This is why I am personally affected by the social and political climate and events of my country, why it is my nightmare, and why that stops now.
I have social anxiety and exhibit anti-social behavior because I am afraid of how the society around me will treat me. Throughout human history, including American history, if a person or group is labeled as different then they are treated worse by those around them. I am one different mother fucker. I am reminded of this constantly. I do not think or act the same as anyone I know. This isn’t in a snowflake, everyone is special way, either. I am literally told to my face all the time that I’m a total weirdo. Between my pink toes, tie-dye mode of dress, muscle-bound-psycho physique, and maniacal laugh most people probably think I have a problem. They’re wrong; I have many. They’re mine and I work on them everyday.
Recently, critical race theory and related ideas have advocated dividing and labeling people based on their skin color, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. American politicians and journalists have begun labeling opposing groups with increasingly hateful assertions while taking less and less time to understand the groups or people receiving their labels. Corporations and politicians have promoted hateful speech toward and oppressing expression of those with whom they disagree. The US government has had laws in place for almost 20 years blatantly stating they get to monitor all of our communication without our consent, and corporations are doing the exact same thing. WhatsApp, the ‘secure’ messaging app, just updated their terms of service to say that Facebook gets access to all user information now. An American can be fined and sent to prison for 20 years just for having a conversation in which they state they would physically resist the government. A conversation.
I could rant for days how these actions have been taken throughout history to hurt people, but I’m not writing about conspiracy theories or American politics. I don’t know or care at the moment if any of this is leading to the oppression of anyone. I am telling you that our society is becoming intra-oppressive. We are labeling each other hateful labels. Everyone is a terrorist, a fascist, or a bigot of another color. We are hellbent on telling each other how to act, think, and live. We are divisive and controlling.
When I walk my dog without a mask I get dirty looks for it. An older woman over twenty feet away from me on her own property outside in a mask made rude, hateful comments to me as I walked down the street. I have family members that think I’m stupid for thinking the logic in White Fragility is circular and the author’s ideas are harmful to our society. I can feel how they look down on me when we disagree about that or a church’s right to religious freedom. If I told most of the people I knew in my home state that I don’t believe The Bible they would say, “bless your heart,” to my face and, “that boy is going to hell. We can’t talk to him anymore,” behind my back. When I say religion is a good thing for society to my friends who are also non-believers they just skip blessing my heart and go straight for telling me I’m stupid. These people asked for my opinion before treating me this way. Well, except for the rude neighbor and the hypothetical conversation with my hypocritical youth pastor.
Our society has begun labeling personal choices and beliefs that do not affect others as right or wrong. Masculinity is now toxic. Gym membership is body shaming. Eating soy makes you a pussy. Believing in police reform makes you a leftist extremist. Believing red flag laws infringe law-abiding citizen rights makes you a fascist. Waiting until others get the vaccine first because you’re low risk and all vaccines have the possibility of long-term effects makes you an anti-vaxxer science denier. Thinking Amazon should treat and pay their employees well makes you a socialist while thinking a local store should get to decide how they handle their business means you want everyone to die of COVID-19. A belief can be better or worse and lead to happier or less happy living, but the universe has no objective ‘right.’
I am an alien on my home planet, in my home country. I am a nation of one with an apparently singular history of experiences, thoughts, and culture. I see the society which surrounds me becoming increasingly hateful and forceful. All I want is to live and let live. I want to be heard before I am dismissed instead of hated before I finish a thought. Society can think I am wrong, but it cannot tell me how I need to live my life. That is my choice. When corporations, politicians, and the military industrial complex make a gang to divide, label, and oppress their opposition it seeps into our social culture. If it is ok for a politician or a CEO to tell others what to think and how to act when it affects no others then it quickly becomes ok for my neighbor to do the same. This is already a reality.
I know I am completely too self-conscious about what others think before, during, and after I open my mind and pour it onto them. I hope my fears of being labeled by the government or corporations as the round peg that won’t fit their square hole never affects me more than the principle of it. I see all this hate and it has made me hateful and afraid. So I lash out like a cornered wolf. It is not a happy way to live.
I want to make social and political reforms in my home country because I want everyone here and across the world to live more freely and happily. It starts with us. The government should be an extension of the community. The community is not the product of its government. I am abandoning my anti-social tendencies of aggression and anxiety. I will no longer fear how others will treat me. I will not label or prejudge. I will not hold a grudge any longer. I never share a thought or feeling in anger again. I will make a change in this world. I will start with me, today.