Personal Remix

Hello my darlings,

It’s a fairly well documented fact that while I am feisty af for people I care about, I, myself, am a doormat.

You’d think this would be something I hate about myself. The fact that I am very easy to dupe, and that I often get my feels stomped on.

But I really didn’t hate it. I liked that even though I frequently came across horrible people, I still maintained the ability to see the silver linings, to bounce back and find goodness. I liked being a borderline naive Snow White type person. I waited patiently for floofy forest creatures to help me fold laundry.

2016 changed me as a person.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Partly, I changed because I was struck down by an illness that keeps trying to kill me. (Rude, amirite?)

Mostly, it was the way the election seemed to lift the rock that was covering the people around me, and in their places, I saw the squirming, scurrying, slithering remnants left behind.

I live in a blood red part of a super red state. Indiana has only gone blue a handful of times in presidential elections, but in most counties, Democrats don’t even run. Candidates rarely even put information of their stances in ads, they just have to say, “REPUBLICAN!” and they know they will win.

I know there are people everywhere that take things waaaaay too far. I always sort of assumed they were the exception to the rule of civility.

When I was a kid, my uncle was family-famous for his unadulterated hatred of Democrats. Like, everyone knew you couldn’t even sniff around politics in his presence because he would get so worked up he’d start screaming at anyone in the family he considered to be liberal.

He once sent out an email to the family mailing list, written in the middle of the night as these emails often were, the result of him up alone, working himself into a ferocious lather over the betrayal of liberals. This particular email said that if he ever so much as suspected any of us were Democrats, we were dead to him. We were no longer family.

He died a few years later and my family members stood up at his funeral, recounting his hatred as though it were merely a whimsical anecdote. A charming facet of his personality.

I’ve never claimed a political party. I go where the ideals take me. I vote for what makes sense to me as a person, and what I believe is best for the people I know I share the world with.

That generally tends to fall securely on the liberal side of things.

Ever since I was a kid, I learned the two party system, while AMAZINGLY flawed, is our reality. I always hated the idea that each election, it’s a battle between right and left, blue and red. And one side will win, and the other side will be pissed for four years until the next election.

Little wee Summer had an idea that every presidential candidate should have to choose a VP of the opposing party. If we have a Republican prez, we get a Democrat VP, and vice versa. That way there is a balance to the power. You know that your interests are being represented to a degree no matter who wins. That there will be negotiation because it’s never one party with all the dice.

I honestly still kind of like that idea, ngl.

I was raised to respect differences of opinion. And I genuinely do. I will sit down and have a conversation with anyone about anything. I love to hear perspectives I’ve never considered on my own. To hear stories of lives I’ll never live. That’s how we grow as people. That’s how empathy generates.

That said, there are certain things I hold to be 100% true. Medical decisions should never be legislated. Gender and sexuality and identification should never be a focus of government other than to offer protections from discrimination. Most every religion is convinced theirs is the true religion, therefore, no religion should be used to base laws upon.

For the longest time, I was told, and believed, that it was possible to disagree with people on these and other areas of politics, but still respect the reasoning. And I did. If someone could rationally lay out their basis for something, I didn’t always agree, but I could see their position and respect the careful thought that went into it.

Somewhere along the line, people stopped carefully thinking.

Things became, “You’re wrong and I’m right, and God knows it!” or word for word rantings recycled from talk radio.

Example: At a family get together, my father-in-law, a public school teacher, stated that he would live a better life under Obama. That Obama and the Democrats are clearly better suited to care for educators. That he’d have more job stability and make more money and have more resources to teach.

“I know all that, but I still won’t ever vote for one. Especially one like him.”

I’ll give you three guesses what that him implied.

For the record, I don’t hold this to conservatives alone. I’ve seen some straight up liberal nonsense. Ask me how I feel about The Berners who to this day can’t say his name without masturbating to the sound.

I hold no patience for anyone who is content to live in a bubble and smugly declare their ALL KNOWINGNESS while being completely full of shit.

I, myself, lost my cool on more than one occasion. Apologies were issued. I’d like to blame a few of those instances on being heavily medicated, which, actually is true, but one instance in particular, I was just an asshole. I had never acted that way before, and I damn sure won’t again. I took a whole lot of accumulated rage out on a single person and I hope I never stop carrying the shame of that.

This brings me to people who were stripped raw by the stress of it all and took it out on people in tremendously unfair ways.

I actually get this. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t a hot damn mess by election day. It doesn’t make bad behavior right, but understandable, I suppose. I’d be willing to bet most of us let loose in one way or another that we regret at some point.

The difference is people who were able to take a breath, step back, and return to apologize, and people who doubled down harder.

Genuine apologies I will always accept.

I want to talk for a quick second about this bizarre phenomenon I kept running into during 2016: People, generally on Facebook, but in person as well, irate about Obama or Hillary or some Democrat, and they would rattle off some talking points.

But then I’d look further down on my feed and see someone else making a post with the exact same talking points, and I mean WORD FOR WORD, but every time, it was presented as if the poster had come up with those points on their own.

For months I studied this. When conversations in Facebook comments would devolve, I would see person after person regurgitating the exact same defenses and accusations, nearly always something untrue, and easily proven as such, but none of the people realized they were parroting. Not a single person.

I started showing screen shots to these people. Saying I knew they were getting these points from somewhere, a website, a radio source, Fox News, etc. and that they seemed to have no idea that they were literally just repeating what they had been told.

Several times it happened in the exact same thread. Multiple people saying WORD FOR GODDAMN WORD the exact same, wrong information. And even though the other people would be commenting RIGHT BESIDE THEM, they still didn’t see the overlap.

No amount of evidence ever convinced any of these people that they had been pulled into repeating thoughts that were fed to them, nor that the thoughts were wrong. They stood by them, and their creation of them, 100%.

That, my dear folks, was fucked up. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like talking to actual zombies and each and every one of them thought they were the first zombie to ever consider brains as a tasty treat.

It’s literally one of the most surreal pnenomeons I’ve ever seen.

So my ability to have differing opinions but respect their reasoning was coming to a rapid end.

I’m not a religious person. I used to be, but that ended when I was 16 and our new minister started quoting Rush Limbaugh from the pulpit and when I refused to denounce all other religions outside of our branch of Wesleyan Christian as bound for Hell, I was asked to leave the church I’d attended since I was an infant.

That said, I’ve had people in my life I look up to, religiously-speaking. I may be confused about God, but these people weren’t. I looked to them with hope. I considered them my spiritual guides. People that I could learn from, and maybe, hopefully, find my way to a peaceful place with religion.

And then 2016 shot that all right to Hell.

A family member who is a popular minister began posting horrifyingly false articles on Facebook. Things like Obama was setting up death camps for Christians all around the US and he was going to overthrow the government so he could stay in office and round up the holy folk to die.

This is a person who has parishioners and people who look up to them for guidance. And they were straight up LYING TO THESE FOLKS. A goddamn preacher. Using his position as a spiritual leader to manipulate his followers into fear.

Another family member, truly the most gentle and kind woman I know, began posting near hourly articles about Obama the Muslim terrorist, Clinton and their pizza sex ring, and, my personal favorite, how Hillary had been in a lesbian love affair with Yoko Ono since the 70’s.

I tried very calmly posting links to facts, and told her I was worried about her spending all day going further and further down these rabbit holes. That it seemed to be making her afraid and paranoid.

She told me she loved me, but she knew the truth.

I left her to her posts.

Then came friends, business associates, neighbors. People that have standing in their communities. People that others look up to. People who are trusted. People I truly loved and respected were constantly spouting genuine nonsense.

And these fools were posting over and over, things like Hillary supported abortions up until the 40 week due date. That Obama had written an executive order to ban all guns. That Hillary and Obama had passed an order to rewrite the constitution to make him King. (?! even.)

Things spiraled horribly. People got more and more upset. The more horrible things that came out about Donald Trump, the more people jumped out to defend him.

I mean, you know. You were there.

The day the “pussy grabbing” video came out? That night, my neighbors decided to put Trump signs in their yards.

They posted on Facebook that this was a direct assault on me, I’d put up a Hillary sign, after all, and I needed to learn my place, LOLOLOLOL.

But like…they saw a video of their candidate bragging about sexual assault and THAT is what moved them to publicly show their support? Enough to scurry around in the dark at like 11pm to find someone with extra signs to put up?

People started reminding me how many guns they had in their homes.

Someone showed up at my house one day. They’d been walking the neighborhood looking for my kids playing to find our house.

I had a horribly uncomfortable conversation with my kids the explaining they weren’t allowed to play in the houses of anyone in our neighborhood anymore without express permission and how they wouldn’t be able to play in the front yard as often.

After a particularly lively week in which one local woman demanded I admit Hillary and Obama had a machine funded by the Rothschilds that made the hurricane before the election to distract voters and steal the election (this was AFTER the election, btw.) and another charming fellow who posted 75 times in 30 minutes on my Facebook wall while I was in the hospital, opining how he delighted in his plan of forcing myself and my liberal friends to drink bleach and die, I’d had enough.

No, I don’t have to respect your opinions. I really don’t. No one does. If you can’t come up with anything but cartoonishly absurd lies to back up your beliefs? You get dick from me.

This is not a difference of opinion. This is not me lacking respect for your “God given right to vote.” (Which, by the fucking by, God didn’t give you shit to vote. That’s not under his job description, jeez.)

Let me say this again for the folks in the back: NO ONE HAS TO RESPECT YOUR BULLSHIT. NO ONE.

I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I’ve been the person who will talk calmly through any situation to keep things from escalating. I’ve been the doormat.

And maybe my mom is right, maybe things were better when everyone kept their opinions to themselves. When no one dared ask about political preferences.

But honestly, I would rather know.

I’d rather know that a business associate uses their position of power to scare people into voting the way they do. That a minister is willing to lie to his flock to support his agenda. That someone is willing to enlist their children to bully my kids to teach me a lesson about being a liberal in a red city. That people are willing to throw friends and family to the political wolves because they read that Hillary Clinton aborts toddlers while selling puppies into sexual slavery while simultaneously running a badass pizzeria and having kinky lesbian sex with Yoko all up on the bar.

I would rather know that people are so goddamn afraid of people who are different than them, that they let themselves be manipulated by fantasy. That someone I know and trust is so fucking afraid of gay folk or people with brown skin or any religion other than Christianity or any of the things that aren’t cishet whiteness, that they will contort reality and their religion to excuse their bigotry.

Maybe my patience ran out when it became an issue of putting energy towards accepting willful ignorance or keeping myself alive. Maybe my ability to turn the other cheek disappeared when I became afraid of being in my wheelchair in public because I didn’t know which of my townsfolk had decided to threaten my life that week and I couldn’t make a speedy getaway.

Maybe it’s because no one should have to look at racism and misogyny and ableism and bigotry and xenophobia and have to laugh uncomfortably and say that, SURE, we respect the difference of opinion and in NO WAY SEE THAT YOU ARE WRONG AND FULL OF HATRED.

Because no matter what happens with this dumpster fire of an administration, I can’t unsee what they’ve done. I can’t put the curtain back and pretend I didn’t see the shriveled, mediocre white dude pulling the levers. I can’t respect the disrespectful.

And that breaks my heart.

I’m angry that those people shape our country. I’m angry that they still think those things are okay. I’m angry that they don’t care who they hurt day in and day out because those people don’t look like they do. I’m angry that empathy has gone the way of the dodo.

I’m angry that there are people who turned pliable human beings into their own shit-flinging flying monkeys to sway votes and make money.

I’m angry that the goddamn monkeys have no clue they are monkeys.

I’m angry that they took one of the last purely innocent parts of my soul and squished it to death under a pile of rancid Breitbart articles.

I’m angry that people I loved turned out to be literal monsters.

I’m angry that I’ve seen myself turn into my own form of monster when trying to provide air support to people I care about.

I’m angry that none of them have any shame.

I’m angry that when I look at these people, that’s all I see. Flashes of red and disappointment that tastes like metal in the back of my throat.

I’d like to say you won’t like me when I’m angry, but alas…

But underneath that hulking green exterior I’ve grown, I do believe that the good guys always win in the end. Or at the very least, the bad guys get their comeuppance.

And I know that I’m not alone in mourning the loss of friends and family to an insidious 24 hour media cycle.

I’ve always considered one of the highlights of my being adopted is I know family isn’t about blood.

Sharing DNA doesn’t make someone a necessity in your life.

And yeah, I am sad about the people that have fallen along the way, but I am too old and too sick and too annoyed to spend a moment more than I need to on people who actively work to hurt others while clutching their pearls and holding their Bibles to their chests.

So, if you’re one of the people who has spent the last six months or more blinking at the relationships of yore and wondering WTF do we do now? Know that we are all here with you. We are out in this together, and we aren’t going anywhere. We won’t always get things right. We will screw up and learn and try harder next time. We will listen to people smarter than us and project the voices of those who need it most. We will adapt and grow and fight.

And we will do it together.

I hope you all are delightful and strong,

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and SMASH.

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