Hard Lessons To Learn


I Will Not Go Gently

For better or worse, I have never been one to shy away from speaking my mind, standing up for what I believe in, voicing my opinion (even when it wasn’t a popular one), speaking truth to power, and I don’t see any reason to stop now. In fact, I cannot think of a time in my life where that trait was more important than it is now, and honestly, I wish there were more people out there who shared this feeling.

I get it. You’re tired. You’re bored. Your anxiety is through the roof. At best you are tired, bored, sick of dealing with your kids, your wife, your husband, and you just want to watch some baseball, or buy some flowers for the yard (in April? Please). At worst, you’re on the frontlines. You’re a medical professional who is facing the horrors of this virus first hand, every day. Or you’re a low wage worker at the grocery store or gas station who has been scoffed at for years and are now learning that your low wage job that was once deemed “disposable” by our society is suddenly essential to a functioning society, and you’re so poor you can’t afford to quit. Or worse, maybe you’re someone who has lost a loved one to the virus or has a loved one who is sick with the virus. If you are the former, the “at best” crowd, you are lucky; those are all discomforts that come from a position of privilege. Go ahead, learn a new language, take up yoga, try your hand at glass blowing. Like I said, privilege. I know, I know, you really hate the P word being tossed at you, especially when you’ve worked so hard for everything you have, and you’ll be damned if someone like me is going to call you privileged. But, let’s face it folks, a fact is a fact, and you being in a position to use this self quarantine time to paint your wife’s craft room or finally install that pocket door in the bathroom is privilege. Don’t get me wrong, I painted my wife’s craft room the first week, but I also understood what afforded me that opportunity. But that doesn’t mean privilege doesn’t come without risks. If you fall into the latter category, as my household does with my wife’s position as an ICU nurse with shifts on the COVID-19 floor, well, this is some seriously scary shit. My wife is putting her life, my life, and my mom’s life, whose care we are responsible for with limited to no contact, at risk every time she goes to work. Some people told her she was a hero. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she wasn’t a hero; she’s just another American who can’t afford to lose her job. Do you think she wants to risk her life, our lives? She has to go to work. Meanwhile, people are complaining who only care about being allowed to pick up paint, or buy flowers, or go to the bar, or have dinner at their favorite restaurant again at the expense of others. She’s a hero to me, but to her, she’s just another person without a choice and who has crushing student loan debt. Which, by the way, is the only kind of debt that one can accrue in American society that we, as a country, legally won’t forgive. Buy all the garbage you want, and be fiscally irresponsible. The government won’t care, and they will forgive you via bankruptcy. But get a college degree, and you can forget about it. However, that’s a discussion for another day. You want to make my wife’s life and job easier? Don’t call her a hero, just stay home until the medical experts say otherwise.

Can’t You Post Something Positive?

I get it. I see several people I know out there on social media with their passive aggressive posts decrying people like me for filling their feeds with factually correct, well-sourced but difficult truths (never mind that instead of complaining about my posts they can unfollow, snooze, or delete my presence altogether and put an end to their suffering). They want to focus on the positive and stop focusing on all of the negative stuff that, in their eyes, we can’t control. Some people have come right out and told me to stop, take a break, give it a rest, their anxiety is already through the roof, that I keep telling them things they already know, that I’m preaching to the choir, or that I’m making things worse.

I take issue with that.

If calling for a change in our system that shits on the poor and disenfranchised, and persons of color isn’t positive, if calling for a change to our system because our society values profits over people isn’t positive, if calling for a change to our system because our president has, by definition, committed genocide isn’t positive, if calling for a change to our system because we ignore science, ignore poverty, embrace anti intellectualism isn’t positive, well then, I guess I’m not sure what is positive. I’m sorry those people don’t see it that way. Honestly, I find those types of people to be the most dangerous types of people-the let’s just go along, keep our heads in the sand, the acquiesce-ers, the ones who passively sit around while authoritarians and kleptocrats hijack a country. I know some people don’t like the Hitler analogy when it comes to The Cult of Our Dear Leader, and I really feel that is their problem and their lack of historical understanding and knowledge, but let’s leave Hitler out of this discussion for now in order to protect dissenters’ delicate sensibilities. Generally speaking, for any authoritarian regime that grabs power (and they always use an extreme crisis to make a power grab), there is usually only about a third of any given population that is behind any extreme leader, and about a third of any given population that is against any extreme leader. It is that silent, passive, go-along-to-get-along, nothing to see here, everything will work itself out type of folks who allow the authoritarian regime to seize greater power to the detriment of that society. Ventilators are being given out to states based on who falls in line with The Cult of Our Dear Leader and not to states who he deems as unfriendly, not loyal enough, or political rivals; but please, by all means, criticize those who are taking a stand.

I would like to be able to sit here and tell you that I believe things will get back to normal, but I’m not even sure what that means anymore, let alone if I actually want to return to that normal. But I’m afraid, very afraid, that things have changed forever and not for the better. Over the last forty years, I have watched as our democracy, if it ever truly was a democracy, transition into a kleptocracy, and now that kleptocracy is attempting to transition into an authoritarian regime. But please, tell me again how mad you are at the governor because you can’t go buy flowers in April or lawn fertilizer or journey to your second home up north. But me, I’m not gonna stop pointing out the ugly truths of our society, no matter how sick of it you are, and that’s as positive of a message as you are going to get from me.