Taking a small rest from cleaning my place, I grabbed my phone. ‘I’ll kill a few minutes with Facebook…why not,’ I thought rather unconsciously. So I sat on my bed and clicked that little blue and white icon and there it all was. My feed is full of tragic images of the victims of the recent Orlando nightclub shooting. Stories by survivors are emerging. Deeply terrified people crammed into bathroom stalls and corners, desperate to hold onto life.
Donald Trump emerges with his wildly inappropriate comments about all Muslims (particularly immigrants, despite the fact that the shooter was an American…), the occasional radical Christian pops up in a comments section saying disgusting things about how “the gays were being judged,” and the gun control debate rages on. Another rape case sheds light on white privilege, particularly the “good ol’ boys club” variety. News outlets are overwhelmed. Competition for readers results in more and more “shocking” (read: click-baiting) headlines.
Now, the fact alone that DT is even a presidential candidate astounds me to no end. Koreans and other various foreign nationals can’t seem to wrap their minds around it either and are continuously asking, “…but why?”
Anyone who knows me has probably heard me say this before. I am not a nationalistic person. [Before you have time to say it, I’ll answer your questions. No, I do not hate America. Yes, I respect those who have served on America’s behalf. No, I do not think the way America does things is working]. Nationalism, while sometimes unifying for a particular demographic, is overall divisive. Even without physical walls blocking our view of the neighbors, mental walls are as high as can be. They. Them. Those people. My personal loosely held conspiracy theory is that professional sports were an invention of governments (and/or those who benefit financially from war) to get average citizens comfortable with the idea of hating the “other.” But this is not a post about nationalism, so take me out for coffee one Saturday if you want to get into that. All of that to say…despite my non-nationalism, I still consider the United States “home.” No matter where I go or what I do with my wandering self, I think I’ll always feel that way.
And right now, I am deeply saddened by my home country. Since my move to Korea, I’ve watched ‘America’ from afar. I have felt embarrassment, disappointment, and bewilderment. But today I felt defeated, and I cried for the lost lives, and the lives that are lost every day due to hatred and violence. I don’t want to argue with you about guns. But is it not obvious to you, fellow Americans, that other developed countries don’t have this problem? I don’t really care if you like to go hunting in autumn, if you own a shotgun or a rifle or a pistol or live in the woods. I grew up where you did. Please don’t be defensive. Something needs to change. I wish it were not so, and maybe in the future there will be greater peace, but for now violence resides in the hearts of humans. And it’s too easy to go gun shopping. Easier than it was for me to get a driver’s license. The combination has been deadly. In these “discussions,” I’ve seen too many people shouting at each other, and I haven’t witnessed enough people listening.
And that, I think is the problem. We don’t shut up long enough to listen to each other. We come to radical conclusions based on misinformation. We choose hate because hate is easy. We don’t choose listening, we don’t choose love because love is painful and difficult. It means we have to examine ourselves and maybe even admit we were wrong. Sometimes, it means we need to give something up that we’ve held onto for most or all of our life. I use the pronoun we because the problem is in all of us.
I don’t have answers. I’m not writing today to promote a specific viewpoint, not at this time. I’m writing because I’m heartbroken. I’m sick of the hatred, and I’m tired of the violence. I am writing because it’s all I really know how to do right now about it all, sitting over here on my bed in Korea. I am writing for my LGBT friends and my Muslim friends. I am writing as therapy for myself. With everything in me, I am sending love and peace into the atmosphere. With everything in me, I hope that we can stand by each other, love each other, and march bravely into the future.