"You cannot drive out hate with rage." - Joseph Pinion
Let's talk about America.
A year ago almost to the day, the nation got into an uproar because one man whom we had placed at celebrity status uttered a word that is used every minute of every minute somewhere, and suddenly we didn't like it. This is where we are: we want change and we want it now. We don't want to work for it though. We'll yell, scream and stamp our feet all over the internet, we'll show up to the sudden resurgence of rallies and fly our hypocrisies like big, bright flags in the sky. We'll condemn the world around us, refuse to own our part in it and fail to make change from within.
It's the American way.
The past few weeks have been exhausting. I have friends in Vegas, and friends all over Napa and Sonoma counties. Some walked away unscathed, albeit a bit frightened or disconcerted. Then, on the wave of these tragedies, along comes the hashtag that became a gendered battle cry that was essentially a party that I wasn't invited to because I had a different interpretation.
You see, we're all about inclusion... until it affects us in a personal way. Then it becomes my way or the highway. This isn't new. We've always been birds in our flocks, but mostly because we didn't talk about all of this stuff with each other. We waited until we could talk behind the backs of everyone we knew like proper neighbors do.
We are so far removed from our beginnings, it's like a tragic comedy. If only we had Shakespeare around to document all of it. Oh, wait... he did that already. He looked into the future of the world and gave us the perpetual script. There are two books that rule this planet; the Bible, and the collected works of old Bill. We broke up with the parents because we wanted to rebel, to be our own person and not live under tyranny. I can't help but wonder how John and George and Tom would react to our current culture.
Frankly, I think they'd call us a bunch of pussies.
Do I sound jaded? I don't mean to portray only that. It's taken me a long time to get to a place of balance - to not lose sight of the good despite the immense amount of bad. That's actually what makes it so much sweeter. I'm proud of my want to see all the shades of any issue at hand, because hate gets me nowhere. As every day passes, however, it isn't so much our leadership that has me embarrassed - it's us, or U.S.. People do not rise to power all on their own. We need to really examine how this came about and do it with some degree of impartiality and a smidgen of compassion.
And we need to stopppppp being so damn angry with each other.
I am not a "gender traitor" because I feel that everyone should be heard. I am just fine with being a snowflake because no two crystals are the same. If I'm a "libtard," then I guess I'm tard happy. If I lean conservative sometimes, that's okay too because rules and policy aren't always a bad thing but can't they be instituted without malice? Maybe I'm the commie that my husband jokes about. And if I am ostracized for having a loud voice and a different way to seeing things, I'll be sad about it sometimes but then have to remember that differences are what bring the best of us together. They were not the best that I can do.
The America that I know is indeed the melting pot; we are made up of boys and girls and in between, we are loud and shy, racist and tolerant, gullible and greedy. We worship sports and celebrity and let our teachers live in squalor. We complain about the price of a movie or a song, until we're on the receiving end of the art and find ourselves telling others it's a small price to pay. We are gay and we are ridiculously homophobic. We are narrow minded while we beg to be understood. We are rednecks and white trash and we are ghetto too. We will step over the starving on our way to the fanciest eateries in the nation. We are a people of hypocrisy, of creativity, of power and we are a people of irony. This trying to neutralize everyone is a ridiculous absurdity.
I didn't want to go out today, to get out of my bed, get dressed and be in the world. As I often do, I thought nobody would even miss me anyway. Then I walked into one of my favorite haunts, and immediately Miguel came gliding over with a big smile and after exchanging hellos he said "you made my day just by showing up! No kidding, I saw you walking in and thought there's my friend and it was like this great cap to the day." He asked Jared to take care of me, and indeed he did. Jared and I talked about big banks and little problems and mused why do people fight each other over the small things? He even preached to me a little in a very unGod-like way. "I subscribe to the surfer's philosophy; it doesn't matter where it comes from, or when. All we can do is ride the wave." He leaned in to whisper, "... and maybe smoke a joint to get us on our way. Am I right? You got to find your peace." His laugh was warm and inviting, and reminded me why I choose to be in this space.
These people do more than bring me iced tea or tolerate my Sally-like food orders. They make the lines at the store a little bit shorter, they make the post office not so dreary. They wave a hello, they remember my name or they ask how they can help and don't always limit it to their work. They share their lives with me, and they enrich mine. I see them over the years grow up into people who change our world little by little.
They're the fabric of my America.
It's a love/hate thing, but I choose to accept every acre of it.