I just spent eight days in Sweden, and the come down after that experience has been rough. Getting caught back up on the latest bizarro world news to come out of the United States is like waking up with a terrible hangover. We passed under the big airport archway that said, “Welcome to the United States” and were confronted with customs agents who fingerprinted and retina-scanned non-citizens. What the fuck do we need all that data for? “Why are you taking a picture of my mommy?” says the little girl in the creepy customs video playing on the monitors. “So we can make sure no one else is pretending to be her,” says the jolly customs agent, like something out of Starship Troopers.
We have a backwards country, looking back, back, back, no longer forward, withdrawing from climate agreements, willfully blinding itself to what’s coming, ensuring that the people here are wholly unprepared for the new reality. Our schools are being dismantled. Our access to healthcare is being further curtailed. To be lucky in this country is to be rich. We are descending softly into the 80’s dystopia I was promised, and I am very, very pissed off about it.
I am pissed off because this was not (and, to a certain extent, still is not) an inevitable outcome. We could have, still could, change this path. But the greedy folks in power see only half a step ahead, just like the greedy corporations that they represent. We are all just so much human fodder for the corporate machine. We are human resources, to be ground up and distilled for maximum profit.
I don’t like living in a country that voted to kill me by making healthcare effectively out of reach. I’m pushing 40 years old, and I’m fucking tired of having to proclaim my humanity to a government that believes God ordains who gets sick and who gets rich.
The pendulum shifted here on that election day. All the villainy that we had been denying and tempering down and trying to tamp out has been unleashed, a Pandora’s box of the very worst in all of us. There was no pretending that this is not a country built on genocide and slavery. At best, we get a civil war. At worst, a nuclear war. But the most likely scenerio is simply more of the same – the same long, slow slide into backwardness and superstition, sorcery and lies. We could be better people. We could take care of each other. We could realize that we are all only as good as how we treat those who have the least. My realization over these last few days is that it takes a profoundly terrible and violent event to make people realize how much they need each other. My fear is that the US is going to need to have one great glorious horror show here soon if we ever want to turn the tide away from extremism. They have to get what they asked for first. And that’s the part that scares me, because we aren’t all going to survive that. I will likely not survive that.
Being back here after being away is like being a lobster saved from the slow warming of the water, only to be tossed right back in while it’s boiling full tilt. It’s a slap in the face. A rude awakening, death by a thousand cuts.
My hope for the future doesn’t rest here, so much, as with other places. There’s a whole world out there, and as long as we don’t blow it all up, they were survive. They will endure. They will continue to know what we could not: that we are all in this together, and that our greatest enemy remains ourselves, and the very people we propel into power.