Today’s been somewhat of an idyllic Sunday. I got a luxurious lie in while my girlfriend had to get up for work. There she was putting on clothes like a chump while my limbs adventured to all four corners of the bed. She had her head full of pending customer interactions while I swam in the bliss of a day full of potential. I didn’t need to do anything, it was up to me. I knew that at some point I’d get out of bed, but beyond that I was following primal urges.
My first urge thrust me out the door in search of coffee. It was beautifully sunny. One of those not scorching or remotely chilly days. A man was biking down the road with a cart on the front of him. A little girl perched excitedly in their. I smiled. “Good morning” he bellowed. “Good morning” his kid followed. It was cute and borderline idyllic. I carried the smile all the way to my usual coffee spot and my usual baristas smiled back. Great coffee as per usual. As I walked out the door, I saw the same father and child from earlier going past. “Good morning again” called the girl. I did some shopping on the way home, picking up a heap of pork chops on sale.
The rest of my pressure-free day followed swimmingly. I finished a presentation for the office. I went to the park and hung my rings on a swings set. I practiced a bunch of muscle ups, pull ups, horizontal holds and ate shit trying to see how well I could iron cross. The answer was not in the least. I came back home and fixed lunch, washed bedsheets and watched some high level pro tour Magic the Gathering. A friend messaged and asked if I wanted to walk to a park or something. I did. We did. We explored a nice forest path around her house, then stopped in at an ice cream parlour that specialised in cookie sandwiches and home made ice cream. In short, my day was top to bottom ideal.
In Charlottesville, things haven’t been so ideal. I watched yesterday as the news rolled in. A white supremacist rally. Young men claiming oppression, chanting “blood and soil”. Carrying fucking tiki torches (if that isn’t cultural appropriation…) in some approximation of a Klan rally. Nazi flags being openly carried in the streets. Semi-automatic weapons being openly carried in the streets. Naked aggression, physical violence. A 20 year old mindless Nazi sympathiser driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19. These people who’ve don’t know what it is to be denigrated and spat on for the colour of their skin, to be seen as a lesser form of humanity, to have suffered discrimination and prejudice by the legal system meant to safeguard them, to die at the hands of those meant to protect and serve them. Calling them “people” is strong language. They’re callous scum who are so concerned with their own agenda that the thought of consideration and equality for others to them actively means oppression.
It worries me that I can’t truly say I’m surprised. No, I didn’t expect these kind of atrocities, this mindless hateful rhetoric to resurface. I’m not, however, surprised that it has. We’re seeing a paradigm that hadn’t disappeared, but had merely sunk beneath the surface. The fact that a demagogue sits in the White House and can’t bring himself to condemn this terrorism in his own country out of fear of alienating his own voter base is an atrocity I’m sure the world will feel for years to come. I know we live in an increasingly interconnected world, but we’re seeing instances of hate speech and othering rhetoric rise day by day. It’s a tragedy that in a world where we could do so much to elevate society, restore the natural world, tend to the needs of the less fortunate, we’re losing time, energy and resources to the words and actions of bigots. Remember the strong police presence at Black Lives Matter rallies? Remember peaceful protesters being shot while the police absolved themselves of blame? “He had a gun” or some other lie used to mask blatant injustice? Well where is the strong police presence now? Now that armed protesters set up camp and are actively harming others? Open carry isn’t enough to provoke violent reprisal when the hands carrying the guns are white, apparently.
It frightens me that I can be complacent while others suffer. That I can go on totally disconnected and unaffected while people fear for their life because of their heritage. As a non-practicing Jew, the world hasn’t forgotten a time where my head would’ve been on the chopping block, irrespective of the person I grew to be. I want to say never again. I want to have the conviction that we as a species have evolved beyond reducing complex and nuanced individuals to skin colour. I want to tell myself that this was an anomaly, that open condemnation on the world stage is enough to shock these idiots that’ve bought into an archaic, harmful mindset into realising the error of their ways.
Please, please let me get what I want. How are any of us meant to enjoy idyllic days if we know that others are dying for their right to exist?