I refuse to do this again. I refuse to do the dance and song. I refuse to allow the cracks in my world to grow bigger. I refuse to allow myself to add more fear and hate to the burden I am already carrying. I refuse to be a piece in someone’s puzzle. I refuse to be part of an agenda. I refuse to be afraid and angry.
It’s easier for me, I think. I’m constantly afraid already. I’m anxious and paranoid. I’m worried that one thing or another is about to catch fire around me. I’m afraid of nature. I’m afraid of people. I’m afraid of interstates. I’m afraid of gas station bathrooms. I’m afraid that I’m useless. I’m afraid that I’ll die alone, buried under a collapsing pile of energy drink cans. I’m afraid that one day, I’ll reach for that little grey pill. I’m afraid that one day, I won’t be too afraid to let go. I am afraid of a lot of things. I’m used to fear.
I wear it well. It is my old friend.
I live in a country where being able to be afraid of the things I’m afraid of are a luxury. I am blessed and extremely fortunate to live where I live. I don’t have to worry about being murdered in the street. I don’t have to be afraid of being dragged out of my bed and beaten to death. I don’t have to worry about my family and friends being forced into slave labor camps. I don’t have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from. I don’t have to worry about sleeping on a dirt floor. I don’t have to worry about my water giving me cholera.
I get to make decisions for myself. Good or Bad. Victory or Failure. I have the amazingly rare opportunity to make that decision on my own. No matter what happens in my life, I have that ability.
Across the world, very few people have that basic right.
I truly am blessed.
Which is Why, I HAVE TO BE BETTER.
I live a life of comfort and ease compared to the majority of the world. The deck might be stacked against me here, but I can still take the pot if I try hard enough, if I play the game right. I’ve spent my entire life being complacent. Worse, I’ve spent my entire life being unsatisfied. I think that is probably the truth to being American. We are never happy with what we have. We never accept our blessings. We’ve been told to never settle. We’ve been trained to believe we’re the best and deserve the best.
Alright, if we’re the best, then why are we so damned petty?
If We’re the “Greatest Nation in the World,” then why are we so damn small minded?
If We’re the “Shining Defenders of Democracy,” then why are we so oppressive?
If We’re the “Global Cultural Hub,” then WHY IS OUR CULTURE SO DAMN TOXIC?
Because we allow it to be.
Because we’re children playing dress up in our parent’s closet.
Because we’re spoiled.
This isn’t going to be a popular message on a day when my country is rallying around the idea that a people are inherently evil. It’s hard to come through a cloud of anger and fear. It’s hard to be heard above the din and chaos when you refuse to shout in anger. It’s hard to counter the effect of the dishonest with simple faith and compassion.
It takes one step, then another.
We have to be better.
I refuse to be part of the problem. I refuse to spread lies and hatred. I refuse to contribute to a culture obsessed with its own image. I refuse to repeat what I’m told because I’m told I’m just a parrot. I refuse to add to the confusion, chaos, anger, and fear. I will not be a pawn in the game of voices. I will not listen to shadows.
It has to be a conscious effort.
It will be work.
It is hard to stand against your own instincts. It is hard to not be a lemming.
I apologize now to the friends I will lose.
I want you to know that I am not judging you for your indulgences. When I turn away from you, it isn’t because I think you are below me. I do not blame you for refusing to carry a burden that is much harder to bear than the one you already have.
I’m not trying to make you feel inferior.
I am trying to be better.
A better person.
A better citizen.
A better me.
Because I can’t live in a world of fear anymore.