There have been many reasons why I have stayed silent until now, most of them involving sheer exhaustion, and a considerable commute. But with every passing day, I find that my incredulity has grown at the sheer incompetence and buffoonery that is issuing outward from this nation’s capitol in what can only be equated to some sort of pus-filled discharge. As I lay down to bed, to put the day firmly behind me, I tell myself that tomorrow will bring reason and resistance, that this series of unspeakable events will not be allowed to continue any further.
And then I wake up and am shortly thereafter proven wrong.
During the primary season, I postulated that this country was sick, and that we faced three choices as to how we could address it. The first was to go and see a trained professional, take the damned medicine, and start to get better. Unfortunately, that option was removed during the Democratic Primaries (which caused me to think back on the anti-vaxxer movement).
Hillary, I said, was technically medicine, though more of the over-the-counter variety. A dose of DayQuil to keep us going another four years, and hoping we might rough it out before then. Here’s the thing: while not actually harmful, DayQuil can be dangerous, as it allows you to ignore your symptoms, which can potentially result in far greater harm. Alas, that option was also removed from us at the end of Election Day (much as Sudafed is kept under lock and key because people say you’ll use it to make meth).
Trump, I said, was the unabated fever. He would be the crucible in which we would find ourselves. Like a fever (which is the body’s defense mechanism), Donald Trump’s ascendance was a perfectly natural response toward an illness. But, also like a fever, if left unchecked, or if the illness is too strong, can be just as harmful. Trump would either kill us or cure us (and not in the way he might imagine).
We would either rally together and say, “No more!” (to continue the metaphor, rally the immune system and battle back against the pathogens), or we would cease to be (dead). We would face our finest moment of decency against unutterable vileness, or we would succumb to the lies and hatred, at which point, perhaps we didn’t deserve the right to be Americans anymore. Either way, we’d have earned our fate.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, I realized that I would not live in fear. Life was uncertain and terrifying enough as it was without stirring in an extra helping of existential dread. And when I moved down to California, and was exposed to a plethora of cultures and beliefs, I began to understand that, deep down, most people, at least on an individual basis are, more or less, okay.
But we all get caught up in our daily lives, our struggles with the little things (and larger), and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all more similar than not, want the same things more often than we do not. That we have more in common with one another than we might be willing to admit.
It’s far too easy to turn your frustration on someone you’ve been told is the root of all your problems, especially if it’s patently obvious, upon quiet circumspection, that there is no way that they could truly pose a threat to you. And yet we so rarely have even a precious moment to ourselves, that we allow the hatred to wash over us, and drag us out to sea. Even if we keep our heads, and can dismiss the lies out of hand, by the time we realize what’s going on, there’s nothing we can do.
Someone once said that it is possible to commit no errors and yet still lose. That someone was Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise, but that’s of no moment.
The fact is that we are facing a crisis of conscious on a national level, and the time to act has come. Do we allow ourselves to dream of a time which never was, back when America was Great (By this, of course, I am aiming a subtle nod to the reality that the Greatness of America was predicated upon the Misery of anyone who was White and Wealthy)? Or do we face ourselves at last, admit, once and for all that there’s a chance that the time for this nation’s greatness has not passed, but rather, has yet to come?
There is a darkness spreading through the Western World, in the form of imaginary shadows seen from out of the corner of the eyes of men who have proclaimed that theirs is the only “true” democracy. There has been a normalization of hate, a subversion of free speech, and false cry for equality demanded by those who have against those who haven’t.
This contest is not truly White versus Everybody Else, Straight versus The Entire Spectrum, Christian versus the Godless Heathens. It is, as it has always been, about those with Power and Money against those who would like to stop being Powerless and Poor.
It is not enough to recognize this threat, though it would be a hell of a start. No, it will take more than the shaking of heads and the despairing of fragile hearts. The time will come when there can be no other action to be taken but one bourn from the ragged wounds from which gush rivers of innocent blood.
Together, there is nothing which we cannot manage to accomplish, but as long as we accept the notion that there is nothing we can do, then we will fulfill that prophecy to its final letter, watching as we’re stripped of everything which we hold dear, and left with nothing but mumbled recriminations. And it wasn’t as if we didn’t know that it was coming. Or perhaps we just believed that it would never be our turn.
And when all we have left are words, let’s launch them, then, like a storm of flaming arrows toward the very heart of darkness, that their burning glories may light the way for Truth to follow.
Now is the time for action, before the price becomes too high. Let us remember words uttered from the past by people who sought to hold us down, and take them for our own. Let us look them in the eyes and Just Say No.
I often wonder how much longer it will take for the majority of us to stand together and demand what is rightfully ours. A push toward a livable wage is a beginning, but there has also got to be a call to reckoning of that multitudinous horde of corporate interests who are more concerned about the almighty dollar than the health and general well-being of their employees. I wish that I could say that this is a recent blight upon our nation, but the truth is that there has always been an aristocracy in these United States, and its members have only bestowed the bare minimums of liberty upon the rest of us to keep us docile, bedazzled by the illusion of self-determination. Everywhere I turn, it seems that it should already have been more than enough for us to have summoned ourselves to action, but it seems obvious that, despite foreknowledge of their plutocratic legerdemain, we have fallen into their trap, and turned upon ourselves instead of banding together and focusing upon the task of redressing tyranny. This is not to say that we do not have issues to settle between us, but it must be acknowledged that the tenor of the acrimony between each group and peoples has been conflated with a steady stream of malcontent-inspiring misinformation. If we are too focused upon the vulnerabilities of our brother’s throat, we are less likely to see the predators stalking us from just beyond the tall grass.
Our nation was founded as an excuse for the wealthy to establish their own base of power, beholden to no others, but in order to garner sufficient popular support, had to be framed in such a way as to appear to, by its very existence, afford protections and human rights to those who would otherwise have ever gone without. I don’t believe that it was the intention of those wealthy, white men to set down a culture of true democracy, but in their compromises made to rally the common folk to fight and die for their revolutionary cause, they inadvertently laid down the instruments of their own eventual dissolution, should we be smart enough to take the powers reluctantly granted to us, and throw their words back in their faces. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence is just as stirring today as it was centuries ago, and perhaps it is finally time to apply its passionate call to arms against the stagnation and incalcitrance of those wholly owned and subsidized mouthpieces for the interests of the ultra-rich. Of course, this will never, can never happen until we learn to set aside our differences and demand the justice which we’ve been promised since before we knew that Columbus was no hero.
I know, I’m going off the rails once more on one of my pinko commie rants. But, it seems to me that our institutionalized poverty, which is constantly attributed to the least among us, is nothing more than a tool by which those who have the most to lose by an equal redistribution of wealth are using to control us. The undocumented workers in fields who wither beneath the scorching sun are tangibly contributing to the benefit of a nation which tells them they are categorically unwanted, while the CEO’s with golden parachutes inflate their own importance and subsist upon the blood and sweat of the faceless masses forced into wage slavery because they’ve got no other option. I mean, which seems more likely: That it is a group of people living so far below the poverty line that even the notion of approaching is tantamount to achieving the American Dream are the ruination of this country, or that said designation belongs to a handful of wealthy, self-important figureheads who can hire high-priced loophole seekers to ensure that they pay the bare minimum of what they must, while demanding ever more compensation for such illusionary doublespeak as “synergy”? Meanwhile, we are set upon each other, fractured into tiny mobs lined up along the issues which weren’t all that divisive before we were told that they must be, too busy focusing on what we imagine (or are told) that our invented adversaries possess to ever make a concerted move against our true nemeses.
I would like to see one week where no one goes to work; where we the people shut down the entire country and demand a higher standard of living. Let the immigrants and citizens stand together, the blacks and whites united; straight, gay, transgender, bi, all gathered for the common purpose of demanding recompense from the broken system which we’ve tacitly empowered through disaffection and ennui. Let us join with the Native Americans in calling out the government on its history of mendacity, and the men shout loudly with their chromosomal other halves that no one should be paid less than one hundred cents on the dollar. We have been fed the tale that the United States is the Greatest Country in the World, so let’s throw their hyperbole back into their faces, and demand to see this country which we have been told we occupy. As it stands right now, Americans are truly only exceptional in our ability to look the other way, and think only about ourselves. We allow ourselves to get caught up in whichever manufactured scandal that we’re supposed to give a shit about today, unable or unwilling to think past the talking points and do anything other than impotently rage that there is nothing we can do to change anything, because what difference can one person truly make?
Eventually this revolution will arrive: it’s only a matter of time. There are only so many distractions and misdirections which we will endure before we are left no other option but to shout loudly that we will tolerate this no longer. So why start now, you might rightly ask, if this change appears to be inevitable? To that, I would only respond, How many children must die, either in body or soul, before we are willing to do something, anything about it? How many must continue to suffer before we’ve finally had enough? And so I sit, deafened by the Cacophony of Wonderment which screams it futility into my ear, and wonder what it will take for me to start to make a better world for my son and grandchildren to inherit when I’m gone.
What exactly is the American Dream, anyway? The answer changes with every person you ask, but the general feeling is that, if you just work hard enough, sacrifice enough of the best years of your life, you will be rewarded with a modicum of prosperity. It used to be home ownership, but that now seems out of reach for the majority of us. It used to be a family, but many among us fear that they do not have the resources to provide for said offspring, so they are abstaining. It used to be the notion that you could work one job and provide for yourself, and for those who depended upon you, but that hasn’t been achievable for decades. Maybe it’s that your voice will be counted in this representative democracy of ours, that is, if the politicians haven’t managed to redistrict you into obscurity, or allowed themselves to be purchased wholesale by corporate interests, more concerned about short-term profitability than long-term sustainability. And besides, at this country’s founding, the only people allowed to vote were land-owning white males, so the idea that your vote actually counts is a recent notion, and delusional, at best. The American Dream, whatever it may actually be, seems more like a fever-induced nightmare for so many of us at this point, that maybe it’s finally time that we wake up.
Do I love my country? A silly thing to ask, especially on her birthday, but a question without an easy answer. In regard to the ideals for which this nation stands, at least to me, then yes, I would have to say that I do. But in practice, I cannot even bring myself to acknowledge it as we pass one another in the frozen foods aisle of the discount supermarket. Maybe I am only so disappointed in the land of my birth because I see just how far we apart we stand from those ideals, and how we’ve let ourselves be led into civic impotence by the flow of money and retention of elected officials who have only their pocketbooks and status in mind as they consistently fail to enact any legislation which might actually benefit a larger swath of people than the super-rich. I understand that one might feel beholden to the money which got him elected, and which he’ll need if he wants to get elected again, but the disparity is glaring, and the only reason that no one can do anything about it is that we are constantly pitted against one another, squeezed forcefully into arbitrary boxes and told that anyone who disagrees hates America, and that it’s up to us to save it, while also being reminded of just how little our voice matters, in the grand scheme of things, so why even bother?
George Washington was unabashedly against the division of our representatives into political parties, saying of the political party:
“It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”
He saw what the parties of the day (Federalist and Whig) were beginning to represent, and he tried to speak out against it, much as Eisenhower tried to warn America about the looming threat of the military industrial complex. And, much as it was with Eisenhower, the warning was generally ignored. Both the Whig and Federalist parties managed to implode, giving rise to the Republican and Democratic parties with which we are currently burdened today. Never mind that the stances of the parties at their inception more resemble that of their opposition, these two juggernauts have been on the national stage for so long, it seems unlikely we will ever rid ourselves of them. And while it continues to require obscene quantities of cash to even entertain the notion of running for office, national or otherwise, I don’t believe that we will ever be free of them. They are large, unwieldy beasts, the both of them, able to direct gushing rivers of capital toward the candidates of their choosing. There are very few examples of independents (outside of very local markets) who have ever hoped to compete against these two storied institutions. And so third-party candidates are most often relegated to the role of the “vote-splitter”, should they even make it to prominence on the ballot.
Here’s the thing: we are not the sum of the issues which our political party has decided for us. I know Democrats who like guns, and Republicans who don’t hate gays. I know Democrats who believe in a god, and Republicans who don’t much care for war. No one whom I’ve spoken to thinks that our representatives are doing even close to a decent job, and I can’t think of a single person who likes the fact that abortions exist. To be clear on that last point, abortions are never anyone’s first choice. They are invasive procedures that can (and have) scarred the mother, emotionally and physically. And yet, sometimes they may be necessary. It is up to the woman to decide. But no one, I believe, would prefer to use abortion as their preferred method of birth control. The point is that we do not always toe our party line, and often are forced to vote for people who are the lesser of two evils, sometimes just to prevent a political majority in one or more houses of Congress. It shouldn’t be this way.
My solution is to abolish political parties, get corporate (and yes, union) money out of elections, publicly fund candidates equally, so that we can vote our consciences instead of checking a line of boxes based upon whether they are preceded by an “R” or “D”. I also think that representatives in Congress should make no more than the minimum wage in their district, and have access to only the benefits which are available to the worst-off of their constituents. This, of course, will never happen. There’s too much money to be made in the purchase and ownership of congresspeople. But I don’t think that we will accomplish anything close to resembling an American Dream for everybody until we do something.
In this most recent push for equality, I am left with a particularly bitter taste in my mouth. It is a source of shame for me that we are living in the twenty-first century and it is only now that we have seen a push for equality in the United States. And, to be fair, it’s only the tiniest bit of equality which we are addressing: marriage. In many states, you can still be fired for being gay, or killed without any repercussions depending upon the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status. Hell, if you are born without a penis, you are forced to go through life subjected to the judgments about your body and your sexuality by people who will never have even the slightest conception of what it means to be a woman. I am a sensitive, intelligent human being (with the soul of a clown, which forces me to blow it at the most crucial moments), and even I cannot fully comprehend even the smallest struggles which more than half of the world’s human population must face upon a daily basis. I mean, I can understand them in theory, but I do not truly feel them as my own. With so much injustice left to face, it seems almost ridiculous that we had to waste our time on something so obvious as letting people marry.
Just to be clear: I don’t honestly care about gay marriage, insomuch as I am not gay, and have already gotten married. If two people love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives together, who gives a shit if they make it official? It’s not about what it says in the Bible (unless you also believe that women are property and pork is a bad thing): telling people what they can do together in the privacy of their own homes seems socially retarded to me. Unless you are madly in love with someone (who had not yet reciprocated your amorous displays of affection), and that someone is just about to say, “I do” to someone who isn’t you, then the marriage of two people who aren’t you doesn’t affect you in the slightest. And even if you are suffering from unrequited love, sometimes that’s just how it goes. I’ve been a hopeless, romantic poet for long enough that unrequited love for me is just another way of saying breathing. What I believe that it all comes down to is that people don’t approve of sex between two (or more) people of the same gender. I mean, I guess a lot of them don’t believe in any flavor other than vanilla, either, when they go to Baskin-Robbins. But I’ve got something to say about that as well: If you haven’t been invited into the bedroom of a consenting adult, you really don’t get a say about what goes on in there.
That being said, I suppose there are some people who are genuinely disgusted by the notion of anybody having sex. I would imagine that these are the same people who write letters to various representatives, governmental agencies, and applicable corporations to complain about something which they’ve seen on the television, demanding that it be removed from the airwaves, instead of simply changing the channel. I’m not interested in the slightest bit about any of the Kardashians (well, I think that… Kourtney(?) is moderately adorable, but that’s only because my daughter usually keeps the E! channel on in the living room), but I’m not about to call somebody on the phone and demand that their television program be removed simply because I don’t much care for it. I know how to change the channel. I don’t get to decide what other people get to enjoy. As long as what someone else is doing isn’t actually harming anyone (a case could be made for the harm caused by “reality television”, but that argument is for another day, preferably when I demand that everyone should be watching Star Trek), why should it even matter what I think about it? Of course, these people are quick to jump to their inalienable right to discriminate because of what their holiest of scriptures says. They have a duty, you see, to protect us from everything they think their God might have a problem with, as if he were not, in fact, omnipotent, and capable of sorting everything out for Himself.
But here’s the thing (which I’ve said before, and will most likely say again): if people are so against marriage equality because they think that it is a virtual endorsement of the kind of “lifestyle” which they abhor, then I feel that I must pity them for having been so wrong. The quickest way to stamp out this rash of homosexual coupling is to encourage gay marriage. Sure, the honeymoon will be filled with all sorts of tender moments, but nothing kills the romance like facing down the reality that you’re going to be stuck with the same person and their jiggly bits forever. If you want to end the scourge of homosexual sex, get them to put a ring on it. The same thing goes for all the other “deviants” out there. Nothing puts the flames of adventurous relations like a long-term, monogamous commitment. Or, I suppose, these people could just get over themselves and pick something else to work themselves into a lather about.
It all comes down to whether we believe that we have the right to tell other people who they have to be. I don’t have that right, and I can’t claim that I am being persecuted if no one lets me enforce my vision upon everyone who might disagree. It’s disgusting that we’re even still having this discussion, and the fact that we’re having it at all is progress. I don’t care about gay marriage, because I don’t care about marriages that don’t even tangentially affect me, and if one of my friends gets married, the only thing I care about is if they love each other and treat each other well. End of discussion.
I must be feeling better today, because I am pissed off and feel it necessary to share it with the world. I know that depression and rage are opposite signs of the same coin, so I’m not getting my hopes up too much, but I still feel that’s it’s a good sign that I can turn my rage back outward. There were two things which set me off this morning: my lovely daughter, and some anti-vaping propaganda. Being upset with my daughter is nothing new; we are usually arguing at least five out of every seven days. But seeing the nonsense about the dangers of e-cigarettes is something that is not only irritating, but fundamentally confounding as well. The entire point of vaping is to avoid the public health consequences of secondhand smoke. It’s times like this that make me want to hurry up and find that time machine so I can pop back to nineteenth-century London and nip in for a lost weekend at one of their many fine opium dens. I totally look scruffy enough (or, I did before I shaved in preparation for a call regarding an interview which never came) to pass for one the intentionally befuddled.
I get that nicotine is bad for me. I knew it growing up, when almost everyone around me smoked. I remember restaurants with “smoking” and “non-smoking” sections, separated by only the slightest hint of air conditioning between them, if even that. Hell, my mother even smoked while I was gestating in the womb! I also remember when she finally gave up smoking, and the unrelenting waves of anger and irrationality which consumed her. I mean, the prednisone didn’t help, either, but apparently she needed it to breathe. On a small side note, I have never met someone even remotely tolerable who was under the influence of prednisone, and the prefix of “pred-” always makes me think of some sort of cantankerous lion who not only wants his evening meal, but intends to make it suffer for the trouble of having had to catch it. I remember jumping on the anti-smoking bandwagon when that was a thing, and lecturing my entire family about the health risks involved with smoking. Hell, I was doing this before the major talking points included the health risks which smoking posed to others! I still wound up smoking, though, as I was kind of weird, and desperate (though I would never have admitted it) to at least appear thirty percent cooler.
And I know that I should give up cigarettes, as they are most likely not making my life any easier. I’m tired of the recriminations from my wife and son about the smell, and the need to have just a couple of moments of peace and quiet to myself. I’m also a bit weary of standing outside in the pouring rain when I need to have a smoke (though if it would fix the drought, I’d gladly suffer this more often). If I’m at a bar, I hate that I have got to get up and go outside to light up. I would understand if it were a vegan restaurant, or Whole Foods, but it’s not like alcohol has no ill effects. It can destroy a person’s liver and their life, as well as those around them, if they get behind the wheel after tossing back a few. And yet there is the push to demonize smokers for having fallen victim to the evils of tobacco. And now that e-cigarettes have addressed the issues of secondhand smoke inhalation, what are the anti-smoking people doing?
They are pushing to ban “vaping” (also, can we get a better verb? Vaping sounds… vaguely dirty) in the same places where smoking is not allowed, saying that seeing people puffing on a simulated cigarette normalizes and implicitly condones the act of smoking for the youngsters. I would like to remind everyone that these products are still only to be sold to those people who have achieved the age of majority. These are still legal products. But even that is not enough. Now they are pushing an ad campaign stating that there is enough nicotine in the bottles of the e-cigarette solutions to kill tens of children! You know, if some idiot leaves the bottle unscrewed, and out where his kid can grab it. Maybe it’s just the background level of annoyance which I’m feeling so viscerally today, but it seems to me that if a parent leaves that sort of thing out where their kid can grab it, maybe it’s time for natural selection to do its job. Kids will get into literally everything. That’s the point of kids: they exist to teach you how to cram everything you own up onto shelves which they cannot reach. Never mind the cleaning chemicals which are far deadlier, which have not been outlawed yet.
If it was a matter of protecting children from accidental death, why are guns still legal? Oh, because that would infringe upon a person’s rights! Never mind the ridiculously high number of gun deaths, accidental or intentional, in the U.S. compared to the rest of the entire world! I’m not saying that guns should be outlawed, at least not right now. Let the world have its toys which were created as a means to kill people more quickly and efficiently. I’m just saying that it’s kind of bullshit to go on crusades against an “easy target” when there are bigger fish to fry. E-cigarettes, at least at first, were an elegant solution to a public health crisis. They addressed the health risks involved with smoking (as in, inhalation of combusted plant material), and offered up a way to help some people give up nicotine altogether. But there is no tax money involved in actually getting people to stop smoking, and that’s the real reason for the fight against e-cigarettes. We already have exorbitant taxes of tobacco products, both as a disincentive to smokers, and as a measure of relief to a burdened health care system (at least on paper), but as the manufacturers and vendors of e-cigarettes have rightly pointed out, their products are not tobacco, and therefore are not subject to anything more strenuous than the standard sales tax (where applicable).
I’m not saying that e-cigarettes are healthy; I’m pretty sure that the voluntary consumption of nicotine will never be a good idea. But they are a healthier alternative to smoking, both for the user and for those around him. There are not a whole lot of regulations right now in the e-cigarette liquid industry, and therefore there isn’t a standard set of chemicals for the FDA to use to determine the effects for the use of e-cigarettes, for both short and long-term use. When the findings are announced, if it turns out that they are somehow worse than traditional cigarettes, I will join the push to make them safer. If they are deemed equal in terms of health risk with cigarettes, I will still say that they have eliminated the issue of secondhand smoke, and therefore the need to ostracize and dehumanize smokers. And if they are deemed safer than standard tobacco products, I would like everyone who has been trying to get them banned to just go ahead and shut their bloody mouths. And just so you guys don’t think that I haven’t been paying attention, here’s a link to the FDA page in question.
Now, onto the issue of my daughter: I hate when she buys something, insists that no one but her can use it (while she and my son-in-law happily consume the meals which we prepare and share with them (not to mention that when they cook, they cook only for themselves) because we are a family), and then winds up just throwing it into the garbage. We have thrown out so many pounds of what had been perfectly good food that, in the time she has been living with us, it has probably weighed in at an actual ton. I’m just mentioning this because I needed to use something off-label to help fix something in my son’s mouth because he is a little terrified of almost everything, and if something isn’t done about that dead tooth, it’s going to throw off the entire balance of his mouth, not to mention, put his entire jaw at risk of serious infection. There were three unopened cans of the product which I needed (of those, I only required one), but she handed me the empty canister, and then demanded that we pay her back for it. A small amount of sleuthing led me to discover that not only had that can expired back in April, but the other can of the same brand had expired a day later. She would rather throw things out than either learn to properly shop for groceries, or relearn the lessons which she had apparently missed in Kindergarten. Whatever.
I’m mainly writing this for myself, because there are times when I just cannot bear to feel the overwhelming sadness any longer. I look at the long history of institutional violence in this country of mine, and I think that it is simply too much, too ingrained to ever hope to change. Our politicians have long since let us down, sold us to the multinationals who finance their campaigns. The police view everyone who dares speak up as a clear and present danger. Our military is engaged in diplomacy by drone strike, draining billions from the budget while failing to make the world a safer place. I am white man in mid-thirties, straight, and doing okay for myself. I should be the beneficiary of at least some sort of pandering, and yet even my voice is not enough to give consideration, let alone the voices of those far less fortunate than I. We have been marginalized and dehumanized, and told not to rock the boat. We are products to be bought and sold so that the ultra-rich can sleep in peace, and are kept comatose by shiny new distractions which we kill ourselves that we might have enough to buy them.
The only things which keep me going are a faith in the notion of what I believe this country might one day stand for, and the future which my son and grandchildren will otherwise be forced to endure. The system is broken. In a nation of riches, there are too many people who don’t even have enough to be considered poor. And while the folks in our nation’s capitol spend what little time they have allotted for their taxpayer-funded duties screaming about the legislation of morality, their words are undercut by a complete disregard for anyone who doesn’t live like them. It’s easy to say that all politicians are corrupt, and then do precisely nothing to change it. It’s easy to believe that if you don’t break any laws, the cops will have no reason to come calling, until, one day they do. As long as you aren’t the one oppressed, it’s easy to ignore the suffering of others; they must have done something to deserve it.
I’ve heard that from my family so many times it makes me sick. They agree that the police might be a little heavy-handed, but spout that privileged, clueless nonsense that if you don’t want to take that chance, then you better not do anything illegal. It doesn’t work that way, in the same way that corporations don’t generally change long-held policies for the benefit of their workers or consumers until they forced to do so. The Free Market will sort everything out, I’m told. Tell that to the polluted air, the warming climate, and the water we can no longer drink. Tell that to the barely-teenaged workers making dirt cheap crap that we don’t need half a world away. Tell that to the parents working several jobs just so that they don’t have to choose between a place to live or food to eat. And pray they don’t get sick. We are the property of other men.
Those who would represent us have sold us for blood money. The employers to whom we trade away the best years of our lives will only care about us as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. The moment we are no longer profitable resources is the moment when we are discarded. Local governments are funding themselves on the backs of those who can’t afford to pay, saying that they’ve lowered taxes, but then criminalized with monetary penalty the act of being poor. They ship us off to prisons which somehow got privatized; for-profit institutions that require a constant influx of new product. We are told that we don’t matter. We are told we have no worth. We are sold the lie that if we can just work hard enough, the world can be our oyster, and then criticized for laziness upon our inevitable failure.
But there is a glimmer of hope: It doesn’t matter it it’s always been, it doesn’t have to be this way. We are a species that has proved itself capable of eradicating some disease. We have put people on the moon. The moon, damn it! We have connected the entire world and found inspiration there. We have shown that we are capable of being so much more than the mere sum our genetic code and history of aggression. Before the clock runs out, before there’s nothing left to save, we need to find it in us to stand together and cry out, “No more!” It’s not about the individual. It’s not about the cliques. We are bound together by the very nature of our lives. And not just us, but all life on this planet. We’ve had our chance at infancy, and we’ve since outgrown our childhood. We’ve faced struggles in pubescence, and now the adulthood of our species is upon us.
We are kept isolated so that we can’t unite, for the power of a people demanding justice with one voice cannot be silenced, and those who would slaughter us just to keep the status quo know it. I know it seems too big. I know they seem too powerful. I know that it looks like things will never change. I didn’t add my voice when they were Occupying across America because I was too worried about the repercussions. Not that I would be arrested, or mistreated, or harmed in any way (I was born with mithril pigment in my skin), but that if I left my job to go and stand for what I felt was right, that my family would be forced to suffer for my idealism. We all have things which bind us to them and keep us from acting for the greater good. Except that when we do not stand, and do not speak, and do not defend the things we truly value, we will discover that those things which we thought we were protecting have been nothing but shackles all along.
It’s so easy to let someone else stand up to do the difficult things which must be done, but we don’t need another martyr. Let’s stand together and face down the darkness, hand in hand. No more! No more!No more!
I stand by what I wrote yesterday, but it seems that I left out some people in my scathing rant about civility: the people directly responsible for these protests. When it is your job to safeguard the populace, and yet nobody seems to trust you, then you’re doing something wrong. Too many people are winding up dead, and the use of lethal force has gone from a measure of last resort to the first line of defense. And local police departments are stocking up on military toys, excited at the chance to play soldier like they did when they were kids. It leads me to wonder exactly who they think that they’re protecting and what noble cause it is that they might be serving.
I get it though, we’re all afraid. If I was convinced that someone posed a clear and present danger, I would want to eliminate the threat which they might present. And who seems to be enraged toward law enforcement more than the specifically targeted, determinedly profiled (by said law enforcement) populace of African Americans? I mean, especially in areas of extreme poverty, who knows if they will be packing heat because they have committed to a life of crime? So the cops shoot first, and fail to ask a single question, or they beat someone past the point of no return, and then leave them alone to die. I mean, they’re terrified, right? And instead of trying to figure out why exactly that the citizenry might be (justifiably) upset, they do their best to tear them down, dehumanize them, so that they might not feel so foolish when they sprint from shadows. It’s easier to believe that you are slaying dragons than committing crimes against the people you are sworn to protect.
And before I get torn down for suggesting that police are animals, let me be clear: not all officers of the law are guilty of these crimes. In my life, I have met several decent men and women of various police departments who genuinely seem to care about those in their jurisdiction. But theirs is a profession of high stress and higher risk, where their lives are on the line in any given moment, and that tends to foster a protective group mentality. Like soldiers, or firefighters, the team is what you’re loyal to, as it is the team which is primarily responsible for making sure you stay alive. Unfortunately, this means that even good and decent people tend to overlook the heinous actions of a few, in the name of fraternal unity, until those actions become institutionalized. The vast majority of law enforcement will not turn upon their fellow cops, and even when it happens, the punishment is oft-times muted, or reflected back upon the accuser.
Well, that’s not good enough anymore, if it ever was. The police are afraid of the people that they are sworn to protect, and those same people live in constant terror of those sworn to protect them. The deck is stacked against each and every one of us (though more against the majority of minorities), with legislation regulating more and more of our private lives. We are becoming, the lot of us, outlaws in our homeland. It is not a crime to be born Black. It is not a crime to be born poor. It is not a crime to not speak English. It is not a crime to love another person (who has attained the age of majority and is capable of and willing to give consent). I was told that the United States of America was the greatest country in the world, a land of indomitable people of vision and tenacity, a leader in the world, last of the great superpowers. And yet we lock away our citizens by the millions, and bleed others dry to pay the bills. We tell them what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their own homes. We are a nation of hypocrisy, and maybe we always were.
It’s not enough to blame the bad cops who go out and hunt their prey. It’s not enough to blame the rioters for having endured more than they should ever have had to. While there are cops who go above and beyond the call of regulations to go out and “make the world a safer place,” the root of the problem does not lie with them alone. For over a decade we have mutely witnessed a stripping of our rights away, all in the name of “keeping our nation safe.” That’s not to say they weren’t being eroded long before, just that about thirteen years ago, there was no longer a need to keep it hidden from public view. Our representatives have taken it upon themselves to try to criminalize that which they do not understand. Add in an aversion to scientific fact, and a tendency to view the world in black and white (and the everflowing holy shade of green), and you get a situation like the one which we wound up with.
On a more local level, disgusting initiatives have been placed before the voters, appealing to the fear within them so that the politicians’ hands might not get dirty. It is easier to divide us than to bring us all together. We have no universal commonality between us, other than our most basic shared humanity (and history has shown that not to be enough). It’s the Blacks who are ruining everything! No, wait! It’s the Mexicans! Now why are the those women getting so damned uppity? It’s the Muslims! It’s the Atheists! War On Christmas! Gay people are trying to destroy marriage! We are constantly set upon one another so that we’ll be too busy to see what’s really going on. And there will always be the perfect spot to poke between any of the many groups with which we identify to make us turn upon each other.
There is a deeper problem here, one which we’re only just beginning to acknowledge. It’s not just cops, though they need to get their shit together. I am not the type of guy who is easily convinced to move to a philosophy of violence, but I have generally had a pretty privileged life. Maybe it’s time that we all stand up and take this country back. We will never all agree on everything, and there will always be those who seek to emphasize our differences for their own ill-gotten gain. To paraphrase Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Blacks, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not Black.
Then they came for the Gays, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not Gay.
Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Muslim.
Then they came for me- and there was no one left to speak for me.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
An Open Letter to the Anarchists and Those Engaging In Violence For Violence’s Sake
(And Those Who Tacitly Enable Them)
Listen up, because I’m getting really tired of repeating myself: While there may be some people fooled by the destructive actions of the handful of you who always seem to attach yourselves to whichever valid protest may be occurring like a tapeworm which has infiltrated the open wounds of injustice, the rest of us are not, and we’ve had enough. You idiots are the reason why no one takes a protest seriously any more. I know, I know: many people out in the streets make fantastic cover for your petty larceny and desire to break something. But all you’re doing is giving those with no desire to effect a change the ammunition they desire to maintain the status quo. It takes courage to stare down a police force armored in full riot gear, armed with nothing but the knowledge that you are in the right, and that kind of strength should not be undermined by callow, undeserving, self-centered malcontents who only know how to direct their agitation toward a narrow slice of personal gain. It is not the fault of local businesses, so stop destroying them. And if you take the law into your own hands and seek out vigilante justice, then you are no better than the authorities being protested for having done the same while on their narrow and misinformed personal crusades.
There is a reason why the best among us have always advocated peaceful protest: give them no excuse to ridicule your ideology, and don’t sink down to meet them on their level. The moment a rock or punch is thrown, your argument becomes invalid in the eyes of those whom you are protesting. See? they say, This is what we have to deal with. Maybe we crossed a line, but we had to protect ourselves. That’s all it takes. I was a stone’s throw (metaphorically, of course) from the WTO debacle in Seattle in ’99. My girlfriend’s daughter went over to town to bask in all the chaos. I remember watching the news coverage, and sitting with my girlfriend while worrying if her teenage daughter would make it through the night. And what did that accomplish? Not a goddamned thing! The rest of the country got to chuckle at the disorganized flailings of an obviously childish philosophy. Was the police response justified? On the one hand, obviously not. They are ostensibly there “To Protect and Serve.” But when your city is under siege by those who are engaging in acts of casual destruction? What then?
The Occupy a News Cycle protests wound up failing in much the same way. Sure, it would have helped if there had been a unified message with a handful of bullet points instead of countless voices trying to scream over one another, demanding redress for their grievances, but eventually a conversation might have finally been forced to start, were it not for the elements of rash destruction which tended to hang about the fringes of the protests in all the major cities. Instead of inspiring an open discussion of inequality and the erosion of our basic human rights, the entire movement allowed itself to be marginalized by the lawlessness and stupidity by which they’d already been forcibly branded. What should have been handled with the caution and determination of a siege mentality was instead wasted on a futile assault against the gates. You cannot give them even the slightest excuse to mow you under. The first brick thrown, the first fire set, and the whole thing comes unraveled in the interests of “public safety.”
Now, that is not a defense of the policies (and the police officers who enforce them) of brutal violence blooming out of their own fears and racism. The incidents which sparked the riots in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Los Angeles were inexcusable, and need to have been properly addressed. Crime exists when its perpetrators feel that they’ve no other option for survival, and there will always be those who will exploit their helplessness, and prey upon their fears. No one should have to live in fear of the police, unless they are murderers on the run. And even then, I’m told, there is the framework in this country for the public, through its appointed and elected representatives, to try an individual in a court of law. No one should have to worry that an encounter with a cop will result in death. No one should have to worry about being arrested without cause. It’s not enough to say that if you don’t want to risk a run-in with the Law, then don’t break any, when we live in a world where almost anything can be construed as an act criminality.
We have the right to peacefully assemble (at least for now). We have the responsibility to make our voices heard. We must stand up for one another before there is no one left to stand at all. And when rise, and when our voices carry, we must keep our house in order. It’s the same principle as the what many Christians have been facing. No one likes the Westboro Baptist Church, or thinks what they are doing is a good or decent thing. No one likes those dudes with megaphones and giant signs screaming “God Hates Fags!” And yet we allow them to continue. We allow their hate to permeate the conversation to distract us from the things which we need to say. The First Amendment ensures that government cannot censor what we say, but that doesn’t mean we have to let the worst among us spout their hatred without consequence. Call them out on it. Make them stop. Even if you didn’t throw that brick, you saw that dude who was about to. We are trying to stand up for civility, equality, and justice. We cannot allow ourselves to be undermined by those who simply want to watch the world burn.
Every source I can find says that it’s only 64°F in Not Quite Richmond, CA, but I beg to differ. It feels like Satan’s asscrack outside, with the sun beating down in unrelenting waves of punishment for crimes against humanity that someone around here must have been planning for quite some time. I’m still a Seattle Boy at heart, and this tropical weather is something that I never will get used to. It’s funny that the main selling point of the Bay Area for me was the promise of Palm Trees, and yet I never quite got around to thinking about what type of climate that vegetation represented. It isn’t helping either that we’re in what I can only hope is the tail end of a years’ long drought. I’m just not prepared to go to war over potable water, but give me a few more days like this one, and I’ll unearth my swords and buy new tires for my bicycle, and ride around the Iron Triangle in search of something cool and refreshing that I can bring home to my wife and child. Now there’s an image: A balding man mounted upon a bicycle, wielding twin katana wildly with a look of desperation in his eyes. Surprisingly, I’m more or less okay with that.
I remember one summer when I was living on the Island, I think it was sometime around August, if the explosion of blackberry vines were any indication, and the temperature spiked into the 90’s. That in and of itself might not have been the end of the world, but the humidity seemed to add another pound of misery with every degree above the high 70’s, and there was no escaping it. We tried shutting ourselves in, with all the windows and doors closed, but wound up roasting. We then opened everything up to admit whatever breeze might come, but the only guest to heed our invitation was a second helping of excruciating warmth. We tried splashing water upon our skin to encourage evaporation, but it was sucked in quickly in an attempt to rehydrate our sorry selves. Finally, with no other option available to me, having long since passed the point where I could even consider the notion that other people might exist, I took a couple of machetes to the creek which marked the boundary of our property and began to do some landscaping. It was going swimmingly, down there in the dried-out creek, until someone decided they wanted to pick a fight with me over the property rights of said machetes.
At this point, I would like to offer up some friendly advice to anyone who may someday be in a similar position: If you see someone with a couple of bladed weapons, sweating, swearing, and taking his frustrations out in a horrifyingly useful fashion, please, for the love of all that is good and decent in the world, leave him the hell alone! There will be nothing so important to impart to him that is worth the imminent risk into which you are so valiantly thrusting your life. I’ll leave out some of the more amusing (from my perspective, with a healthy dose of retrospection) details, but I can reassure you that everyone wound up walking away from the incident with the same number of appendages with which they entered. I will say that it was about this time that I realized why there could never be peace in the Middle East, and why the South always seemed a brewing cesspool of intolerance, and why the riots erupted in Los Angeles. Hot weather, put simply, pisses people off. You know where you don’t find a lot of hatred, nor a culture of institutionalized violence? Seattle. Sure, there have been incidents, but overall, everyone is so better adjusted to the concept of not being a complete tool.
It doesn’t rain all the time there, but it is overcast for a majority of the time, and can get pretty chilly when it isn’t June, July, or August. People there seem to be better equipped to get along because they have a common enemy: Californians. No, I’m kidding (kind of). Their real enemy is the unrelenting shittiness of the weather on any given day. And on the Island, if there’s even a weak breeze, there’s a 60/40 chance the power will go out. So people band together and support one another and even the crazy hobos are generally kind. Or at least they used to be. I remember being genuinely shocked when I moved down here, that even after I’d said I had no change to spare, people would keep following me, shouting after and harassing me, like that would change my mind. Just weeks before, back in my hometown, I also couldn’t help someone out, but instead of cursing me and any future offspring, he wished me a good day, and good health. Now, as the temperature continues rising, I’m afraid that Seattle will wind up like San Francisco, and only be good for the people rich enough to avoid having to actually experience it.
And in Mexico, my next stop on the slowest world tour of all time, it just hit 110°F in a place where actual people live! I mean, I’m not planning to go out roaming the countryside, but I’ve been told that it’s kind of rainy where I’m going, and I’d like a chance to get to see that before the whole damn place erupts into either a bloody jungle, or falls away to dustbowl. I know that I’ve made jokes about finding myself a nice cave somewhere in a mountain range (I’ve always been particular to the Olympics), I was mostly joking! I don’t want to have to live in some grubby little cave just to beat the heat! I mean, maybe someday I’ll be ready to dive right into hermitage, but that probably won’t be for at least another decade or so.
I look out into the world as single tear rolls halfway down my cheek (before evaporating in the direct sunlight), thinking about what kind of place that’s been left for my son to have to face. And then I think about my grandson. And my unborn granddaughter. I’ll probably be dead before the final bowel blast, but them? What do they have to look forward to?
I’m going to say the same thing that I said seven years ago: I refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. Even if Senator Barack Obama hadn’t been the most electrifying man in political entertainment, I would still have chosen him over Mrs. Clinton because I just cannot bring myself to help put us on that path. I’m not talking about how she embodies the sell-out, bought and paid for representation of the multinational corporations and special interests, or the fact that she’s a woman; almost everybody else in national politics is just as bad, and I couldn’t care less about the ramifications of her reproductive system. The fact is that since 1989, two families have held the highest office. Right now, that’s twenty of twenty-six years. Should Hillary be elected president, that will mean that those same families will have been running the executive office for (at least) twenty-four of thirty years, or 80% of the past three decades. To be fair, through 2008, the Bushes and Clintons had controlled the office 100% of the time, but a run of possibly twenty-eight years between two budding dynasties was just too much for me to stomach. Just so no one accuses me of playing favorites, I’m also proud to declare that I won’t be voting for Jeb Bush either.
It’s bad enough that we’ve been reduced to a two-party system, I cannot accept that we’re freefalling toward a two-family system. And from there, all it takes is some social mingling, and we’ve got the beginnings of an empire. Sure, it seems unlikely that people today would accept the totalitarian rule of a single family whose power passes down through heredity, dispensing with the antiquated notion of democratic participation, a system which is widely regarded with disdain and apathy. I mean, we’ve got a couple of brothers who seem intent on using their vast wealth to control the country, but they’re so well shrouded in the shadows which only unlimited wealth and power can buy, that people do their best to simply ignore what little evidence has come to light. But we prefer to think that our officials are elected, and a straight-up power grab reminiscent of the republic which we’ve tried to emulate is still a little far off from being socially acceptable. But I can see how it might be done.
First, you limit public options down to two. Then, you field candidates from two families, alternating them every couple of election cycles. Each of these presidents will be popular with their voter base, at least until the end. From there it’s only a matter of time until those two families begin consolidating power. In the outside world, the War on Terror seems to drag on without end. We continue to give up liberties in our attempt to hold those who might seek to do us harm at bay. Politics have become more of a distraction than ever before, with scandal after scandal shoving actual news deep into the disappearing newspapers, and mentioned almost never in the twenty-four news channels’ broadcasts. Meanwhile, we’re running out of resources, and because of the myth of the job creator, those in economic power continue to run roughshod over both environment and ex-employees. We’re soon out of water, the weather patterns having made the United States a nation of climatological extremes, and the party of deniers has finally accepted that there is some sort of problem, but there is nothing to be done, as we are past the point of no return. On the bright side, Florida finally sinks into the sea, and we are no longer bound to its insanity. The union of two families finally comes to pass, and the product of that union ascends to sit upon his golden throne, ruling over the American Empire as it falls from major player status to a dimming third-world power.
Okay, I’m willing to admit that I may be overreacting. It could just be that I have spent my entire life watching the country which I love embark upon a quest to make itself irrelevant. If I was the type who believed that the End of Days was not only inevitable, but just around the corner, I probably wouldn’t be as worried as I am. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? The apocalypse comes a little early. I cannot bear the dumbing-down of everything, nor the flailing of religious fantasy as it seeks to drive us back toward the last time it was relevant. I hear constant cries for a return to a more theocratic rule, never mind that the last time it was thrust upon us, it took the courage of band of heretics to drag us out of those dark ages and push us toward the light. In a time when we could feed the world, drive up the standard of living and the quality of life, we fall back upon the superstitions of millennia long gone, and incite the world to war.
It’s time to put a stop to this. It’s time to look toward hard-earned knowledge to guide us into wisdom instead of flipping through antiquities to find something to justify our prejudices. Or maybe we should go the other way, and embrace something more ridiculous. Let’s put an actual cartoon up for an election. I hereby announce the candidacy of Ranger Bob for President in the 2016 election. He ran in 2000, but we wound up with a different deranged type of cowboy instead. I think that the time has finally come for us to formally usher in the Age of Insanity. Let’s cast aside enlightenment for edicts from the past. Let’s toss out reason in favor of fervent faith. Corporations will always do the right thing because otherwise they’d soon be out of business. The rich create the jobs, and not the workers who spend their hard-earned cash. The poor are just lazy, and hard work will always result in unbridled success. We’re not responsible for climate change. Voter fraud! And corporations are people, despite the fact that Texas hasn’t ever executed one.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.