I know it seems redundant to stand on a soapbox on a blog. I get that. But I'm taking this one post to basically air out something that's been bugging me leading up to the Fourth.
We have nothing to celebrate.
Sure, today is the day we celebrate our Independence from Britain. Today, we celebrate the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America,
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
We should be celebrating these words, we should be living these words. But today, I feel as the people of the United States, we should be mourning these words, because they do not live today. They have died in our society, they do not exist in our government, they have failed to hold true today.
Am I being facetious? Am I being defeatist? Am I just another armchair activist?
No, I'm sick. I'm sick of pretending things are okay. I'm sick of treading through the bullshit that gets spewed on us by a media who's hellbent on making us afraid of everyone and everything. I'm sick of being proud of a country that fails its people.
There is a social war, people. One that is expanding. You may not see it, you may not even know it exists. But it's there. It wages on the internet, it attacks on the media. There are skirmishes every time you step outside.
Who is being attacked? The Muslim who wants to go to his mosque, the young girl who takes control of her body, the woman who wishes equality, the black man who walks down the street, the immigrant who wants a better life; we, the people, are being attacked. And the fucked up thing? We are allowing it. We are letting it happen. We have allowed the small vocal minority of fucking idiots to spread lies and ignorance at every avenue available to them, and they have done so with much fervor and zeal that you almost have to applaud them for it if they wouldn't shoot you for the effort.
We have allowed companies to be recognized as people, we allow our children to be killed because the gun lobby pumps so much money into corrupt candidates that continue to allow these weapons to be readily available, we turn our backs on veterans that we ask to fight meaningless wars for us, we wage war with countries that we have no business to do so and allow countries that desperately need our help to suffer because they can't do anything for us.
We are in a sad state of affairs. We are losing this war on our humanity. Look into the eyes of a child, tell them that we have allowed others to butcher their future inheritance. That we leave them a world of fear, a world dying from pollution, a world that would judge them based on race, gender, or sex. Tell them the truth. Tell them we have failed!
For if nothing, let's be honest. We are bad Americans. We should be disgusted with ourselves for impeding the liberties that we so boorishly and brazenly claim to uphold. I want you to look in the mirror, take a breath and say, "We fucked up." Then, and only then, can we begin to heal. For in failure, in our err of being human; we can strive for forgiveness. But it must start with the truth, and to know the truth is to see the sickness within us, what we have allowed to happen.
And of course, without fail, you'll ask the question, the one question that stops most of us from trying to take a step in the right direction.
"What can I do?"
The answer is not nothing, though that is what most of us will do. The truth is, you can be aware, you can say it loud and proud. You can say the truth.
"I am a bad American! I have allowed bigotry, sexism, and hatred to grow around me! I have turned a blind eye when women have said that they feel that they are being attacked! I have made excuses for accepting misogyny in our culture! I have walked by as the little guy gets picked on! I have allowed the fear of other people to allow prejudices of people I know nothing about fester in my heart and in the hearts of others I know. I am a bad American, but I don't want to be!"
I can't tell you how to celebrate our day of Independence. That would negate the very day. But I ask you, any of you who read this. To take a moment, any moment today or any the day after. Accept that we're not as good as we think we are. And considering this is not how we would want to be treated, let's not treat others in the same fashion. You are a bad American, but you, me, we; can be better.
I leave you with the words of the fictional character of Howard Beale from the film "Network". It's only fitting.
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.We know things are bad — worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot — I don't want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. [shouting]You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!'So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!...You've got to say, I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"