I Just Turned American.
I seek mostly to amuse myself with the links and statements I put up on facebook, twitter, and even Raging Titter. And in all honesty, I seek to amuse myself with most of what I do. I rarely allow things to get too serious or political. If I think something is worth reading or thinking about, I'll toss it out there. I'm never looking to get into a flame war or real argument with anyone. To those of you that know me, I know that seems difficult to believe.
Part of me always wanted to be a comedian. I actively want to find that magical something that will break the tension in a situation and allow that peculiar feeling of "ridiculous epiphany" to overcome the heavy weight in the air that seems to linger around conflict.
But today, after seeing this video, I can't dismiss it as someone else's problem and I can't even make a joke. My coping mechanism has been stripped of all its power in the face of this type of undeniable hate. The ignorance and loathing in our country has reached a critical mass. I do not have the strength to stare directly into the face of it anymore.
I can't in good conscience allow myself to let Jon Stewart and his staff of writers (or any other comedians for that matter) take the responsibility for making me feel better about this. I can't joke around the thought anymore. I've been thinking something for nearly a decade that I've never said out loud. I've searched and searched for a political ideology, philosophy, or even fiction that would evaporate this thought. Some germ of an idea that would allow me to catalog this thought as a youthful product of my anti-authortarian personality. But I watched this video and I know now that it cannot be done.
Something is wrong with America. Somewhere along the line we got ourselves into another civil war.
And it's a lot less civil than a gun that shoots once every little once in a while.
I stood in the capitol building in Madison about two weeks ago. I heard protesters chant, "Our house!". I watched as the capitol rotunda filled with people demanding that they be heard by the people charged with representing them. It is as though they could not stand the idea that there would be taxation without representation. I saw people who felt powerless coalesce into something powerful. And then I saw and heard this action derided by people who often claim that government itself is "out of control".
There is an important difference between demanding the right to be heard and petition for the redress of grievances and the right to shout at someone because you don't like their religion.
Then there's this Tea Party thing. I'm confused by the sheer number of conflicting ideas this political ideology can sustain and still motivate its members into action. The historical reference the name makes seems antithetical to the politics of candidates elected from this movement. The Boston Tea party was a protest against the combined forces of tyrannical government and big business. How can they not see the contradiction?
Then I saw this video. It's about hate. Maybe it wasn't always about hate, but something like this is most definitely about hate and fear and aggression. This is the ugliest America I've ever seen. This is what rich, entitled, middle-class white power looks like.
We need better ideas to defeat this. We need better than better ideas. We need truly great ideas.
I see what I have to do. I see the person I have to be to cope with this and it scares me. I have to become more intellectually passionate while I maintain an emotional serenity. I have to make decisions about where I shop, what I buy, and how I spend my money based on more than my own comfort. I have to discover and honor my citizen identity. I have to become an example of what an American can be and not just someone bitching to no one in particular.