I’m embarrassed to have remained Facebook-silent about the tragedies in Baton Rouge and St Paul and Dallas when I’m frequently outspoken about other issues.
It took me a few days to formulate my thoughts in the hurricane of disgust and depression we all feel.
My simple thought is this: why are we so damn afraid?
FDR had it right declaring fear the only thing we have to fear. But from the most recent tragic shootings in the forefront of our minds to the all-but-forgotten massacre in Orlando, our society is just so afraid.
And of what?
We Americans are literally inventing reasons to kill each other.
Yes, there’s the 1%ers and climate change and job loss and globalization and economic downturns and cancellations of The Good Wife. But we are the country of shining cities on a hill and streets paved with gold. We are the emulation of the entire world.
Everyone wants to be us.*
And yet we are so very afraid.
Whites are afraid of Blacks.
Southerners are afraid of “Northern aggression”.
Northerners are afraid of country music.
Everyone is afraid of NYC Elmos in Times Square (Justifiably. Ew. Bedbugs.)
Blacks are afraid of cops.
And Republicans are afraid of everything.
What is there to fear?
From our national roots, we were a country of opportunity, openness and freedoms; and we all claim to hold such truths to be self-evident.
But are our actions mirroring our philosophy?
Because fear rules.
The media thrives on fear…because it sells ads. “What’s lurking in your toilet bowl? Look who’s stealing your identity, now? Immigrants are taking your jobs! TERRORISTS EVERYWHERE!”
The NRA thrives on fear…because it sells guns. “You never know. Home intruders, the revocation of my rights, stray clay pigeons. YOU NEVER KNOW.”
Parents thrive on fear. “What if my kid falls/chokes/screams/barfs/embarrasses/doesn’t-prove-himself-gifted?”
Republicans thrive on fear. “Let’s go back to the 1950’s because: Happy Days.”
Donald Trump thrives on fear because: votes.
We think we are the country of optimism. “Just Do It.” “We the People.” Disney.
And yet we are So. Damn. Afraid.
And so often, it comes down to guns. Why the FUCK do we need to be so gun crazy that normal citizens think they need to have guns to protect themselves in the streets, that gangsters have to bastardize our freedoms by shooting the shit out of each other to maintain turf, that cops have to be paranoid that any random person (read: Black person) has a gun on themselves, and that people keep killing each other over…what? What the hell do we have to kill each other for? What is so damn important to take another’s life? Does anyone think about consequences, anymore?
We are spoiled toddlers stomping our feet when we don’t get our way and pout and hit and push and shoot each other with reckless abandon.
NOBODY ELSE DOES THIS (except for completely lawless places like fucking Darfur.)
And, yo, Americans: THIS AIN’T THE CONGO.
We aren’t the land of opportunity, we’re the land of fear.
And aren’t we better than that? More evolved, educated, privileged, blessed and better than that?
I ask you: fearful cops, fearful gang leaders, fearful NRA corporate execs, fearful anything-corporate execs, fearful news companies, fearful politicians? Aren’t we better than this?
Why do we have to be afraid of ___________? (Fill in the blank…Blacks, gays, Muslims, Republicans, Mexicans, cops.)
We are not toddlers fearing darkened closets.
We are better than fear.
FDR was right.
Yo, Mr. Media: Stop blowing everything out of proportion. 900 refugees dying in a blow-up raft is terrible. But one gang shooting in Brooklyn does not a national panic justify.
Yo, Americans: STOP WATCHING 24 HOUR NEWS. It’s perverse to watch so much negativity. It’s fucking with your minds. TURN IT OFF. For the news, all you need is this, maybe twice a day.
Ban guns. Just get rid of them. I can’t talk about it anymore. Yeah, they’ll always be there, but just: enough. They’re an unnecessary, paranoid, perverse fixation. Keep shooting deer. Fine. But the rest just foments paranoia. (What good did all those gun-toters do in Dallas? And fine, while I’m at it, do more for mental health. But guess what?…that requires more social assistance. So vote Hillary. Bye.)
And, most important: BAN SPECIAL INTERESTS. They pollute our political system and make politicians the whores of corporate interests.
So, yeah. I’m coming back to CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. Seems trite morphing the murder of innocents into a political pipe-dream, doesn’t it?
But if we got money out of politics, there’d be less fear to exploit.
(There’d still be the media fanning the fires of fear, but still…)
It’s tough to manage a monstrosity of a diverse culture.
But fear needn’t be our fuel.
Let’s be better.
* I know, I know. Plenty do NOT want to be us. But still…even the most hardened of snobby (French) critics kinda wants to live in Ross & Rachel land. AmIright?