Friday, June 2, 2017

Master of Alone

Perhaps 25 year old me would find his likeness in Aziz Ansari's "Master of None". To some extent, I am still the romantic I was at that point, but I romanticize different things. Real things that I can see and touch, as opposed to feelings which are never properly conveyed. There is no longer an urge in me to continue a fruitless pursuit of beauty, at least as it pertains to the sexually implied prerogative of the human race. Instead, I let the winds of fate and chance take my sails, and spend the time wasted on trying so hard instead dancing with myself.

It's a strange freedom that I have learned, the end of the day when I get into bed alone. The irrelevance of time and space at that moment, and the selfish realization that the only burdens I carry are mine to bear. So much of romance is timed like a two step, repetitive and numbing. To be alone is to dance to your heart's content, until someone else of a like mind dances alongside. There is no compromising yourself to be with a lessening man or begging a woman just to be there with you. It is peak romantic nihilism, and it combined with the expression of your love in more platonic ways is fascinatingly intoxicating. It makes one wonder why we try so hard to please anyone, knowing that sex is a drug we crave more than happiness. Is is that we need each other to be whole, cannot face the crippling depression of loneliness, or perhaps lack a full understanding of love's capacities and uses?

The Missing Piece

We are all flawed. It's what I believe makes us beautiful. It's the fragile balance of our mortality juxtaposed with our insistence on conquering it. Or the persistent challenge to improve upon what is already a living breathing miracle of existence. Throughout time we strive to better ourselves in ways that do not make sense. This isn't a rant against work-outs and makeup, and our superficial being, but rather an indictment of the way we treat our minds and souls (if we want to get spiritual/ethereal about it). Why must we insist on a narrative where we are born broken or at least become broken? A romantic Voldemort with our horcrux living in another person.

It's not just the self-effacement, it's the implication of transferred power that makes such a belief dangerous. Suicides because one decides they cannot live without another's love are an extreme example. In other cases, a couple's insistence on spending time together at expense of their friends or their hobbies is emotionally damaging as well. At worst, instead of the person being what makes one whole, they try to change what makes you fundamentally you. There are few crimes worse than destroying a person's individuality, and I know, because I've been guilty of it many times. It's funny how the butterfly is much more beautiful before you catch it.

This does not preclude the idea of romance, partnership, or marriage, Just the conceptual idea that relationships should eliminate individual freedom. Sacrifice time, money, love to another if you wish, but never sacrifice who you are. Don't change yourself in fear of being alone, because darker and deeper depths lie at the end of compromising yourself.

Lonely

Being alone and lonely are not the same thing. A loner can fully embrace themselves for who they are. They are flawed, yes, but also incredibly strong and fearless. Desiring to be alone does not mean you lack empathy for others or the desire to be loved by others, it rather implies that you are for once happy with who you are in life. At this point, one does not need others to "complete" them. They are whole, and at the same time when entering a relationship, they have no need to leech off of another, or as I like to phrase it "dim their shine." So much of loneliness springs from the resentment that this parasitic behavior condones.

Loneliness is something else altogether. At one point, very unsure of myself, I cut myself off from humanity for a three month period. During this period, I literally forgot to use my voice; I didn't talk to people, laugh, or sing. One could argue this is textbook depression, but I wasn't depressed, I wanted to learn who I was. When I emerged, I was very much as I am today. I learned to work again, and learned how much physical labor eased my mind. I began to talk again, laugh again, and most importantly sing again.

Life without food, dance, music, and laughter is lonely. These things are all better company than any woman I've ever met, but occasionally, as with that occasion, the woman and such beauty may walk hand in hand.

There are sadder forms of loneliness as well. Waking up in a bed with a woman who doesn't love you is one I've felt many times. Realizing the people around you hold others in perpetual contempt gives me the same feeling. I've watched a man across a room grieve his spouse in a way that I can't even comprehend, listening to renditions of their favorite songs, One has no idea how few times I've never had the words, but there I just said my worst condolences and walked away.

I realize now that I never feel lonely when I'm alone. I can walk from place to place and nature embraces me in a way humanity never did. I sit in my car and every song on my phone connects me back to a person or place that I may miss in that moment.

Love

All this being said I still love and I've loved many wonderful people without regret. Perhaps. it's far worse for me, because I don't enter into such feelings blindly, and I don't feel the need to proclaim them to anyone. It's even worse, because as long as my brain draws power, such feelings do not cease. I love the first person I said the words to, and the last one. Their are nuances to each and I have been a monogamous man for my entire life, but polyamory is the constant state of my brain.

It's changed my mind on what I want from other people. My most positive relationships are non-sexual and I realize that more and more the chase for said relationships makes people incredibly miserable. Instead of being another peg in the rock wall they're climbing, I strive to be the harness protecting them from a fall. In many ways, being very confident in my own abilities and self-worth allows me to be the only person who doesn't need to lie to anyone, who can honestly assess life. In turn, the best people in my life ask me questions that female suitors don't ever think of. They ask me about my family, upbringing, and try to delve further into who I am, rather than ask me where I am headed. These are questions about who am I, rather than who could I be.

I can never express how lucky I was to have two incredible parents to raise me. Everything good or bad about me springs from them. My humor, my work ethic, my incredible patience which precedes my unreasonable temper, and their strange love which is relentless. I think that above all else they wish for all of their children to be happy, so my mother in between bouts with madness will often inquire into my status. She has often gotten lost and insisted I marry a bartender thus combining my Bacchian tendencies towards music and booze with my enduring love for the fairer sex. I have told her many times that I am self-destructive, but that sounds like a death wish. So I think the positive way to end this for them would be to explain that I am always happy. That doesn't mean I can't be sad or angry, or any multitude of emotions. However, I am happy with who I am, so throughout those emotions I remain inside an outrageously content man.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Two Hometowns

It's taken a bit of decompression, but I've finally come to terms with our failure this past November. I'm not important enough, nor foolish enough, to cast blame for the recklessness with which we launched ourselves into whatever this presidency claims to be. So instead, I'll get angry about something else, as any man with my ego, intellect, and complete disregard for everyone else would. In fact, I promise to pick out the most mundane story and pound it into the ground as I am wont to do.

Mostly, the conceptual idea of the out of touch elitist Democrat and the rural racist redneck Republican are falsehoods. Firstly, Democrats are just as racist and Republicans are just as out of touch. Secondly, it does no one service to just blindly label a group of people known for blindly labeling other groups of people. This is a paradox, and both sides get confused, quite possibly ending up as Bernie Bros or Breitbart sponsors. However, I personally am highly offended by the conceptual idea that because I voted for Hillary Clinton that I was out of touch with the minority of voters that elected that one guy President.

I think it's fair enough to explain my case.

I grew up in this town.

Carrollton, MO: Part of the Town SquareImage result for carrollton mo

I live in this one:
Image result for fountain park st louisMarket looted in Fountain Park

These are cherry picked images, but get the idea across best. I have cooled somewhat on my past beef with Carrollton, but in essence it is a peaceful town that might have seen it's heyday a century ago. I currently live in Fountain Park an area of North St. Louis that, at best, may be described as dilapidated and at worst, unlivable. To understand how I have come to my current beliefs, I feel we should go back and see where I come from and where I ended up.

Carrollton

I can't describe the joy this small town gives me. I've already expressed the anger, but let's focus on the positives and then try to understand why elite liberals don't get "flyover" country.

I would never dissuade someone from moving to Carrollton to start (or I suppose finish starting) a family. I can't imagine a childhood for myself outside the one where I walked home from kindergarten and wandered throughout town without fear. Even the tragedies in Carrollton seemed made up, every death was a Shakespearean play of emotions and for a town so keen on God, those times where God abandoned us were far more deeply felt.

He won big here, and you can assume that racism and bigotry were the case, but that actually implies reasoning into the decision. Towns like these vote Republican because their parents have been Republicans since Goldwater, and they learned at a young age to be Republicans. They respect their elders in a way that no others seem to do, which is both commendable and headstrong. It's also blindly reckless,

If you think small towns care about immigrants stealing their jobs, look at the many stories of small towns horrified when the nice family running their ethnic restaurants get run off  by ICE. If you think small towns have any reason to fear Muslims, look at the proximity of the closest mosque to my hometown. I'm not saying that this irrelevance helps anyone, but honestly, they have bigger problems.

In an increasingly service based economy, rural jobs aren't coming. Chasing the idea of small scale manufacturing in the face of increasing automation limits the possibilities that these towns can offer. Also, while the mileage has improved, the time constraints of commuting are still a factor (though a commute from Carrollton to Kansas City is probably shorter than a commute from St. Charles County to St. Louis at many times). The largest employer in town is the school district, and every year their representatives and senators vote to cut education funding. There is something ironic to that if one doesn't get sad first.

So you turn to the money industry in Carroll County: agriculture. This is where the Democratic party lost its way. Farmers hate government...and love government. Government keeps prices high and government regulates everything to some detriment and with lack of thought. I can get an abused animal from a megafarm but I can't acquire pig's blood from a reputable source. (If you eat blood sausage in the US, the blood was obtained illegally or from China. Eat the illegal one first.) Market control is a liberal economic concept, but they spend so much time attacking the wrong regulation that it's counterproductive.

So my people have a real concern, Do they vote for a candidate for the party they always have who may be mentally unbalanced or vote for perhaps the most conservative liberal status quo candidate, who has literally been the poster child for liberal arrogance for a couple of decades now. One can't blame them for picking that man.

Carrollton is timeless. It is a town I could go back to and feel warmth at any point, and occasionally sneak through unseen (getting harder with every day that I grow to resemble their high school teacher). It will endure on pure will, and the backs of the many wonderful people that inhabit it. It may get an interesting break with Amtrak considering a stop there (in a notorious flood plain?), but will continue to be a beautiful place, full of lovely people with a strange myopic viewpoint of the world. If I could raise a family there and live without the fear of poverty and irrelevance I would, but I fear it's too late for such trivial matters.

Saint Louis

Potential.

That's a word I hear spread about Saint Louis and occasionally myself. Saint Louis, like me, occasionally forgets to put in the work to maximize said potential. It's an interesting place to live, in that the day-to-day often involves surprises you never saw coming. The smallest kindest in a city may feel like a mirage compared to the small town life. The darkest thoughts are born in a cynicism that attaches to city life as a barnacle of distrust on our ship of dreams.

I think that may be the biggest difference for me, My hometown realizes where I'd be if I could settle myself and the city represents the chaotic dreams that I have. The sound of gunfire is somehow refreshing to me. The idea of my mortality is an impetus to study what it is to be me, or on a grander scale, to be human. I cannot ever settle myself without hoping for the same for my brothers, whether that be my literal family or the people that have crossed my path in this life. There is a beating heart on the far side of the heartbreak, and my goal is to find that.

Saint Louis is defined by changes. The easternmost western city sees the weather havoc of the plains. It sees the violence of Chicago, but not as random and fractured. It more than Kansas City and Chicago has been defined by the diaspora of it's white citizens (another topic to explore as it isn't always about racism, as least openly). Yet since the time I have been here, Saint Louis has grown culturally and financially. At some time, the people will return, probably not en force. There will never be enough to fill those old dead schools (somewhat due to family changes rather than adult populations), and they will never convince anyone to renege on white flight. Somehow, St. Louis is on a positive trajectory despite the insistence of local alderman and our newly elected mayor to install their own bullshit fiefdoms instead of actually working for city progress.

For this reason, it's a city where my block is safer due to drug trafficking than a block in a nice neighborhood where cars and people get robbed for shits and giggles. My neighborhood is named after a park people don't feel safe to hang out in with a long neglected weirdly-painted fountain that no longer works. The neighborhood I work in is indicative of the over gentrification of retail areas, but has the strange duality of flamboyance and sedation.

It a city of potential and a city of many unique people, always in contrast to the few who have plenty to lose if it does succeed. I could never remove myself despite this cancerous leadership, because I simply love what city living affords me. I love sports, music, art, food, and any culture. Finding that inorganically through the Internet would kill me. There is a different heartbeat, that while no more alive drives me further and further into the city's grasp.

Me

These are the places that define me. With a slight sojourn in Rolla, I have lived my entire life in Carrollton and the greater Saint Louis area. I know Missouri. I know both sides of the same coin. I've been poor in both places, and I understand the difference. I know that your thoughts differ when a black man uses EBT in Maplewood and when a white mother uses it in a small town Walmart. I would tell you a dime there is a quarter here, and you'd be lost. I'd tell you that payday loans, slum lords, pawn shops, illicit paydays, and illegal guns somehow don't flow into small towns like they do poor urban communities.

One could respond that rural communities don't allow such to happen and I'd agree. Despite the low level spite that exists among all neighbors, I'd argue that Carrollton protects its own well. The idea of community is stronger and their is some conceptual idea of the greater good. They don't often strike down renewal projects out of spite, and their renewal projects simply don't take the monumental efforts ours will. They also aren't constantly being handicapped by a Missouri government that has no conceptual idea on how cities work outside of I take my kids there to see baseball games. They pass legislation that protects farmers and livestock, all the while treating the urban poor as livestock as well. 

We could change our lot in life, but not as individuals. We could invest in education from the bottom up, and stop pretending a liberal arts degree is worthless. Education should only be worthless to the children who decide to waste it like me. Maybe again teach our children, not only to learn, but to dream again. We have to at some time give everyone the option to get out of either situation. To leave the comfort of the small town, and dive into a much larger world. To leave the grasp of the city, and experience that peace for a while. 

Mostly, we need to stop this poor-on-poor battle. These two places share many similarities. Houses and communities built by hand. People looking for work and trying to feed their families, underpaid and undervalued employees, and a strong devotion to Christ, for better or worse. Everyone runs away with the money and leaves the rest of us to fight over their scraps.

Then, you're only left with us, the product of both worlds, as the tiny bridge among us. Honestly, I don't think we have what it takes for something so momentous; nevertheless, one can always hope someone agrees with me and tries to join these hands which have been ruthlessly sundered times innumerable. At some point, we'll realize the true battlefield lies upwards instead of horizontally along income lines.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Lineup

Suspect #1 is the perfect woman.
She's a manic pixie dream girl
Artistic, beautiful and kind
You're not her type

Suspect #2 is the perfect woman
She laughs at your jokes as garbage as they are
Meshes into your being
You're not her boyfriend

Suspect #3 is the perfect woman
The love of your life
You'll never find the words to describe this
You're not in her plans

Suspect #4 is the perfect woman
You've known this for far too long
Too comfortable to be intimate
You're not into it anymore

Suspect #5 is the perfect woman
She's the epitome of everything you never wanted
But she actually wants you
You don't understand this

Suspect #6 is the perfect woman
You haven't met yet
She's fiction
You can see her only in your mind

You're the worst witness.
Where should you begin?
They're all guilty.
Hard to pin a criminal with a stolen heart.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Quo Vadimus

And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better.
It was an awful year in many regards, but let's take a deep breath before we all go off the deep end. This is not the end of the United States of America. It sure isn't the prettiest of chapters, but those who are honest may acknowledge that United States history is littered with missteps and charismatic idiots. All of those outrageous and impossible campaign promises are not going to be completed, as the Orange One has surrounded himself with insiders and lobbyists who will ensure that as long as the money flows upwards, the status quo should not change. It may seem like I'm not positing a bright side of this election, but rather just acknowledging that most cogs in the system will continue to turn properly.

Let's not mince words: we have failed. I'm from both sides of this election, so feel free to take from that what you will. There are people in this country who are legitimately hurting and disenfranchised. There are a whole lot more who feel like no one cares about their ideals and fears. They are both correct. Politicians do not care about anything, but getting elected and keeping all of that slush money flowing in and their party happy. The only breath of fresh air that the Orange One offered was that look of dejection on his face as he won. When you care more about a party, than you do the people who sheepishly vote for it, you do it a disservice. If there is anything that Americans expect from their politicians, it's disservice.

I prefer to insert the question "Why?" into my failures. Perhaps one voted to get manufacturing jobs back to their state, county, or city. Cruelly, one should note this is a pipe dream in a world of increasing automation and expanding service economy. Sure, globalization has not helped, but there are certain Americans who have profited on sending their jobs abroad and certainly the people who hold the concentrated wealth of the United States benefited as well. Some could blame Hillary Clinton for being a candidate with obvious governing weakness, but no alluring plan and plenty of questions. Certainly, she was no Bernie Sanders, but voter apathy does not equate full on voter madness. And there were those of you who didn't vote, there are no eloquent words to express your failure, so let's try this: get fucked.

The election mistakes the direction of the United States. The country is not headed in a more racist, homophobic, or sexist direction, though it may appear that way given the electoral choices made. While Republicans pretend that the country opposes universal healthcare, LGBTQ equality, and Roe v. Wade, the truth is that more are in favor of the first two than ever, and the country, for multitudes of reasons, has held steady on Roe v. Wade consistently since it's ruling. Despite demanding an unfeasible wall and mass deportations, the Orange One has walked backed on that issue; hopefully, because it is idiotic but more likely that it is not financially or economically possible. The damage that can be done will not be irreparable, because to go too far would be career suicide and none of these men care about the issues more than the pork.

To be honest, there is a deepening divide between the two Americas, urban and rural. As a product of both, I will elaborate further upon that in the coming days. However, that is a product of misunderstanding and stereotyping, not a wholesale difference in values. Sure, people of like minds tend to flock together creating pockets of differences, but everyone dreams of upward mobility, freedom, safety, and happiness. One day we'll agree on that fact, instead of spending so much time denigrating everyone's ability to articulate their values or their complete lack of values from the opposition's perspective. Urban voters are not immoral drug users mooching off of the government's teat. Rural voters are not all bible-toting bumpkins, more willing to shoot a minority than shake their hand. They're all people, they're all terrified, and therefore, they are all prone to making awful decisions.

The title of this post comes from the finale of the TV show "Sports Night". It's not the most apropos of Aaron Sorkin vehicles to mention, "The West Wing" being obvious and "The Newsroom" far more liberal and preachy. Sports Night was a show about failures, but also about people trying to carve out their place in an established system. They rarely succeeded but mostly kept persevering through their extreme devotion to each other and their fight. Sometimes simply, they asked the right question. I'm often admonished by those that I love, both lovers and friends, for telling them to calm down and to breathe. Nevertheless, it may be best to ask that of them once more. There's a good chance that deep breath will be necessary as we head underwater for the foreseeable future. When taking that breath, ask yourself, "Where are we going?" I know the answer will not be something you wish to hear, but it will tell you what we need to fight for.

I can tell you where we are headed. Not exactly a cataclysm, but a dire moment in time. I firmly believe that small government is a reasonable goal, but that the time for small efforts and smaller men has passed. It is time to fight on a local level for love, for women's health, for equality, for justice. It's time on a state level to fight for education and to stop passing laws that alienate people and prevent economic growth, especially in the Midwest which reeled enough that they may have inadvertently fucked an entire country. It's time for our country to end the war on drugs, or at least give it focus the heroin, prescription abuse, and amphetamines that are destroying the communities that voted these idiots in. It's time for us to push back at Russia and ISIS, but reel back our proxy controlling of the world's affairs.

Some have taken to calling it an insurgency, an awkward name to oppose a party of gun-toting xenophobes, but essentially that is what it is. The socialist Bernie Sanders supporters need to find someone young and vibrant, in fact find lots of young vibrant socialists. The liberals need to find new blood, and find the passion that everyone had for Obama and spread it to congressional elections. The Republicans need to find a plan, any kind of plan. The alt-right need to go away. Everyone needs to learn a bit about discourse, courtesy, and cooperation. The Orange One needs to shut his mouth and sit there for four years without blowing us up or undoing any good that his predecessors have achieved.

Maybe I should take a deep breath as well...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Get Yours

"I want to do what's best for humanity."
"I want to do what's best for the American people."
"I want to do what's best for Missouri."
"I want to do what's best for Saint Louis."
"I want to do what's best for my employees/coworkers."
"I want to do what's best for my family."

If you have ever heard these statements, or any variation of them uttered in public, you are being deceived.

"I want to get mine."

This is honesty. When a person says this in public, or any variation of this, they are telling you the honest truth.

The first group of statements are lauded upon and the last is most disagreeable. This is the price of being an honest person. What you say is blunt and sometimes hurtful, yet you are the biggest advocate for everyone else because you are the only one willing to speak bluntly. This is the politician's paradox.

The fluctuations in animosity of ordinary Americans towards politicians is puzzling, as there is a mechanism (albeit, a rigged and mostly irrelevant) to make changes in leadership whenever the electorate wishes. However. that animosity is usually reserved for primary season when ridiculous caricatures of this repressed animosity sometimes capture the imagination. The more puzzling aspect is the resignation of voters in the general elections who just go back to their hovels to support generic candidate A or B.

So what's does each one break down into:

Obviously, a politician making the first generalization about humanity is a candidate running for President. In this instance, humanity's benefit does not include global arms proliferation, bombing indiscriminately in conflict zones, global warming, global economic expansion, curing AIDS or in general giving any fucks about the African continent. Let's be honest as President of the United States, you'll hopefully fuck nothing up here and fuck shit up elsewhere. It's been a trend since Truman.

Maybe you just want to help the American people. This means you are insular and possibly xenophobic. This also probably means you are the President-elect. These are not things included in the phrase American People: women, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, the entire LGBTQ community, Democrats, and hilariously, the poor white male that support and vote for you. You know what helps the American people most, your own personal gain and tax breaks to corporations and their CEOs.

Sure, you could say you want what's best for Missouri. If you are a Senator, that's not your fucking job. It says it right there on your fucking stationary. United States Senator or United States Representative. The party and State are abbreviations just to show people why you are such a douchebag. If you are Governor or the Missouri House or Senate, this is the correct position. However, you can't say you want to help Missouri if you rape your fellows, take bribes from loan sharks, or generally ignore the concerns of rural Missourians. Neither can you say that if you take money from big agriculture, hate groups, and work to oppress anyone that is different than you. Neither of you that is in the NRA's pocket will be able to help the young black men and police gunned down without reason while you shrug and say you want what's best for us.

Okay, it could be better on a local level. Let's hope that statement is uttered earnestly mayoral candidates and city leaders in industry. So which Saint Louis do you fight for? You probably fought for a $13 million boondoggle in the Loop. You may have put some roadblocks in north St. Louis, thus ending the area's drug problems and poverty immediately and also funneling everyone into your meat grinder that you call opportunity. Perhaps, you are running for mayor while running a corrupt government organization already or a corrupt alderman or alderwoman, which makes you supremely qualified to be mayor.

Now, let's scale the anger back a bit. The next two statements aren't lies. These are often said earnestly and offered freely with love and affection. The first is an impossible dream. Altruism in the face of economic destruction is plain idiocy. Sure, you could believe in these concepts but at the end of the day you are fighting for your success and to put food on your table for your family. That family which you are doing best for doesn't see you because you work too many long hours for not enough cash. They are the same family who doesn't feel safe, mostly because you vote constantly to loosen gun laws. They can't get the proper education they deserve because you know those same guys who keep the gays out of your bathrooms keep the money out of your schools. It's not the sentiment that is incorrect, but rather the means and the method.

Now, say this:
"I want to get mine."

Now, modify it a little.
"I want you to get yours, too."

Apply it to anything. Freedom, honesty, money, music, love, sex, drugs, alcohol, sports, God, Pizza. (especially pizza). Happiness, because there are too many motherfuckers in this world who don't want you to have or spread happiness. Change the world, by flipping the pyramid scheme, and empowering yourself and sharing that with those closest to you.

Then think about the things that it doesn't apply to. Killing, rape, bigotry, emotional cruelty, oppression. Those are all occasions where you got yours, but someone else is getting fucked over. It's not a deep thought to have, but it's a simple concept.

Cut out the bullshit and stop pretending that you are on everyone's side. Be on no one's side, be real and honest, and then start from there. Cut the bullshit, stop listening to it, stop repeating it, and stop living it. More often than not the truth shall set you free. Then you can say: I'm in a good place, how can I make everyone's else lives better.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Love and Hate

Life is hard. There is no eloquence or flowery prose to dress that feeling properly. It may be ironic that one needs to firmly grasp that concept to live a proper and full life as well. It's as essential as coming to grips with the idea that you will one day die and that everything around you does the same. It's not morbid, though rather quintessential to the pursuit of beauty, to acknowledge that life is brutal, cruel, and often times shorter than desired. This was the world before humanity became civilized (in some ways), and we have surely done many things to make life both easier to pass through and harder to live with. Our greatest common enemy is also our closest companion: the hate we hold in our hearts.

Hate.


Hate is a terrible word. Short, brutish, harsh, pointless. At what point did humanity decide that this word was even necessary. Can you imagine how fucking stupid the first person who said that looked? The only thing that can be certain is that the concept of hate is purely a product of human interaction. It requires the object to understand the emotion. One may despise mosquitoes. Mosquitoes do not give a fuck. Therefore, it is a pure human emotion, one that can only exist in the concept of our lives. Animals can be jealous, mean, indifferent, sad, but hating is purely ours.

It's not a young concept. A famous man preached against it in the desert thousands of years ago. He was killed. A man once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." He was shot. So maybe the downside of hate isn't the best idea to espouse. Humanity loves to hate. There are millions of people making ludicrous sums of money tearing people down. If any do, there aren't many making money building them up. To what end does hate help us live our lives. You could argue in favor of cynicism and skepticism, but at what point did hatred do anything except cut someone else down.

To avoid the hypocrisy that this surely reeks of, I must acknowledge the seething hate that exists inside of me. There is a long list of things that I hate, most of which would surely paint me as a decent person . It's easy to say I hate people who defend rapists, everyone on Twitter, stupidity, the one-percenters, or war. Less understandable is telling people you hate them without any justification, which I do from time to time. Perhaps belittling someone for their terrible beliefs is not the nicest of things either. I am remarkably well trained at insulting people, which at times crosses the line into darkness. So, this is less a lecture and more of a reminder for myself as well.

Fear.


Fear engenders the same reaction from most, but that comparison is unfair. There is nothing wrong with fear. Fear is a healthy emotion. Fearing death is beautiful if only because that means you love life. I won't shame you for fearing the city I live in, for that fear comes from the unknown. The monster lurking behind fear is hate. When people are spreading fear, they aren't trying to warn you to your benefit, they are searching for hate. Hate is the weapon that feeds on your fears and makes you weak. Weakness in turn allows hate to flourish, and the brutal cycle of humanity continues. One may think that hate makes them strong, protects them from external forces, but in reality, it tears you apart from the inside.

In essence, you no longer fear anything, but you instead hate everything. The vitriol that we spew is not a product of our fear nor our ignorance, but rather that purer bile that poisons our hearts. We all hate because we are all the same, which is perhaps the most ridiculous circular argument against hate. There is no reason to fear a human without hate in their heart; unfortunately, those humans are utopian creations without the flaws that make us beautiful and terrible to behold. A greater man than me said, "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." That is catchy. It also is terrible sentiment. Fear losing love, Fear bad health, Fear empty pints. Fear losing your inner child. Fear all of the hate.

Love.


Love is hard. There is no eloquence or flowery prose to dress that feeling properly. Many have tried, some better than others, most better than I. The struggle just to say "I love you", both indicates the importance of said words and the idiocy of humanity. Like all words, they are meaningless with the emotions laden into them. I still struggle to convey my affection properly, leaving too many beautiful things unsaid to the people I love. In turn, by withholding love, I destroy the majority of what I hold dear, be it relationships, friendships, family, and my life. So let me change my tune and tell you something; love is easy.

Living a life without love is hard. People thank God all of their lives for all of the little bullshit, but if you look back on everything beautiful in your life, the invisible hand is love. Without digressing too far, love is the only religion worth saving and the only God worth following. If you do not kneel at love's altar, you are not worth saving. Love brought you into this world, love will follow you out, and love will be the driving factor in your quality of life. I'm not even talking about romantic love, you know the one where you are in love and then you aren't like flipping a light switch. Romance where you sit on the same side of the table because you are insufferable or destroy another person to make yourself happy. Romantic love is hard, loving is not.

Love is the proper response to hate, though that may not seem natural or fair in practice. Pigmentation. Religion. Sexual Orientation. Political Affiliation. Money. All of these things which divide us are irrelevant without hate. To change FDR's statement for the better, say instead, "the only thing we have to hate is hate itself". Hate simplifies the complexity that existence brings. It cheapens your emotions, it lessens your triumphs, and it kills all the beauty around you and inside of you.

Love is an amazing word. Serene, succinct, feminine. It rolls off the tongue gently, embraces you in a hug. It gets thrown around pointlessly and yet still remains cherished. Perhaps, love is the most hallowed of words. It has no boundaries unless we create them ourselves, a wholly idiotic human tendency. Can you imagine how fucking brilliant the first person who said that looked? Can you imagine how much better life would be if we all were loving rather than hateful? Probably not.

Nevertheless, that doesn't stop us from trying it out on an individual basis. Love life, love other people, love passionate romance, love anything and everything. First of all, love yourself. Then approach the world with that love. I can't guarantee that there won't be sadness, pain, or death because these all come in life. I can guarantee that our lives when embraced with loving arms will be richer and more beautiful than the ones we are living right now.


Love is music, too.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Problem with a Post-Racial World

When people unaffected by racism talk about it, there is a aura of disbelief. This is inevitably followed by denial. These people tend to be white males who don't have any affiliation with anything remotely urban. They'll spout facts at you. Sure, more white people are killed by cops each year. They also make up a majority of the population, so this quite obviously is a loaded statistic. Sure, the world would be better if no one cared about racial equality. This is turn requires racial equality to exist. The final straw may be when they ask African Americans where the outrage is when they kill each other. Now, you've crossed a line into some insane world where you think the police are an equivalent of a street gang; or shooting unarmed civilians is the equivalent of a turf war, a drug deal gone bad, or a jilted spouse.

I'm not writing this to insult everyone by attacking their straw-man arguments. However, let's consider that you are right, and if there wasn't racism, all these problems would go away. This is probably the most fantastic of arguments because many of us just have racism ingrained in our being as a child. So personal racism is there and cannot be destroyed, but I could imagine a world without institutional racism. Racism is the product of people being assholes, racial inequality is the product of us putting the wrong people in charge at every level for perpetuity. For this exercise, if we imagine that there is no institutional racism, sexism, or homophobia, we can also imagine that laws guarding against those things are necessary. So, no more affirmative action, title IX, marriage equality laws, etc., etc.

The first thing one notices about this world is the lack of a story-line. Cop shootings draw attention to the plight of African Americans. Now, they are just poor and disenfranchised, part of the forgotten masses. In a sense, they are now the same as poor white rural Americans, but entrenched in an urban setting that does not allow for any upward movement and has far higher costs of living. While they are no longer targeted by police, they still incur the majority of municipal fines and tax penalties, which one may state shouldn't affect lawful citizens. Those "lawful" citizens have never had to choose between fixing a taillight and feeding their kids. Those "lawful" citizens are in better school districts in better parts of town, and got to go to college because of that. The poor cannot move into these districts, not restricted by skin color but rather by simple economics.

Secondly, the murders and drug problems that plague poor black neighborhoods do not go away. They are not a product of race; they are a problem of socioeconomic destruction. While the race element has gone, the ticky-tack nature of policing drug users continues. Parents still end up in jail, schools still lack funding, and kids are lost into the abyss that the hood becomes. Life is a vicious cycle, especially when in comes to economics. You may not understand how this works, but look at who we are. If you were born into a white middle class family living in the suburbs or a small town, now you have a white middle class family living in a small town. Upward mobility is a lie on an individual basis, and in a post-racial, world no one cares about pulling an entire group up. Sure, you could burnout and drop down a class, or be the .1% that plays sports, cheats their way up the political ladder, or is famous in some other way.

This is the crux of the people who would tell you All Lives Matter, that African Americans are no different outside of skin color. Nevertheless, that racism (both open racism and more insidious government actions) has changed the way our country's wealth is distributed. The ultimate differences between human beings is not their color, sex, orientation, nor religion. It's the amount of money that they can put in their pockets, and the means to have a legal way of obtaining that money. Racism and police violence are the tip of the iceberg. Eliminating those does not put money into poor neighborhoods, nor does it build them good schools, healthy grocery stores, health care options, and those churches that promote community pride, Equality is not people begging for hand outs; equality is begging people to strip off the chains of economic destruction.

That is the problem we face and why Bernie Sanders made such a push with America's youth. It is a post-racial problem for this generation, because rising costs have made even getting back to your parents wealth an impossible climb. So while the older generations worry about their tax brackets and raising rent prices, the youth of America is slowly drowning in their greed. The only difference race makes is that every African American gets caught in the flood, because we have systematically put them in harm's way since the rich, powerful Africans shipped them to rich, powerful white people. I don't want you to imagine being in their place, I want them to imagine being in your place and then have the opportunity to be whomever they choose. Or at least, to be as fucked economically as the rest of us. Like launching a rocket into space, the hardest part is breaking free of the inherent chains pulling us towards the muck, keeping us grounded.