act as the voice of reason, reproaching both sides of the political spectrum to reach a middle ground. We comment on social media, specially on the polemic president’s inflammatory tweets. Usually, we get buried under a mountain of more… catching tweets. “OMG WHAT AN LOSER” is the most voted comment to one of the president’s calls to “make the country great.”

During these past two months, she has managed to reshape tol’s infrastructure completely. We don’t organize, promote or fund demonstrations anymore. All the staff and efforts are focused on a single task: promoting fair discussion online. There’s two whole floors filled with people that spend all their working hours in front of computers, doing precisely that. And I can feel this is only the beginning.