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Editor John Baker finds so much that is missing in society right now in full bloom at Rose City Comic Con

In a country divided, I have found togetherness. In a nation where a large chunk of the population is uninterested in reality, I have found a fantasy that spawns a reality of togetherness.

In a world where nerds and geeks draw little respect, and more than their fair share of criticism, I have found a lasting truth.

The nerd/geek culture of this country has it figured out — and we'd all do well to heed their example.

PMG PHOTO: RUTH REIS - Herald-Pioneer editor John Baker (left) enjoys a little fun with a Fred Flinstone cosplayer during this year's Rose City Comic Con.

My latest foray to Rose City Comic Con, after a four-year absence, confirmed what I'd thought years ago — hardcore Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives — don't have a clue about bridging divides. But I know who does — nerds.

Last weekend I spent three days at Portland's Convention Center to partake of another Rose City Comic Con and reveled in it. Standing in the midst of booths and an array of creativity from all ages and ethnic spectrums, I was struck by the large volume of smiles and unbridled happiness that seemed to surround me on all sides. It was uplifting and much needed.

Within the comic con realm, skin color, race, religion, socioeconomics, political leanings, tall, short, thin, overweight or any combination of those things — and many more — simply don't register. Everyone is happy to see you and to see you lean into whatever "thing" you are dialing up for the event.

PMG PHOTO: JOHN BAKER - J'Dean Meisner of Silverton gets a warm welcome from an attendee in a cosplay outfit that is both intricate and ornate during this year's Rose City Comic Con.

These people are about joy, about togetherness and about diverse people coming together to celebrate something unique — their uniqueness. Oh, if they only grasped how special they and the event are.

In short, they are better than those who seek to divide us. And they get little respect or understanding. And that's yet another mistake we could, as a nation, do much better at correcting. From cosplay to comic creators and artists, there is joy and excitement about the possibilities of life.

Wouldn't we all be better off with that attitude? The answer seems simple to me, but my nerd flag flies high.

I attend a couple "cons" each year and have done so for the last decade. It has not only been an eye-opening experience, but one that has taught me a great deal about what makes and keeps me healthy mentally. And Rose City Comic Con offers the mountaintop experience that leaves me feeling alive and well.

PMG PHOTO: JOHN BAKER - A group of cosplayers get ready to enter the main floor during this year's Rose City Comic Con in Portland.

I know this joy in nerdom because I'm one of them. And I have become completely convinced that simply letting yourself go and enjoy the colors, art, creativity and overall fun vibe of a comic con isn't simply about fun, but about something deeper, something healthy.

I never feel better than I do in the aftermath of a comic con, which I thought was strange early on. Now I know better. It's a lifestyle that is healthier than most. And it's the people I'm around that create that. What a blessing.

Events like Rose City Comic Con deliver a euphoric ride that provides me a healthy perspective on the world around me and the people who are in it — even those who don't reside in the world of positivity.

Let's face it, we live in a world now that encourages us to take the intellectual path of least resistance — the lowest hanging, easy to understand fruit. We like things simple, easy to process and that support our own agendas and preconceived notions. I find that mind-set reinforced nearly every day and shake my head in wonder at how constricting that kind of mentality truly is.

At this year's Rose City Comic Con, I was reminded of the joys of complexity, the thrill of the unknown, and the emotional and physical enjoyment in discovering the out-of-the-box creations of others — be they a graphic novel, a piece of DC art or someone doing a cosplay mash-up of two distinctively different comic/anime/movie genres.

It's here, among the geek and nerd brothers and sisters, that I see the potential of us all on display in a way I don't see anywhere else. We talk inclusion, acceptance and love, but the roadblocks of practicing that acceptance seem too steep and often have agendas attached to them. We simply don't want it bad enough.

That type of mentality doesn't exist at Rose City Comic Con.

So, it would seem that in this time of strife, divide and small-minded silliness, the nerds, geeks and pop culture fans have things figured pretty nicely. As it turns out, love and acceptance come with a nice little addendum — fun.


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