|"American Gothic" - Grant Wood|
I am tempted to hate the world because...
We sit confused and ravenous in the middle of yet another clashing of wills, reason, and emotion. I refer, of course, to the Zimmerman trial and resulting verdict. The calm façades of our personal front porches have cracked and crumbled under the furious debate of this event, as they do with all moments of such devastation and controversy. The soundtrack of the moment is "uproar," the most disrupting of sounds, which splits the nation apart and proves that there is no "America." Over three-hundred million people live in the United States, all while living in separate countries. The human experience is different for everyone. We are all born. We will all die. We all fall down and scrape our knees. We all respond viscerally to what is around us, the sight, scent, texture, and emotional and intellectual provocations of it. We fall in and out of love. We survive past the point of surviving. We all just are. And we all fear, a fact that infiltrates and disturbs the equality of these aforementioned things, making them feel uneven. In our own private, heavily delineated domains-- our countries within a country, the spaces we share only with those who hold a common ground-- we know that we are justified. We are right in what we feel. Our opinions, our perceptions, our reactions are just, because each man's America raises him with the genuine, albeit different, lashings and scars of a righteous individual.
Because we are all right, we hold the thrones, the torches, the muskets, and the bombs in our personal countries, and we build the proper fortresses to protect us from invasion. To protect our separate spaces, our land, and calculatingly disallow entre to those who do now know what it truly is to be an American. An American of My America. This paranoic fear is not unfounded. Man has proven to be unbelievably, immeasurably imperfect. Even The Holy Bible, which one assumes is the most contested and heavily debated book in the history of the world, despite its glaring inconsistencies and errors, is not "wholly" wrong. Man was designed to destroy himself. If we were to wash ourselves clean, the damage left from the flood would be ourselves. The flickering seconds of peace would be destroyed by each nation's God complex. We want our perception of life to be as we see it, and we cannot abide seeing it any other way. There can be no total co-existence, as such terror disbands the notion of compromise. The virus within each of us that seeks for control will never totally settle on being governed, being policed, nor any form of submission. Nor should we. There is no President, there is no council, there is no counsel to be trusted, because we are all dirty, filthy, liars; we are all mutts, fighting to be the bigger or more imposing dog, so we are not the one eaten.
|Woman being arrested in 1920s for wearing a bathing |
suit with no leg covering.
These two sides seem as if they will forever be apart. Separate time zones. No intranational telephone service. No intranet. No admittance. No sympathy. No understanding. No windows.
If we were to deconstruct ourselves, rise up unified, fresh as babies, with no concept of color, no concept of other, no concept of fear, how long before we handed that "Eden," "Utopia," "Peace," "Unity," over again? How long before the nature of the world affected us: the wind, the weather, the hunger? How long before the nature of man affected us: jealousy, greed, lust? How long can man blindly dance before he feels a fool? How long before he must stop and make structure? How long before a leader is chosen? How long before we split in half deciding whether said leader is one of wisdom or one of ego?
Yes, I am tempted to hate the world...
But I don't, because...
|The last men and women standing at a dance marathon in|
It is difficult to find a bright side in the shadows of our own imposing gesticulations of "I." The internal need for progress is generally met with external resistance. The internal need for security is impeded by outlying forces that are beyond control, disasters both foreign and domestic, natural and unnatural. To counterbalance life's horrors with some level of optimism for future days is a reality unabashedly evasive and out of reach. Making one's life matter, while apologizing for the way one was born, raised, taught, effected, while others are not as you are, is a painful concept many leave untraversed for fear of the rejection and spastic eruptions of hate they will receive upon confession. The young man born into wealth cannot apologize to the panhandler, who cannot apologize to the policeman, who cannot apologize to the convict, who cannot apologize to the judge. Life is one Hell of a brutal tug of war.
One cannot live without fear. One can only try to conquer it; to win more battles than one loses in the procession of never-ending altercations. Once can only save oneself from moral extermination by love and by art-- two things that may be the same thing. These are the only modes of communication that are not national nor international, but universal. The order of the stars and the planets are a bundle of mesmerizing chaos that continue to draw our attention. The man who communicates a thought shared by another, expressing a level of understanding that was beforehand incomprehensible, gives air to grievance and lets it breathe. The woman that loves and finds herself loved in return and welcomed into an America that is justified by another's inhabitance-- and a world that did not seem to offer such solace-- inherits within her an elevated experience of life. There is comfort in the communications of thoughts, ideas, and senses of being that are not counterintuitive but collaborative, the voice that responds in kind and not with the destructive, bombastic, insecure voice of conflict that fear instigates. This is to take the misshapen pieces of different identities and ideaologies and forge them into one. Forever there will be crack, a scar, to show where the picture was not a picture but a puzzle, and one that can so fragilely be disassembled. It is the willingness to be together that holds a thing together. Even when we are apart.
|The Woolworth Four of Greensboro, NC.|
Clarity seems an impossible thing to achieve. So too did the New World sound like a fictional place to those who never saw it. So too was a flat earth improbably round. Somehow, we progress despite ourselves. There is a part of man that presses on, trades old mistakes for new, unlearns old prejudices and forgets them in the next generation. We are never totally good. We never solve the riddle of life. Yet in trying to answer, we somehow always improve. There is nothing to do but live, not justly as the law commands, nor humbly as "the Lord" commands, but willingly-- as our brethren secretly plead. See me. Hear me. I am not your villain. I am but trying to live as you, to provide for my family, to pass on the theory that life is worth its harsh brevity. I am another you, in another body, from another America. Do not deprive me of your recognition. Do not size me up nor attach to me a prejudice nor a stigma nor a cliché. Just let me be as you have been. This is all the knowledge of life there is.