The narrative we have been fed is that humans are the strongest animal, destined to rule, but even we are inherently flawed. Our disposition is toward war; our greed is insurmountable. We play out this narrative because we are the sum of the stories we have been told. We put on a soldier costume and kill because that is how it is written. How it was written.
I spend all day reading. Even when I’m at work, I am reading because I suddenly have infinite capacity for multitasking. It’s really true, what they say, about always being able to find time for the things that matter to you.
The sense of urgency is borderline painful; how can I do anything but read? How can I spend my time doing anything but learning about what is happening and learning how to distinguish the bullshit from the truth. I can hardly keep up with the news. What is news?
I read about the Senate Democrats boycotting two of Trump’s cabinet nominees: they simply did not show up to the vote. Oh, wait, the President of the Senate disregarded the rules, it doesn’t matter if any Democrats attended or not.
I read about the falsely labeled “mass resignations” of almost all of the senior staff at the State Department, leaving it essentially unstaffed during the president’s first weeks. They were, in fact, intentionally removed by the White House.
I see that the Trump Administration now gets its own tab on The Guardian’s website.
I read that Sean Spencer, the White House Press Secretary, in the latest “is-that-even-his-job?” moment, unironically retweeted a satirical article about himself from the Onion. This moment is covered by US Weekly. Is this news?
I open a new browser tab and only have to type “h-” before the Huffington Post website pops up. The alarmist red caption on their homepage echos old sentiments. I click back up to the address bar and type “alj-” and Al Jazeera news fills the screen. I have to scroll before I see something about the U.S. Good, I think. This means that the entire world hasn’t ended yet. There are still worse, more important crises. Thank god for the Ukrainian-Russian war? No, that’s not right. Thank god for… uh.
* * * * *
I remember learning about Republicans and Democrats in middle school. The differences, we were taught, came in the form of differences in opinion over how large of a role the government should play in our lives, who the nation should trade with, the best way to make citizens smarter… Yet as an adult I can now see that demographically, Republicans and Democrats live among different kinds of people, and that is where the differences begin.
Some people live in a sterile bubble, where their coworkers, friends, and family all look and think like them, like a self-imposed social experiment. Questions are unnecessary because everything works out well given the way things are. The only fear is loss of the status quo. I now see how easy it would be to confuse opinion and fact in such an environment. I lived and thought like that too, for 18 years, but I surely I never told someone else that their struggle was not real just because I didn’t see it…but maybe I thought it inside my head. Maybe I never actually saw someone struggle.
Some people live in a dark ocean, where new neighbors float by looking like nothing you’ve seen before, and the unique intricacies of each family requires explanation. You watch entire species form and be destroyed. Someone states an opinion and they are countered with, even if only for sport. A fact is given and proof is requested, for practice at the very least. It is easy to think that nothing is true here. The quest for new information is infinite and impossible to attain. The only fear is oppressing fellow humans. I live here now.
I try to remember the steps between now and then, to figure out how I got here. I wish there was a turning point, a single phrase or moment that I could repeat to others who haven’t gotten it yet. I think of how much I had to read before I even began to understand that a nervous white man will always kill an already dying brown man. I think of how I used to use the word “ghetto” without knowing what its dictionary definition was. I think about how much fear I had to see in the eyes of others to even begin to understand what fear itself was.
We put on a caring citizen costume and claim to be working on it but when we go home we see the soldier in the mirror. How can we rewrite the story of man? I don’t know how to address this because I don’t know how to get people to say “black lives matter.” I don’t know how to explain to anti-refugee voters that no one intentionally leaves their homeland, unless the threat of death is imminent. How did I step from the bubble to the ocean, and is the ocean even the right place to be? I don’t know how to bridge the gap between fear and logic; that’s what I’m trying to do.
I feel anger well up in my stomach and my face gets hot. Lord, help, thinks the atheist.
Image by Pete Souza