In a world without integrity, ruled by people with garbage values, designed to prop up the cruel, ignorant and greedy, there's only one course of action: Stand For Something. It's time to form a real value system, find others like yourself, and codify your ethics into practice. A practice that can't be bought or sold.
When I wrote cyberpunk trilogy CONSTELIS VOSS, I had four big goals in mind. Goals that affix my values as static, immutable beliefs:
- Stamp Stuart Hall 101 media literacy into skulls using anime nonsense.
- Give empowering representation to messy, traumatized queer folx.
- Challenge bigoted technological and social garbage data.
- Create an unlearning tool for white queers stuck in protagonist syndrome.
But I had another goal, too. Something needed for a good world and a good life: The hope that by writing books featuring messy queer folx joining forces against an unjust world, I'd bring that energy to my life. Because without community, good cannot prevail.
To explain this a bit more—and highlight just how difficult it is to truly stand for something—I need to tell you about myself. Then, we need to talk about what values actually are. Finally, you'll be faced with a decision that you must make. Let's begin.
My name is Kira Leigh. I'm a white, autistic, disabled bisexual transmasc who has—maybe up until this point in my life—felt very alone. My life's journey is difficult to explain without the power to place you there. Moreover, how I think, what I know, who I am...isn't relatable. It's impossible, fantastical and in many parts—tragic.
Life is often stranger than fiction.
No matter how close people got over the years, there was always a gulf. A great sea between me and everyone I loved. An ocean that could only be explained by surviving the impossible and learning from it. Miles and miles of salt water kept others at bay. I tried to cross it by mastering creative skills to communicate. Color theory as conversation and really nothing more.
When I'd reach some small shared island, despite all my education, time would become the distance. Sometimes when you grow up too fast, everyone around you feels like they freeze in place, but that's not quite it. Life experience can make you permanently future-bound and aware. I can't turn off the pattern recognition foresight even if I wanted to. It makes for very difficult friendships.
It might even make for a very difficult life. For knowing what you shouldn't—at all times, because autism—can be very overwhelming. Especially when you live in a world built by the careless, calcified in damage and constructed to service humanity's bad actors.
The whole thing needs a reformat, honestly.
Because it's so hard to describe, I took to fiction. It's almost like being a sentient AI, plagued by feeling and thinking too much. Impressive, but permanently broken, A120-P destroys his own garbage data to force a world reset. After that, strapped to a dying capitalist machine, he struggles for survival alone. He creates allies from botched memories. Twists a world to his aims, becomes what he hates and grows toxic.
All to live, love and protect a world that can't stop replicating the systemic carnage of its ancestors. Carnage a machine like him—like me—can't unsee no matter how hard we try.
That's a lonely story to write and a lonely self-warning. It's also a lonely world to live in. It's made lonelier by how our world is currently shaped: Value systems and identities subsumed by capitalism.
Personal contexts and relationships contorted for profit. Every idea that can be sold is sold, and any idea too transformative is steamrolled by monocultural narrative. Media, the often-owned mouthpiece of the privileged-ignorant, does its job perfectly.
Yes, so all of this is lonely, but not so much these days. These days, by standing firm on my values, I pulled off what I'd almost thought impossible outside of fiction: A real community to belong to.
I think I let the right ones in. Good people who are willing to chart, in their way, across my strange digital sea. People who know that I don't want to operate alone and never did. Maybe even those willing to dip their hands between my wires and pull me free. Hold me close, listen, let me feel and think, but gently this time. Unjudged, delicate, skin-soft and loved despite being a very competent (broken) tool, a blue tear slides down a metal cheek.
That is why you must stand for something. You will only find the right community when you do.
Values: The very thing corporate crushes until you're nothing but a broken machine powering a broken system. Values: What is demanded you bury just to suit the aims of those who have none.
Values: Standards of behavior, what is deemed worthy, important, and how one judges the world and their own actions. Values that I grew by loving people more than social reality says they deserve.
Right now, the world is in deep pain. There are big reasons as to why that is, each threaded through to form a complex puzzle. A puzzle built before we were born. A puzzle built by people who had no desire to solve communal-human problems, let alone build equitable puzzles. They had no foresight, empathy, logic, or value system based on anything real—a box of selfish lies that takes lifetimes to unlearn.
Right now, you have a decision to make: Do you accept our broken, brutal world? Or, will you unlearn what you were taught and center real values? Will you do the brave thing as I have, let good people in and build what's been stolen from you?
I can't answer that for you.
All I can do is hope you choose to stand for something founded in love, that can't be bought, and is worth fighting for. Those are the values that nurture communities. The values that push back against injustice for all people.
The values that let Good Win.