The exhortation “learn to code!” has its foundations in market value. “Learn to code” is suggested as a way up, a way out. “Learn to code” offers economic leverage, a squirt of power. “Learn to code” goes on your resume.
But let’s substitute a different phrase: “learn to cook.” People don’t only learn to cook so they can become chefs. Some do! But far more people learn to cook so they can eat better, or more affordably, or in a specific way. Or because they want to carry on a tradition. Sometimes they learn just because they’re bored! Or even because—get this—they love spending time with the person who’s teaching them.
The list of reasons to “learn to cook” overflows, and only a handful have anything to do with the marketplace. This feels natural; anyone who has ever, like… eaten a meal… of any kind… recognizes that cooking is marbled deeply into domesticity and comfort, nerdiness and curiosity, health and love.
Well, it’s the 21st century now, and I suspect that many of the people you love are waiting inside the pocket computer you are never long without, so I will gently suggest that coding might be marbled the same way.
People born after the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements inherited an expanding liberal democracy. But this whole “liberal democracy” thing is fairly new.
Before the rapid changes of the 1950s and 1960s, racial discrimination was legal. There were no laws against sexual harassment. Etc. I’ve seen people in a spin and panic saying “Things have never been this bad in America! OMG we’re losing everything and we’re in autocracy!”
I suspect the words “things have never been this bad” aren’t said by African American women with a sense of their own history. Think of what life was like for most black women in America in 1850. She didn’t own her own body, literally.
All the great progressive heroes (MLK, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Susan B. Anthony, etc. etc.) fought the same battles against the same forces. After Trump loses in November, his supporters are not going to fold up shop and learn to love liberal democracy.
They’ll keep plotting and trying to seize the steering wheel and turn us backwards again. Progressives push forward. Reactionaries push back. It never ends. I advise people not to go down “what if” rabbit holes because we cannot predict what turns the fight will take.