We, The People: Sunday Musings on Civic Responsibility and Cultural Cohesion. 

This is just a brief sketch, but I wanted to share it. It’s really too long for a social media post, but I think it matters. I may amend or add to it later.

 

Symbols Aren’t Reality

It’s time we turned away from the White House as a perceived beacon of hope, justice, or the embodiment of our cultural values. I say, “perceived” because beneath the surface of any administration there’s always shady shit to be found.

But the perception matters, here and abroad, because symbols and patterns matter to us, both as a species and a culture. So, do not look for leadership from this source on ecological, economic, and civic policy. Look closer to home. Vote for representation that truly represents your values, not that of a Party. This isn’t about straight up modern politics. We have to stop gorging ourselves on stories that political machines spin to sway our perception of reality.

The reality is this: we’re in trouble. We, as a people, have forgotten what actual community looks like and how it’s supposed to work. We are alienated from our neighbors, and use ultimately meaningless criteria to justify that as well as distract ourselves from what really matters.

We must remember that the planet will be just fine, whatever climate change we set in motion. The point of proactive policy in this regard is ensuring that *we* will be around to see and do. Because at a certain, fast-approaching point, we will no longer be capable of being alive in any significant species-focused way. That matters. Maybe not to you, but to future generations.

Taxes suck, but they allow us to maintain essential social and subsistence-based establishments. Oklahoma has been following the tax-cuts-are-great plan for a while now, and they can no longer afford to keep primary and secondary schools open five days a week. That’s just one tiny example. We could also look at the collapse of a major bridge on I-85, if you wanted something closer to home, Georgia.

Foreigners are scary when you think of losing what little you have. But they aren’t actually a threat to you. Anti-vaxxers pose a more significant threat than that family of brown people next door who speak a different language than you do. They encourage the propagation of preventable, virulent diseases among our most vulnerable populations.  The critical point of perspective in regard to the perceived threat of immigrants is this: Our country has always vilified immigrants, and yet, we have always been stronger for the waves of people bringing new ideas and different customs to our country.

Next time you find yourself saying or thinking something nasty about someone who is different, stop and ask yourself where that thought comes from. This applies to communities that are every bit as American as you, as well as those who’ve only recently arrived. The fear of the Other is a tool all politicians use, liberal or conservative.

So, fuck it. Stop being a cunt to others. Stop acting thoughtlessly. Stop trying to pin every cultural dysfunction on the perception and symbol of American authority. They’re stupid, greedy, and ultimately powerless if we take the authority to act and think and speak with integrity into our own hands. That’s not a coup. It’s a reification of the tenet that we, The People, are ultimately responsible for this place and this idea that is America.

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