Why It Scares Me

Yeah, maybe some of us aren’t giant pieces of shit. But it’s becoming clear to met that most Americans are.

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I spent much of my Sunday reading articles, arguments and accounts about how to handle fascists. Honestly, I’m still kind of shell-shocked. I didn’t know Richard Spencer until I saw the gif’s of him getting punched in the face by the black bloc. And honestly, I really don’t like I do know who that human piece of shit is. That someone brought him to life and allowed him to grow up to be who and what he is appalls me. My mother would cold clock me if I turned out like that.

The fact that it is 2017 and we are talking about fascism and fascists, that websites exist in feasible form, that they are accessed regularly, espousing the extinction of black people scares me. The most vivid memory I have in my life comes from when I was in college. I was working at a photo development store. I was helping an older gentleman pick up photos of his grandkids. Maybe they were even his great grand kids. On his forearm was tattooed a number. The reality of this stopped me in my tracks. I did everything I could not to cry. It would have felt disrespectful. I took the bills from his hand, gave him change and his photos and thanked him.

I have no idea how many people I have met that not only lived through the holocaust but also survived it. I’d never felt guilty about having tattoos in my life, but in that moment I felt like I was mocking this man’s survival. Still to this day, I etch the dumbest things I can into my skin. Anything to remind me that this life is temporary and so too this body. And I know for me tattoos are a way of rendering a body I am not comfortable in as a means of control. But part of me also knows that anyone can take my body with enough force and do whatever they want to it.

I don’t want to have a number etched in my skin. Except for the one I have already chosen, 42, which suits me as the answer to the meaning of life, no one shall ever etch a number on my skin. I knew that day what that number meant, I knew where that old man had been and what dignities and hell he suffered. I could not commiserate with any of his past and I was too humble to ask. But I was not unfamiliar with fascism and what that looked like.

We joke about what we do if we were the supreme ruler. I make jokes that I would turn all football team uniforms pink and make us admit how homoerotic of a nation we are. I tell people who were it up to me Devo would be the only music allowed to be played in shopping centers and malls. But in all honesty, as funny as I think that would be, having that much power actually scares me. So I hate the NFL and capitalism. Big deal. The truth is, I don’t want anyone in charge. I want to work in communities and make decisions based on consensus for the good of everyone. Even if you worship a make-believe sky character or  like the Cowboys, I still think you should be allowed to live peacefully and comfortably and be cared for should you fall ill or be injured. And even though I think Devo rules, no one should be forced to listen to them every time they leave their house. Unless we all agree that would be awesome.

I’m angry as hell that we are nearing the 100 year mark of WWII and we haven’t progressed a god damn bit in the larger sense. Yeah, maybe some of us aren’t giant pieces of shit. But it’s becoming clear to met that most Americans are. I have been from one side of this country to the other, top to bottom. I have met people from many walks of life. I have seen the Red Wood Forest, I have touched the Gulf Stream Waters, I have driven through the endless miles of Golden Valleys. I have been adrift in rivers in Oklahoma, I have walked the marshes of Florida, hiked mountains in California and Virginia. I have swum naked in Walden Pond. I love this country. I love this country so much. It’s a paradise with such great diversity in so many ways. I have slept on the floors of friends and strangers alike in my near 40 years and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.

Terrible things occurred to make this country happen. Millions of people were and continue to be colonized. People were enslaved to enrich wealth and maintain property.Others were vilified and kicked off their lands. People were placed in concentration camps due to suspicion. America has done terrible things to be what it is. We have to also undo this. This will take work and humility and forgiveness and listening. It will mean sacrifice and it will hurt, even those of us who recognize this.

But I am scared that we are allowing the rich and mighty, the privileged white, the bankers and corporations and governors to take this away. I get that people are scared. I get that they think someone else will solve the problems and don’t realize it’s the same people causing the problems that they are putting their trust in. And I am afraid that everything I have fallen in love with about being an American and living in what very well should be the greatest, most loving country in the world is going to be taken away.

And I fear the most that well-meaning people who also feel this in their hearts won’t actually fight for it until it is too late.