“I’d join the movement, if there was one I could believe in. Yeah, I’d break bread and wine, if there was a church I could receive in.” -Bono U2
I’m standing on a line in the sand. I don’t know how this line got here – but it’s here. I look to one side and I see a great number of friends, family, and loved ones. I look on the opposite side, and I see more friends, family, and loved ones. Why is this line here? I see people on both sides that want the same things in life. They want the same thing for their country. We want to love, and be loved by our friends and family. We want those people to be healthy and happy. We want homes for our families, with dogs, or cats, or nothing at all. Maybe just a couch to sit on after a long day at work. A work that we don’t hate. Something that pays enough, maybe even pays a little more than that, so we can fly out to see our family on the opposite coast once in a while. We want to bask in the love and glory of our faith, and not be made to feel wrong for having it – or not having it. We want to be able to eat and drink with prosperity in the homes we built with our jobs we don’t hate and our friends and family who we love. We want to be able to live our lives how we choose, and not be judged for our choices.
I look on both sides of the line and see you all, my friends and loved ones – the people in this world who I care about most – and you’re not talking. You’re just standing there on your phones feasting on your chosen form of social indoctrination that agrees with your side of the line- your beliefs. You’re refusing to listen to each other, and the line in the sand is becoming a valley, and I’m still standing here wondering where to go as the bottom falls away from me, leaving me hanging in suspension wondering which way to swing my arms – to my mother or to my brother?
So I look to my left and see you, my friends, my colleagues – my family. You stand with liberals, hippies, tree huggers, and college students. I look to the right and see you again, my friends, colleagues and family. You stand with conservatives, country folk, retirees and veterans. All good people who deserve to be heard. Americans who all want the same dream; the American Dream.
But there are other people here too, people who I do not consider my friends, family, or loved ones. People who I don’t respect. People whose voices are used to spread hate and false information. People who stand for fascism and genocide. People who use God as an excuse to exclude and separate. Organizations that use their freedom to speak about racism and wrath. Warmongering lobbyists who snort death and greed like drugs. Corporations who poison our water and air for financial gain. I see religious people, intolerant of any religion than their own, forcing their beliefs into homes and schools, despite what the Constitution says. I see millions of dollars being spent on denying rights to American citizens, forcing gay and lesbians back into the shadows that kill them. And I see Americans rallying behind the decision to strip families apart – calling Mexican children “vermin,” and joking that we should enslave them. These people stand on the right with my friends, my family, and my loved ones.
So I look left, and I also see organizations that are intolerant. I see lobbyist snakes and greedy corporations vying for power. I see politicians who rig elections and grandstand about false information. I see freedom of speech being used to spread hate towards the conservative right. These words fly over my head as I stand here watching the world slip away from me. I don’t like seeing these words thrown back and forth, I don’t like feeling this darkness in the air. I don’t like ANTIFA creating violence. I don’t like shady Democrats who use feminism as a tool to perpetuate their addiction to power. I don’t want to stand with those people either.
But despite all that corruption, I don’t see any Nazis on the left. I don’t see the KKK either. Instead I see a lot of environmentalists who don’t think it’s a good idea to strip our natural resources for monetary gain. I see a lot of people who care about human rights, regardless of race or religion. People who don’t want their tax dollars spent on war and excessive military spending. I see signs that say, “Love is Love,” and I agree with that! I see people who would rather sit in a field and cherish honey bees rather than spray them with deadly chemicals. If I need to choose, I’m going to choose to be by these people. Because I don’t see Monsanto. I don’t see the NRA spewing hate-speech spreading anxiety and xenophobia. I don’t see David Duke or Arthur Jones, and I don’t see Richard Spencer and his “alt-right” tiki-torch army. Those people stand on the other side, alongside my friends, my family, and my loved ones.
So… who drew the line?
I wonder how they can stand with these people? I wonder if they care or if they even know these people are there? Has their chosen form of digital indoctrination alerted them to the presence of fascists? Is fascism what they want? I pray for the face of our grandfathers and our fathers who fought and many who died to stop the spread of Nazi genocide. I pray their spirits never know the struggle I face in this modern age of twisted facts and biased information – that I am trying to decide whether or not a Nazi is something I should stand beside. I don’t think that’s something I can do.
Because I’ll never stand where fascists have their cake-and-eat-it-too. They’re Americans, yes. They deserve their Constitutional right to free speech, yes… but that doesn’t mean they’re right. That doesn’t mean I need to accept them, and I most certainly won’t stand alongside them. I feel uncomfortable even turning my back on a Nazi. Even as I stand here and talk about tolerance, and how much I believe in it, I guess there are some things that I will not tolerate. People who think all Jews should die are people I refuse to tolerate. People who think a person is a lower breed of human because of the color of their skin, I will not tolerate. I prefer to think of a great America as one who fought Nazis, not gave them a seat at the table. I wonder where my grandfather, an Army scientist who enlisted in WWII – I wonder where he would stand? On the side that stands together with Nazis, or the side that punches them? I wish I didn’t have to choose, but it’s pretty clear, if I had to make a choice… I know where I’d stand, despite the corruption that exists on the left. Because I can’t side with fascists, by every coil of my being. I need to side with people who care about human rights and the environment. I need to be with people who think America should care about the sick and the needy, and that my tax dollars are helping the world, not blowing it up. Even though I support blowing up anything that belongs to a Nazi. (I know, I’m a tortured soul)
I’ve been called a liberal, even though I don’t identify as one. (my pickup truck knows more racial slurs than I do) I’ve been called brainwashed, even though I avoid the news, questioning and researching as much as I can as I trudge through life in this modern era of information. I’ve been called an atheist, even though I never remove the deity from around my neck. I’ve been called all sorts of names by both sides of the line as I stand here and wonder where to go, watching the world fall farther away. I wish it would stop – the name calling, the constant falling away of reason. I wish I didn’t have to choose. I’d rather stay here in the middle and ignore the crazies… on both sides.
“There’s battle lines being drawn. Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.” – Stephen Stills Buffalo Springfield
I’m standing on a line, and I’m looking at you all. My friends, my family, and my loved ones. My American brothers and sisters, I see you, and I hear you. I wish good things for your lives and the lives of your loved ones. I wish you prosperity and good health. I am a happy and humbled man who loves his home and his family, and wants everybody in the world to feel the kind of fulfillment the American Dream has afforded me. I am a Union laborer who sweats and aches and earns a fair wage. I wish for everybody the feeling I get from my life, but I refuse to be divided from you, regardless of where you stand and how far the world slips away from me. I refuse to let an unknown hand draw a line between me and the people I care about most.
“Peace sells, but who’s buying?” – Dave Mustaine Megadeth
So I will stand here… on this line, and wait till the world comes back again. When you’re all ready, come join me. We’ll follow this line and find out who drew it. If a Nazi stands there, we’ll punch them in the fucking face and go home to our families, our friends, and our loved ones. We’ll drink some piss-lager from St. Louis and sing country songs on the porch till we puke. We’ll hike in the beauty of our National Parks with no cell reception and feel the regenerating power of clean air and water; the world will still be there when we get back. Let’s buy the ticket and take the ride, ho ho! Because the sun still shines, the birds still sing, and we’re all just hurling though space on a nuclear rock of recycled carbon, trying not to die. Let’s make it a decent ride till we do.