“Science should not stand in the way of this.”
These are the words that glare at me from my laptop screen at 4:04AM. My jaw has involuntarily dropped. I feel angry. Hopeless. Confused. But not surprised.
These words were uttered by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany after the president vehemently made it known that he wants schools to resume in-person learning as soon as possible. He wants them full and regularly attended — business as usual.
I’m no stranger to the phenomenon of demonizing science. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home where we were taught that the earth was 2,000 years old and that if a woman masturbated, then she’d ruin her marriage. (Because that’s how sex drives work.) We were taught that evolution was a hoax, naturally. When we asked questions, we were shushed at best and shamed at worst. Shushing and shaming — that was basically my entire adolescence.
If you’ve come this far in the year and haven’t challenged your preconceived views even just a little it, then you are living in a bubble and you are doing so by your own choice.
I know what these people are doing. And it terrifies me.
Before this, I’d continued to hold on to a shred of hope that the more conservative among my friends and family would wake up and notice that this type of crisis transcends religious and political beliefs. Christina, you sweet summer child.
If you’ve come this far in the year and haven’t challenged your preconceived views even just a little it, then you are living in a bubble and you are doing so by your own choice. As someone who lived in a bubble for years and am still reeling from the shock of bursting it, I know. And sure, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to escaping that kind of environment.
But come ON, people.
My alarm is going to go off in 2 hours, but I can’t sleep. I feel deeply unsettled in a way that I haven’t felt yet this year, and that’s saying a lot.
I remember thinking of science as an entity created by liberals dedicated to obstructing any worldview (Christianity) or cause (comprehensive sex education).
I remember watching Bill Nye the Science Guy and being forced to fast-forward the parts where he talked about humans being apes.
Even after leaving the faith, I continued to harbor a fear of science. Nobody had ever taught me how natural selection worked, or how diseases really spread.
I’ve been in the shoes of these science deniers. I’ve tried to see things from their perspective. I’ve tried not to offend anyone.
But this is about the lives of children. It’s about keeping academic spaces safe and educating. It’s about keeping teachers employed.
But I digress.
Repeat after me: science is real.
Furthermore, science is not something that “stands in the way” of your own personal agenda. Science doesn’t HAVE sides. It doesn’t have political parties or religions. It simply IS.
Everything exists because…science.
It’s late and my screen begins to blur in front of my eyes. I can feel sleep coming for me at last, but before I lose consciousness, I make the mistake of checking Facebook yet again.
The usual barrage of political rants interspersed with snapshots of smiling spawn and derpy doggos scrolls endlessly before my exhausted eyes.
What’s the point? I think, already feeling myself growing numb despite the impassioned feelings I’d been experiencing moments earlier. People aren’t going to change.
It is this feeling I am trying to snap myself out of moving into the latter half of this cursed year. After all, I got out of the bubble.
It’s not something I talk about a lot because I still consider myself behind my secularly-raised peers when it comes to subjects like science and politics. But I’m trying to do better.
Also, I’m angry and tired of keeping it inside.
If you’re reading this and you think science is a hoax or an enemy, might I suggest you do yourself a favor and do a google search on a single topic — just one! I get it, educating yourself isn’t easy when you’ve been so heavily indoctrinated. So start small and read up on a topic you want to learn more about.
Here was my embarrassing list when I first moved out of my family home in 2010, at the ripe age of 18:
- What was the Big Bang?
- How did humans become bipedal?
- What is natural selection and how does it work?
- How does global warming work?
- What are chemical compounds?
- Why do people have different skin colors?
- How old is the earth…ACTUALLY?
- Does masturbation cause stretch marks? (Yes, I’m serious.)
- Was there really a flood that wiped out the earth?
- What caused dinosaurs to become extinct?
- Speaking of dinosaurs, did they exist at the same time as humans?
The list goes on. If you grew up like me, then hopefully it made you feel a little better about your own inadequate scientific education and will encourage you to do some digging on your own. Because right now, it is crucial.
What are you teaching yourself today?
Christina Jumper writes about addiction, eating disorders, harm reduction, deconstruction, and recovery. She is the creator and cohost of Pickles and Vodka: a Mental Health Podcast, where she embarrasses herself weekly.