For those of you that don’t live in the North East, New England has been having a glorious global warming fall. It’s been so unseasonably warm that I swam across the lake last week. That’s an hour-long swim that I took in late September – sponsored by Big Oil!
Because I live in the soon to be Tundra of New Hampshire, I’ve been trying to appreciate all these uncharacteristic warm fall days. I push it out of my mind that this is all a consequence of greenhouse emissions being trapped in the atmosphere, because greenhouse gases sound kind of environmental no? How can they be bad if the word GREEN is used to describe them?
On Sunday The Munch went to a birthday party, and I figured she would be so pumped full of sugar/GMO candy/cake that spending the afternoon at the playground wouldn’t be a bad idea. Munch climbed into the car with her bag full of candy, and I was emotionally prepared for her to eat the majority of it.
Munch: Mom, we got all this chemical candy from the Piñata at the birthday party!
Toni: I see that love.
Munch: I tried one piece and I didn’t like it. It was too chemically. I’m not going to eat this chemical candy. It’s gross.
Okay, first of all, I can’t believe my indoctrination has worked this well. My kid is so conditioned to believe that chemicals in your food are bad, that she wouldn’t even eat her Gummy Bears. I felt a deep pride that The Munch respects me enough to not only listen to my opinions, but also adopt my values as her own. Yet another part of me wanted her to eat all that chemical candy because fuck authority Munch!!!
Once at the park, I saw some friends collected together at picnic blanket. I went and joined them, happy to experiencing this lovely day in this quaint community. The whole scene was really sweet. Children playing in the sun, mom’s watching their kids frolic while talking about G-spot orgasms. You know, the usual.
We were having a good time is the point. Then somehow we started talking about the news and what was going on in Puerto Rico.
Friend 1: I think that I need to be more informed about stuff.
Friend 2: Ugh. I can’t. It’s too stressful. I only have so much empathy. It’s hard to have empathy. Things are always happening somewhere. It’s too much. That’s why I live here – in this bubble. I live in this bubble so I don’t have to care.
Okay so here is where shit starts to get allllllll fucked up.
Now I had a LOT of opinions about the above statement. A LOT! But I also didn’t know this person very well. It felt super awkward to disagree with someone so violently that I wasn’t even sure I’d met before – especially because we weren’t alone. It’s one thing to have a debate one on one, it’s another thing to school someone in public. And because I am such a people pleaser, it’s hard for me to knowingly make others uncomfortable. Yet at the same time, isn’t my being a people pleaser also about me pleasing myself because I don’t want to make myself uncomfortable because someone else is uncomfortable?
The second more humiliating problem was just like this person felt it was too stressful to know about the world, I felt it was too stressful to provoke an argument about the 2,000,000,000 ways I disagreed with her. Just like she wanted to live in the bubble of not caring about the rest of the world’s suffering, I wanted to live in the bubble of not having to care about a middle class white woman that thinks it’s okay to not care about the world because you live in a fucking bubble.
DO YOU SEE THE IRONY!!!!!
As much as she didn’t want to have to care about the world, was as much as I didn’t want to have to care about her not caring about the world. Just like she wanted to enjoy her day not giving a shit about Puerto Rico, I wanted to enjoy my day not giving a shit about her not giving a shit!
There was also this feeling I had of total impotence. I had no idea how to tell her that she should care about people. I felt the same impotence for that situation that I feel about the trauma that is going on in the world. The same impotence she probably feels about the trauma of the world. There is so much violence, destruction, and gratuitous misery. It’s not like I don’t understand that feeling of not wanting to feel. Yet even though I don’t want to feel, I still feel I have to put myself in the face of feeling.
Another one of my friends who shares my political beliefs was sitting next to me during this fateful moment. We both just got really quiet and looked down at the grass. My high functioning autism kicked in, and I refused to make eye contact. My social anxiety and fear of confrontation took over my physical form. As much as I wanted to scream, I also wanted to cry. The silence permeated the group. It was obvious that we didn’t agree, and my friend made the suggestion that you really don’t have to do that much to be a quasi-active person or be helpful to others. There were some vague agreements on that, and then the conversation shifted to food politics. If there is anything that white middle class people that live in a bubble can get behind, it’s organic farming.
I left the park feeling both traumatized caught off guard by this chick’s ignorance. I didn’t have the energy to say anything. I didn’t know how to change her mind, or express my thoughts in a way that wasn’t aggressive. So I helplessly said nothing.
This is the problem with humanity. We are sheep. Sheep that passively mill around, waiting to be devoured by the corporate and political systems we willingly allow to control us. Flocking about, unconcerned that the wolves lurking in the shadows are ones we’ve actively surrendered to. Yet expecting us to not be sheep may be unrealistic. Adaptation and sheepness have been a major part of our evolution. The fact that we are easily led around by the sheep dog we elect is why we were able to become the successful parasites on the earth that we see today. If humans weren’t sheep, there would be such constant dissent, bickering, questioning, and pontificating that we wouldn’t get much done. Because most of us are sheep, we can be easily organized and controlled. Being sheep is how we’ve been able have the so-called progress of the industrial revolution. There were plenty of sheep to work mindless jobs in factories. Our sheep ways have made it possible to for the few to control the many for thousands of years. We sheep have built pyramids, gone to war, and paved the way for John D. Rockefeller and Mark Zucerberg to have taken over our bodies and minds. It is our sheep ways that have been crucial for the invention of all modern technology and artificial intelligence so the robots will soon rule the planet.
Yet if we accept our sheep ways, that doesn’t mean we have to be ignorant sheep. We can be knowing sheep- sheep that are interested in evolving. The ability to adapt to our environment was a crucial part of our evolution at one point. The ability to adapt our environment to us was the next crucial aspect of our evolution. Now we have the need to re-imagine our environment because at this is exact moment the earth is trying to shake us off the planet like a wet dog with fleas.
All animals evolve. We are evolved animals. Now we have to become evolved humans.
If you are an American, you are one of the privileged people on the planet. If you are white and middle class, you are even more privileged. You can’t have the rational that you were born into a bubble and therefor entitled to stay in that bubble. That bubble was built off the blood of others. That bubble is not clean. No one deserve’s to live in a bubble.
I benefit off the imperialist and colonialist actions of the United States. Whether I want the government to be secretly destroying Yemen in a covert war or not, I still benefit off of those actions. Even if I don’t want poor black Americans to be incarcerated for absurd drug laws designed to imprison them and force generations into slave labor for the prison industrial complex, I still benefit from those actions. Even if I don’t want Puerto Rico to be drowning, I still benefit from our President refusing adequate financial aid.
No matter what I want to be happening, all the despicable acts of our government still benefit me, and therefor it’s my goddamn responsibility to give a shit. Poverty, starvation, lack of access to clean water – this is not how life has to be. These atrocities are in direct correlation to political corruption and greed, not because it’s inevitable. The world has the resources for every human to live a descent life with access to the basic amenities. The fact that billions are denied this right is a choice. It is because of misdistribution and a deliberate withholding.
In America, a large percentage of us can afford to learn and care about the well being of others. Most of us are not in survival mode, wondering if we will ever eat again. For those people, the 20% of American’s that live below the poverty line – I get it, you’re busy. You have yourself to worry about. That’s cool. You have the right to not tear your hair out because of global injustice. But for the rest of us, if you have time to be on Facebook, you have time to care and do shit for others.
Here’s the lake and sunset that day I swam across… it’s a pretty bubble