This morning I awoke to a changed world. In a week full of terror and chaos, yesterday was all about Pokemon, a simple break in an un-ending string of police lives and black lives and guns and politics and terror. A hurricane of terror cascading its dark waves and world of destruction upon every God forsaken soul in this land that I love. Yesterday was one thing, but this morning was entirely different.
I admittedly spend most of my time in my room, in bed, with Netflix and my puppies and I am perfectly content to ignore the entire universe. I work from home and in the literal middle of the night so my human interaction is kept to a minimum. Most of my days start with a hearty scroll on Facebook and a check-in with my friends across this country on messenger. Today my morning routine was no different, but what I saw was. A clear cut millennial generational outpouring of the idea that “It doesn’t matter why or how or who, the details are moot on the Dallas mass shooting as people are dead and dying and Lady Liberty is bleeding out and the only bandage to stop the hemorrhaging is peace and love.” A stark difference from what I would see in the rest of my day.
As my day commenced in the wake of an act of terror in my backyard (if you don’t consider Dallas an act of terror then you need to promptly acquire a dictionary,) I had errands to run and lunch to have with my boyfriend so I left my cocoon for a few hours. Mistake.
We ate lunch at a local cafe. One of those homestyle havens with 10 tables and 10 menu items and the same gum on the floor since 1985. On this particular day Montgomery Street Cafe was filled with a healthy subset of Fort Worth upper-middle class folks. White business men talking stocks, young couples with young children, a teenaged black dishwasher from Paris Cafe on break and us. Within the hour that I inhaled my cafeteria style mac-n-cheese and homemade mashed potatoes I overheard not a single conversation about the events of last night in Dallas. Waiters talking vacations to Chicago with obvious regulars and smiling at toddlers being fed by their moms. Life was still going on despite the hurricane of hell swirling just 30 miles to the east. Peacefully and beautifully, life moved on. It continued for us, no death, no tragedy, just people eating lunch in a diner, but somehow a different world.
I don’t make enough money to qualify for Obamacare. Read that again, a privileged white female, born in to a staunchly Republican family, highly educated and working two jobs, I’m still too poor to qualify for national health insurance. As an effect of my unhealthy lot in life and my lack of Obamacare I spend a lot of time in government healthcare facilities. For me, today, this meant picking up my medication at the local John Peter Smith pharmacy. If you’ve never spent time in a government healthcare facility, let me tell you, it will both give you a healthy sampling of the variety of individuals in your community and infuriate you simultaneously (which I must add are completely unrelated.)
On this particular day I walked in to a line of about five or six people waiting on their medications. A young white woman in her mid-twenties, a mid-thirties black woman dressed in her Academy Sports uniform, an older disabled Mexican gentleman and a middle-aged white woman sitting to my right, all stuck in a 20×20 room for the same purpose with the news channel fixated on the Dallas press conference and prayer vigil happening live. As I approach the line I find that the middle-aged white woman is holding court on current events, which is where things get interesting. She waxes un-poetic about her previous resume experience working in convenience stores and her disagreement with cops getting free coffee and sodas when they’re on duty. She continues with her distaste for the way the cases in both Minnesota and Louisiana are being handled. In her opinion both of these officers should be in prison, not on administrative leave, because “cops are no better or different than the rest of us.” It stopped me in my tracks as I felt the lava boiling up from my belly.
“Are you going to put on a flack jacket and protect my life and your freedom to say the shit you’re saying right now?” I hear myself say unapologetically. Of course her immediate response was a hearty, “Yes!” but I can assure you this woman was in no situation to don police gear. The conversation shifted after that, except for her to say how great America is because we can have differences of opinions exactly like this. Thank you middle-aged white lady, but the First Amendment granted me that freedom not your impromptu pharmacy court of order.
Alas, middle-aged white lady was not done holding court. Next on the docket was race. Lucky for me, thirty-something black woman took that one on, explaining that “race is an issue that is not going away and unfortunately, although she was raised to treat everyone equally, that’s where America is at right now.” I couldn’t have said that one better myself. Logic was obviously in short supply with judge and jury middle-aged white lady, because the next thing that came out of her mouth was “Why Dallas? Nothing even happened here, they should’ve shot the officers in the other states if they wanted justice.” Again, belly lava erupted out of my mouth.
“So now we’re condoning murder?!” Silence. Not another word from your honor middle-aged white lady. As I went to leave the pharmacy I heard the Mexican gentleman sit down and say, “You know none of those shooters had faith. I know that because if they were filled with the holy spirit they never could’ve done something like that.” After all of this rhetoric I left there a changed woman in a changed world.
I tell you these stories because I want you to see a tiny glimpse of what I saw today; opinionated, often uneducated, unsettled, terrified Americans who are far more a part of the problem than a legitimate solution for the storm we are all enduring. It’s unsettling, massively unsettling, to hear these opinions and “solutions” from a portion of a generation different from my own. An extremely striated gap between the older and younger, blacks and whites, financially stable and less so, but I digress.
As Texans and citizens of Dallas/Fort Worth our world changed today. Our peace and our home was threatened and we are far more a part of the problem as a nation than we a part of the solution. Conversely, I also saw a rainbow emerge in this unending monsoon. I saw a brief, yet solid, eye in the commotion, a united outpouring for love and peace and understanding. But, outpourings don’t create change, just as armchair activists and keyboard warriors don’t have any real bearing on the social and political grievances we are all bearing as a country currently.
Peace and love reigned supreme today, at least in my tiny universe, but the nagging opinions of the economically abused, wronged and just plain hateful will continously be thorn in the side of any progress for a utopian society. One thing is for sure in all of my adventures today, both in cyber space and reality, if we do not present a united front to this storm we might as well just drown ourselves. This is Hurricane USA and we created it and now we don’t know how to stop it and that’s a grim outlook no matter how much sunshiny peace and love you seek.