There is a duality happening in this current state of affairs. A kind of us against them sentiment that is reflected in our memes. Women are asking men to be accountable, men are frustrated because they would like women back off about feminism. There are women mad at women for being feminists because it alienates men. Then, there are the college educated who can’t believe that Trump would ever be a viable option for president and there are working class folks who hate Obama for his educated mumbo-jumbo. There are health nuts believing the need for hospitals stems from pesticides, while hospitals are feeding patients GMO iceberg lettuce. There are underweight militant vegans, overweight meat-eating McDonald’s heads, Buddhists on blankets in meditation not questioning the possibility that their truth is just that- their truth. There are Christians who believe Muslims are evil people who only want to subjugate women and Muslin’s who believe that the United States is a threat to their way of life and religion. Some folks want a wall because they want to protect American citizens from the perceived war-like state of affairs in Mexico. While, environmentalists believe that the wall will harm migration patterns of wildlife, activists leave water for the thousands of people crossing the border each year, gun-obsessed militia shoot holes in their efforts. What the hell is going on? Should we cut off the tip of our son’s penis or stick forty-nine doses of vaccines into our babies by the age of two or what? Should we repent to Jesus and serve our men or destroy the rich to save the poor?
We are asked daily, do Black Lives Matter, all lives matter, white lives matter? Are we the 99%? Are we the victims of terror or are we perpetrating terror? I get fifty emails a day from people needing money to fight this or that fight. It’s a world wide web of people typing from soap boxes. Some of us think that words should be carefully considered so not to alienate specific groups of people, some of us defend the right to speak freely believing that putting limitations on words alienates these specific groups of people. There are people fighting oppression and people who have no idea what “fighting oppression” even means. Its almost as if there is so much passion being flung around that there is no more passion at all. Or perhaps the class disparity in this country is such that anti-intellectual tribes have formed and its evidence is represented in the memes posted on social media.
It borderlines psychotic. It’s staggering in its complexity. We are inundated with conflicting information. Part of the problem is, whatever your flavor, you can find a information source that not only backs up your opinion but justifies it as being the only right way to think. What once was a council fire, where our ancestors gathered to share story, is now a computer screen. Where we can click enough ideas into our heads to justify deep layers of information without having to face each other. When we do face each other it is usually with a drink or bible or yoga mat in tow, depending on the individuals perceived conception of salvation. Each group identifying so precisely with their own dogma that they often believe fully in what their identified group believes. Not only that, but there is a tendency to believe that their thing is the thing. The universal band-aid for the ailing world. The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Liberalism is a mental illness.” On the internet artist make statues fat shaming trump. I see Bernie or Bust people raging on the unfairness of democracy. I see cops who lives have been ruined by their jobs and minorities whose lives have been ended with bullet holes and blood by cops. I see yoga teachers unwilling to connect with commoners and punks with ciggies in their hands scoffing at yogis.
We are angry. For sure. But we are also complacent in our confusion. And maybe we are fighting too much. Or not enough. I keep checking Facebook for answers, like maybe the collective discovery is in the scroll down. There are some good articles there to back up my thing. And I am nullified in knowing that my belief system in reflected in my personal council fire, my solo stare, my information highway. The computer tells me the world is scary out there and our media is sure to keep us all informed. Fear is what’s feeding this duality and as long as we are all convinced the other is the culprit then what matter is reconciliation?
I was taught what it means to love by a somewhat racist, republican, uneducated working-class grandfather, who believes the wall should come up, women should do what men say and Obama may just be the devil. My Grandfather loved me when I was a stripper, he washed vomit off my car when I was a junkie, he scraped me off the sidewalk of my disastrous choices more times than I can count. He wants what most of us want, peace, healthcare, television, pizza. I have learned that I can fight about equality with him till we are both pounding our fists on the table in a battle of dogma and wits, then at the end of the day when I leave, all that matters is that we love and respect each other. We just do. And I know he is a good person and he wants good in the world. And he believes the path to goodness is paved with Jesus, good ole boys and McDonald’s. He trusts. He trusts in the establishment. He is a good man. He raised his children, he worked his forty years and retired, he believed in the system and it worked (more or less) for him.
Belief, faith and hope are these intangible concepts that keep us unwavering in our personal brand of truth. Fact is a concept created by science that invalidates the unseen and unmeasured. The First Amendment gives us all the basic freedom of tethered belief in whatever we damn well please. Science seems to think it’s more valid than faith. While faith discredits science. History was written by victorious men and just because it was invented doesn’t mean its better. I miss the council fire I never knew. The one that was hot and burning, the one where I was supported by my elders and we all had a shared reality not based in chronic individualism. Of course that fantasy is just that, nostalgia for a bygone era where I perceive peace. This present moment in which I live sometimes, this place where we are supposed to be so much more connected than ever in time, it’s often lonely and y’all know it. It’s a screen and it’s flat. I don’t have many answers so I write into this question. The quest for conversation, questioning this place, this viral intoxication.