Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Originally published on Medium in 2018.
For as long as I can remember, I have written. I’ve written for the pure and simple joy that I feel when I string words together, I’ve written because I like to do it and I have done it at times because it feels meaningful to me in times when I have been unable to find meaning.
You guys. I am struggling to find meaning right now. I have reached an age at which I am no longer able to make excuses, or look past certain things, nor can I ignore them. I truly feel as if we are experiencing a crisis, one on which everything we know, accept and believe is being questioned- but maybe that’s just me….and yet, I don’t think it is.
I work hard. I love hard. I think Really Fucking Hard. I do all the right things. Or, at least the things I thought were right. I’m not concerned about the color of people’s skin, who they sleep with or what they use to do so. Do I have curiosity about certain things? Yes. Do I judge them? I don’t think I do, and I recognize that not everyone’s experience is even close to my own. And this is where I struggle most. It seems that in our current climate, we are not able to see that not everyone will have had the same experience as us, and so, we go to war with words against people to prove points that have virtually no merit, simply because we have no idea what it means to walk in the other person’s shoes- and rather than think about that, we just start spouting off. It’s easier. It’s lets us off the hook. There’s no responsibility to be had for adding to ugly rhetoric if we think it has no impact on our own day to day life.
But, it does. I’m gonna start with something personal: “Cultural appropriation is nonsense and I hate that crap.” This is insensitive and self-serving. It’s racism. And I have heard it said out loud. Here’s another: “I care about what a candidate can do for my family and that’s what’s most important to me.” Valid on its surface, but a little scratching away at the surface reveals that without the family that has certain needs, consideration for them would be nil. And I gotta tell ya, if there’s anything that having a family member with different needs has taught me, it’s that….well, we all have different needs, everyone is different and ya know, if I didn’t consider that my own brother was not the only one wearing his shoes and others might have similar needs, I’d feel kinda gross.
I have walked this planet for 49 years. And in that time, I have worked alongside Muslims at a time being Muslim was even less popular than it is now. You know what I learned from them? That commitment and diligence to an ethos or religion was admirable, even if it was different from mine, and this is the same for every religion I have ever had the opportunity to experience, however briefly. I’ve gone to Southern Baptist churches, Unitarian churches, Protestant churches and Catholic churches (which I grew up in, but no longer identify with) and here’s what I can tell you: I respect you. I believe you. But, I do not think Jesus or any other diety will save us. WE have to do that. WE have to say that we will examine our own thoughts and then act accordingly. WE have to say that we will stand by whatever comes out of our mouths in the heat of the moment. So, you wanna joke about cultural appropriation? Please, feel free, but know it does nothing to advance our relationship and says more to me about you than any soothing comment ever could. Misunderstand civil rights movements? Absolutely your right, but I am not sticking around for surface-knowledge BS. I am also just not about JC. I require evidence at this point in my life.
And this should have nothing to do with politics. It should have everything to do with who we think we are, and who we want to be. But, it seems that apart from what the media spews at us, or maybe because of, we aren’t able to separate the two. I think that’s sad. So, clearly, I am a snowflake, a libtard. Well, okay. If you feel the need to label me, please do. But, here’s what I will tell you: (and if you are a thinking person, perhaps you’ll go “hmmm”. If not, you’ll probably tell me to kill myself because I have nothing to offer, but whatever.) In my life, (and I think it quite an ordinary one) I have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet people from different cultures and to love and live with one. I am deeper and richer because of that. And I do understand that not everyone has the same experience. But when I look back on my earliest experiences: those with my brother, I am able to extrapolate- to pull common threads out and recognize that not everyone’s experience will be the same. But, adversity is adversity. And not recognizing it in one, while acknowledging it in another, simply because it suits your needs is not enough. The challenges my brother has faced made me extremely aware of what the world sees and does. And how adversity, in whatever form, makes it hard to achieve the things our society values most: financial success, status and most importantly: fitting in and feeling a part of.
I live a pretty charmed fucking life. Maybe that makes me less credible, I don’t know. What I do know is this: We all have our battles, our demons, our fights. If we are unable to see that the person next to us is fighting his own- and that though they may be different, the themes are often similar, we have already lost. Being human is hard. Accepting the humanity of another should not be harder. Empathy is tough. But it is the one thing capable of uniting us. I will choose it every time. Libtard that I am.
And now that I have gotten this off my chest, perhaps I’ll be able to get back to writing about dogs. But, I am worried about us. And so, I will likely toss and turn next to the warm, brown human and the dog of mixed lineage with the blocky head, who scares so many hoping that the person with whom I share the most history with is not toyed with or hurt emotionally, simply because it’s easy.
This is me. This is America.