“They are our neighbors, our peers, our friends.”
I’m sitting in a bar reminding them of the facts. We have to live with these people. Did you never discuss politics with your neighbors growing up? Who were your neighbors? I’m drinking my beer slowly, trying to remind people to be optimistic. Am I pulling off professional anger?
I’m called a cynic.
I believe we can do a lot of good if we do the work.
I keep getting asked who “THEY” is. I’m confused as to why you don’t know. Poor people use the THEY because who knows which person with power is responsible and because being oppressed is just a basic fact of life. You know exactly who I’m talking about. People with unchecked power tend to abuse it. People with power tend to go unchecked too often.
I hate having power, I’m not accustomed to it. I’m used to the underdog, defensive position. I’m used to bigger opponents. I’m scared that power is inherently addictive and I’ve spent my life running away from other people’s addictions.
“Who are THEY?”
“The people with the power?!”
Oh no, did I say that with enough confidence?
Lack of confidence is an excuse they’ll use
Then when I have confidence, it is arrogance.
“Just keep swimming,” I tell myself.
“Love the water,” I tell myself,
But maybe I like the underdog position because I’ve gotten good at it.
“Keep your expectations low.”
“Learn from every experience and everyone.”
I wonder what their worst is, before I take another sip. This is decadence and narcissism. I wonder if it has always been like this, I wonder if this is inevitable. I wonder if there is a way to prevent the fall. I’m told they aren’t concerned about the dust bowl that haunts the I-5, they live in the city, what do they have to care about? Why should they have to cater?
We are all in the middle of a grand experiment, one we all signed ourselves up for. I think it is beautiful. But if it fails it’ll be because it was easier to pretend none of us were responsible for making it grow. Someone has to start taking responsibility, someone with the power to make it count.
Would it be meglomania if I told them I thought my own people were beautiful, because we are? We are so beautiful I can hardly stand it on most days. We are so beautiful, they refuse to believe it.
I know why the caged birds sings, I say to myself while I sing.
Who divided US?
Who told US not to love each other?
What was THEIR excuse?
I love too hard and too fast to go along with it. Is it my roots that make me love like this? At what point does the continued belief in love become a sort of madness? Do I care when they’ve been calling me crazy my whole life? We’ve heard that before too.
Try and catch me slipping. I’ve gotten pretty good at the game over the years.
This doesn’t have to be the way we treat each other. WE could all be in this together, but we’ve allowed the divisions to occur. Do you know what comes next after the divisions?
I have fallen in love with the US over and over again, through, the good, the bad and the ugly. I have no regrets about the way I love.
But every time I take a sip of my beer, I think of my fellow soldiers. I think about how many homies I’d have to pour out for, and at what point is it a waste of beer? I think of your cynicism and rage, your inability to forgive while you also seem to never be able to remember a damn thing. Memories of goldfish, my grandma used to say while she told me more of that history that gets shared over kitchen tables. That’s how I learned this story is much older and longer than me. It is beginning to feel too familiar. I’ve seen this so many times, it isn’t fear I stamp down, now it is just boredom.
I think of HER. I think of how many bodies that could mean. I think of the struggles and her last dying request. I cry alone and pretend to be ok. “It was to be expected.” Another death, another one of us gone. I expect the deaths more than the good.
Who planned the funeral, I wonder?
It wasn’t me.
This time, it wasn’t me.
Someday I will be the tiger, and someday I will find myself in the circus.
Someday I will find myself performing tricks, put down after I lashed out at the wrong person.
Someday my strength will mean more than, “I have survived.”
I keep carving places, I keep forgetting about time and space. I keep dreaming of something I can’t have.
I’m jealous of your normalcy.
I’m jealous of your peace and calm.
I’m jealous of quiet dinners where the news is an abstract concept.
But I want it for you. I want it so badly, I lie. I hide. I conceal. I want to make you comfortable. I hate lying but I do it anyway. Does it make you feel better? Because that’s all I care about anymore. Don’t ever make anyone uncomfortable, I’m reminded.
What do you expect me to do?
Lie, forever and ever.
I’m madly in love with our pain. With the scars that we can’t hide, with the dreams we never told, with the hope we couldn’t sell. I want to tell you there’s hope and I still believe in it. We’ve been through this before.
And you keep asking me who we is.
The we is all of of us.
You keep asking about the they.
The THEY are those who sell us THEIR hate. Hope is in short supply even if hate isn’t. I still hope. They can’t take that from us because it is still a choice. And we need all the hope WE can get.
And making that choice, my dear, sweet friends, is still my proudest accomplishment.