Evolve, and let the chips fall where they may.
I like to imagine that we live in a world where things are not really as bad as they seem. That the conspiracies theories are all fiction and that the are no strings to be pulled. That the world in which we live isn’t as scary as we think and people really aren’t as awful as we think. Sounds naive, I’m sure, but if you really sit down and think about it, we’re not that bad off.
Look, we’ve done some pretty shitty things as a country. Hell, watch any documentary about the Vietnam war, or really anything on the US involvement in the Pacific theater. It’s pretty hard to be proud to be an American when you really take into the account some of the things we’ve done in the name of spreading Democracy. However when you consider that we’ve been a nation for less than 300 years, there’s room for forgiveness. We’re going through the same phase of conquering that any empire faces. Ya, we’ve certainly raped and pillaged our way across the world, we just had the misfortune going through the process during a time of unprecedented military capabilities. The Industrial revolution, the atomic age, the birth of the information age. We’ve acted reckless and irresponsibly for much of our national existence, even our revolution created global repercussions. I’d argue though, if the Romans had access to nukes there would be a lot more people speaking Italian these days. We’ve done a lot of bad bad things, even within our borders. Slavery and oppression of basic rights has been our albatross from day one.
With the information age, it can be easy to believe that we are the great Satan. We can look at all the really deplorable things we inflict upon ourselves. Let’s talk about the argument over the Confederate flag. Not the issue of the flag itself, but the fact that the argument exists at all. It could be a conversation where people state their thesis, then others would chime in and we would then discuss the pros and cons of the matter and then we’d either come to agreement or agree to disagree. That only works when you believe in the right to freedom of expression. Instead, we have people who are rooted in their opinion, they go into the “discussion” with the intent to be heard but with little interest in hearing. I’m not going to get into why I am for or against a symbol because the semantics are too great. And I am certainly not going to make a case whether or not to ban the flag. None of that is the point and honestly it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what the controversy represents. We’re ignoring a much bigger issue here, which is nobody knows how to be an American.
Ok so I guess I will get a little into the fray. I want to touch on people comparing banning the Confederate flag to Germany’s choice to ban the swastika. America is not Germany. Also, and correct me if I’m wrong, but the Germans did not ban the swastika. The Allies did that. See, when a war is ended, there’s a very messy clean up that has to happen. The reason WWII even happened is because Germany got fucked in WWI, left basically bankrupt, on the verge of unrest and with a vast power vacuum. When a charismatic man began gaining political influence, the Nazis snatched him up, put him right in front, and gave him a microphone. Kind of the George W. Bush of post WWI era Deutschland. At the end of the war, The Allied Forces had to do what they thought was in the best interests of preventing the next war. We’ve been “preventing” wars ever since. Germany’s doing fine now, and everyone wants to point to them banning a symbol like that’s what suddenly erased all hatred and fear from their culture. No, that took enough people working together as a culture, agreeing to what the German identity would be, and cooperating with each other to become top of its various industries and educational systems.
That sort of common idea, common goal, isn’t present in the American culture. For one thing, what is the American dream?
The ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.
I had to google that. I tried, but I couldn’t give you a definition that didn’t have my own person desires baked into it. From the day we are born, we’re conditioned to believe we can be anyone or anything we want. Then one day we wake up to realize the reality of that dream, that you can only get there as long as you’re willing to compete for it. Or if you’re lucky enough to have it as birth right. And if you’re not a competitor, or lucky, or if you spent your whole life believing that being a good person was good enough, it’s a pretty rude awakening. In fact, it can drive one to kill, and people have gotten pretty good at finding ways to kill without spilling a drop of blood. Financial death, Creative death, Spiritual death; in the real world there’s a lot more to lose than just your life.
But I dare say we’ve made some progress yet. Outright slavery is banned. Everybody can now marry everyone else (as long as you only keep one spouse one at a time). Oh and you can’t actually be burned at the stake anymore for believing in anything that isn’t the Christian god. Are we 100% free? Well no, hardly not, but we’ve made some damn good progress. And if we can stop arguing about who’s wrong on how to fix our country, maybe we can make even more. We’ve already been to the bottom, we’ve already seen how ugly and nasty we can be. We’ve been to the darkest recesses of our soul and you know what, it’s not that bad. The people we disown, the ones who still believe in intolerance, in fear mongering, those people are around and they have power and strength but they’re dying out. They’re running scared and they’re going to try to take us down with them. They’re going to give us reason to return to McCarthyism (though did we ever leave? We’re still burning witches on TV and YouTube, but now with words) We’re fighting the battle on their terms. They’re asking us to set the precedent they need to take away the freedoms we’ve just begun to have.
A gunman in a crowded place of peace is the last desperate act of a starving animal. All we have to do is continue to be true to what is love. Love is trust, love is forgiveness, love is faith. The people who believe in hating others based on superficial traits, who think there should be laws instead of reforms, they’re dinosaurs. They’re going extinct and they know it. There will be people voting in the 2016 presidential election that were born in 1998. Ok, once you’re over feeling old take some time to reflect on the past two decades. These kids have never known a time without the internet. They’ve never known the frustration of an extremely outdated encyclopedia. They’re aware that America is not some bright and shining Bastille of truth and justice. This is the generation that has seen bullying on an unprecedented level, they’ve experienced violence in an infinite number of forms. They’re wide awake and they see the propaganda. This is the generation raised by the rebellion. The hippies, the Civil Rights Pioneers. They people who believed that love is the answer, that non-violence is the only way to combat the evils of the world. And they taught that to their kids. And their kids had kids. And now you have a generation that sees no evil in the color of a man’s skin and can’t understand why any two people can’t be bound in marriage if they both consent. You have an entire generation that knows to trust their intuition and to question that which doesn’t make sense. They know there is a lot more to gain through collaboration than can ever be done through competition alone. And that attitude of equality and love is what they’re taking with them into the voting booth.
So hey America, don’t worry, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Just keep shining, believing in our fellow man to hold the same values in your heart. When you cut through the bullshit you see we’re all animals at heart. We all want the same things. We want to be loved and we want to feel safe. All the rest is just fashion.