The Reality Institute

Why-to use a lot of emojis on Twitter:

While there are no foreign bases on U.S. soil, the United States currently has over 800 bases located in over 70 countries. Other nations, like Russia, the U.K., and Japan, have about 30 in total, giving the U.S. 95 percent of the world’s share of bases. There are also 138 countries where US special operators are currently located, about  70 percent of the nations on the planet. There are also an unknown number of secret U.S. military prisons, where prisoners are routinely tortured, violating the terms of the Geneva Convention and the United States’ own laws and constitution.

Meanwhile, robotic planes and other weapons from the U.S. are used to regularly assault military and civilian populations in operations across roughly seven nations (the number of wars the U.S. is fighting is even difficult to pin down, due to the exact definition of “war”). In Iraq alone, almost 200,000 civilians have been killed since the start of the second Iraq war in 2003. On top of the deaths caused by direct violence, the U.S. is also involved in destroying key civilian infrastructure that leads to further deaths by lack of clean water and  lack of electricity for refrigerating food and medicine, which could bring the civilian fatalities up to half a million or more.

At home, the U.S. is guilty of violence against its own citizens as well. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any other nation on the planet, including developed democracies and totalitarian regimes. Most of the U.S.’s individual states even have higher incarceration rates than most countries. Black people are incarcerated at rates five times higher than whites and, when it comes to drug offenses, six times higher than whites.

Police violence continues unchecked, particularly against black people. At least 963 people were shot by police last year and, despite the existence of explicit footage of police murdering non-threatening victims, the number of police convicted of murder or manslaughter between 2005 and 2015 was just 13.

Across the country, states are cutting access to essential women’s health services by criminalizing abortion and shutting down abortion facilities. So far, in 2017, 11 states have adopted measures that restrict abortion, three states have passed measures to restrict public funding of family planning services, and the President has promised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Unlike other developed nations, the U.S. has no paid maternity leave, something that the International Monetary Fund believes contributes to the country’s 14 percent poverty rate. Despite the fact that the United States has experienced economic growth since 1979 and productivity has increased by 79 percent, wages of the bottom 90 percent of the population have only increased by 15 percent. Wages for the top 1 percent, however, have increased by 138 percent, CEOs make 300 times what they pay their employees, and only 8 people own half of the world’s wealth.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has doubled its arrests of immigrants and private prisons, meant to be closed under Obama, have been reopened under Trump. While in these prisons, immigrants are forced to perform manual labor for $1 to $0 a day, a violation of federal anti-slavery laws. Conditions are so bad that prisoners have performed hunger strikes, while stocks in private prisons that control these facilities have practically doubled.

In 2016, the U.S. saw 22 trans people murdered, the highest number yet recorded in a single year during the country’s history. Already in 2017, there have been 15 trans people killed.  In 2014, LGBTQ people were more likely to be the victims of hate crimes than any other minority group, according to the FBI. LGBTQ youth account for 20-40% of the 1.6 million homeless youth in the U.S. due to family rejection, discrimination and violence. This has caused 1 in 5 transgender youth to have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

As this occurs, the planet is quickly heating up. This year, we’ve already seen the Global Seed Vault, buried deep in a mountain located in the Arctic Circle and thought to be almost entirely impenetrable, start to melt. One of the largest glaciers in recorded history recently broke off of the coast of Antarctica, anticipated to cause an almost 3 millimeter rise in the global sea level. Every year is the warmest year on record and scientists now believe that it may be impossible to return CO2 levels to below the 400 ppm mark in our lifetime, signaling a future of uncontrollable wildfires, disastrous storms, and numerous other types of extreme weather.

Even the game show host’s predecessor was, in many ways, a failure. Only one individual was imprisoned for the illegal activities that caused the 2008 financial collapse. Though the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid in some states, there are currently 28 million people without health insurance and it’s been estimated that this will result in 320,000 deaths from preventable causes over the next decade. Despite mild efforts, President Obama was never able to shut down Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners are held indefinitely without trial and force fed when protesting their conditions.

Possibly the one positive outcome of his eight years in office came in the final months, when he pardoned Chelsea Manning. Manning, in some ways, may be the definition of the modern era: a trans whistleblower imprisoned for warning the world about the effects of capitalist-driven U.S. imperialism.

After turning herself in for the theft of classified military information, which included footage of U.S. soldiers joyfully shooting innocent civilians from a helicopter like detached gamers, she was imprisoned for seven years. During that time, Manning was held in solitary confinement for nearly a year at one point. She ultimately tried to kill herself twice. 

Though the world’s richest and most powerful country recently elected a former game show host, who has openly bragged about sexual assault, as its leader, Manning is free. And, as a free woman, she has become one of the most positive aspects of Twitter, even topping such accounts as @BodegaCats and @WeRateDogs. As she engages in normal civilian activities, like eating pizza and hanging out, she garners huge retweets of joy from her followers.

More recently, Manning has taken to an unbridled use of emojis:

The icons range from rainbows, hearts and smileys complementing quotidian  messages about going to bed or touring New York, to police cars and detective emojis used to reinforce calls for dismantling the military police state. She even employs them when getting into online spats with conservative weirdos, like 5’3” Ben Shapiro.

In fact, the activist uses emoji so much that she even tweeted an explainer on how to use them:

The colorful icons that pepper her tweets, sometimes followed by her hashtag #WeGotThis, seem to symbolize a profound optimism in the face of unimaginable circumstances on Earth. Somehow, after all that she experienced, Manning manages to reflect back onto the world an unending positivity. Maybe it’s because of what she experienced that she manages to now see the world she occupies as a free woman as, in contrast, a good one.  

If you’re like me, you might find yourself thinking about every single horrible thing that the +7 billion of us are facing on the planet right now. But then you might then see someone like Chelsea Manning—a woman who just spent seven years in a military prison—post a series of bright, colorful and often happy cartoons and, all of a sudden, you’re filled with the comfort of knowing that, in spite of everything #WeGotThis.

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