I majored in history, and I was obsessed with the late 1960s – Vietnam, protests, intense racial issues, hell, I even wrote my senior thesis on racial appropriation in music. But the 90s were so boring. I remember thinking on multiple occasions, Nothing happens. We don’t do anything. There are no wars, real enemies or issues worth protesting, just some cum on a dress that people are freaking out about.
Of course in many ways I was wrong about the 90s. I was simply a privileged middle-class white kid from Oregon so yea, nothing happened to me. Well, now I’m a blogger and while my makeovers and round-ups are popular, I’m compelled to write about more every now and again. In fact I have and I just don’t publish them out of fear/sensitivity. Maybe the moment passes or maybe we have a post all written and scheduled and I don’t want to interrupt it. But it so often feels shallow and sad. And while this will always be a place that talks more about pillows and poufs, I’ve realized every single one of my unpublished drafts (after each tragedy) has some things in common and that maybe talking about those things, using a public platform for my private feelings is important once a year. But if this isn’t your jam come back in a couple hours – we do have a design post ready for you.
Back to this – the 90s are over and sadly that “utopia” isn’t the case anymore. I think that we can say with absolute assurance that things are “happening” now.
And it’s so bad.
Between the consistent mass shootings – (Orlando being especially devastating), intense racial police shootings, college rapes, TRUMP (in general), last years Paris attack combined with Nice a few days ago, and Baton Rouge yesterday . . . it just feels . . . so . . . endless. When will it stop? I realize that you don’t come here for this, so if this is not your jam, come back tomorrow. Bloggers are people too, and like sharing anything, when I get compelled to write, I WRITE.
Despite my privileged middle class up bringing I have to keep in mind that these type of horrible acts are happening, and have been happening for decades, every day in parts of the world. These are just recent events that are happening in first world countries unaccustomed to large scale violence, which is why I think so many of us feel especially bombarded by it all – lucky us, we’re not used to it.
Lately it feels predictable with its consistency, yet unpredictable with which category of tragedy. Mass shooting? Racial profiling? Terror attack? Who knows!!!????
So many tragedies on so many fronts.
There is no longer one common threat. It comes at you from every angle, and when you open your laptop in the morning there is a sense of “which is it?” happening.
The amount of times I’ve googled “safest city in America” or “most open minded city in the world” is stupid. I want to escape with my husband and two tiny angels and live off the grid without CNN, or FOX, or even Huffington Post . . . let alone guns. It’s all just so depressing. But leaving or hiding doesn’t solve the problem. We would be cowards, knowing that so many people don’t get to choose if, how, or when they avoid the violence, because they can’t necessarily afford the same. Our society has set things up so that already disenfranchised people get even more disenfranchised. We aren’t going to peace out. We will stand.
When I think about all of the different, equally upsetting, tragedies I find two very solid commonalities:
1. Fear of “the other” and 2. Lack of empathy.
Sure, every now and again a baby is born with a chemical imbalance that yes, without the right medical help, can turn him into a sociopath that lacks empathy and kills easily, but more normally the culprits are grown and bred by people and society, and the societal norms that are rarely challenged and painfully slow to change. Society treats people differently and unfairly, and due to disenfranchisement, daily prejudice, and loss, fear is bred. And fear turns quickly into anger and hatred, and hatred turns even more quickly into violence . . . When angry people find each other, and unite on their common hatred, terrorism happens. And then when terrorism happens all empathy for those carrying out the crime gets completely wiped away as if they weren’t people anymore. And we become so polarized that we can’t even pretend to know where each other are coming from.
I think that we can in no way progress and stop the violence/killings without understanding our enemies . . . on EVERY front. Let me be clear, I’m not over here feeling sorry for ISIS, and I don’t think that we should sit down and have a caramel latte with them to help understand their feelings. Some things are too far gone. I’m not a total Polyanna, but I know that on a daily basis over here we can be doing a better job.
Our narcissistic society full of photoshopping thigh gaps and slide-right dating has stopped being empathetic. The vast majority of us are too busy putting a puppy filter on our faces to engage, read, and analyze the nuances of our politics and culture. We don’t know each other and therefore people are too afraid of each other to ask “why?” and “how?” (Do yourself a quick favor and watch this) We’re so comfortable living in our isolated bubbles of safety, and only recently being forced to see the horrible acts of violence, sexism, racism, and prejudice that so many face on a daily basis.
We didn’t used to be like this – politically.
Politics used to be civilized, full of debate and compromise. Now it’s one big standoff, dick in hand, where politicians fear being reasonable because they might look soft. We’ve lost all common sense and empathy and replaced them with incendiary banter, narcissism and racism. Even our republican candidate wants to build a wall along the mexican border and not allow people from a particular religion step foot into our country.
Who is to blame? All of us. Society doesn’t grow itself and those tiny babies don’t become mass murderers (consistently) without some help. We have to be better at teaching our children to be empathetic – that nothing is singular, there are multiple sides of every story, our world is huge and full of diversity, and that understanding and listening is the key to preventing hate and disarming violence. We need to teach our children to see peoples differences and APPRECIATE them, rather than fear or hate them. Because refusing to acknowledge someones race, sexuality, political views, religious beliefs, etc. in order to make everyone seem equal is refusing to acknowledge an important piece of themselves. So, we don’t have to treat someone differently because of the color of their skin, but we do have to realize that our different colored skins might mean we’ve had different experiences in life. Pretending to not admit to this is another part of the issue that I think some people, who consider themselves liberal and “color blind” don’t understand. Until prejudices such as racism are extinct, these differences will always alter the course and experiences in someones life, which is what breeds both amazing and beautiful diversity, along with animosity and fear.
How do we fix this? I DON’T KNOW. Service? Committing to public school so there is more exposure and diversity? Strengthening community again?
It doesn’t matter what your politics are. People are real people. Clearly there is a divide, and there are masses of many different factions not being afforded the same educations, opportunities, or assistance as others. There are college rapists, mass shooters, unnecessary black deaths, France attackers, Dallas police shooters . . . It’s our job to look at what they have in common and wonder what can we do better.
In short: The badness is too frequent and diverse for that many individuals all of a sudden to be monsters. Society, us, had a role in it.
If all of us think a private island is what we need in order to feel safe, then maybe, just maybe, focusing on changing society, instead of fearing it and blaming others should be our real goal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous quote still inspires: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”