I am tired tonight. More tired than I’ve been in a long time and it’s for all the wrong reasons.
You see, a while ago I promised myself that I’d stay out of the hypocritical and often hateful thickets of a society that seems to be growing more perverse every day. Any appreciation for the realness or the great potential of humanity seems to be dwindling at a rapid rate. Everything has become fattened with political, religious and psuedoreligious dogma, under which lies poorly hidden veins carrying the bile of greed, animosity, and prejudices.
It’s crazy making, really, at least for someone like me, who’s slightly left of moderate. I don’t understand how, for instance, the gentle figure of Jesus has been co-opted by a segment of society that’s strangely hoo-rah for mega-millionaires, the personhood of corporations, and the deconstruction of women’s rights — all under the New Testament-defying guise of vaguely defined values like “freedom” or “liberty”. What? Really? Jesus thought the poor should be made to jump through Herculean bureaucratic hoops to get some grain of help? He told the poor to quit complaining and just get (more) jobs? He used his considerable power to humiliate and condemn gays, oppress women, and tell the sick that they’re on their own? I’m not Christian, but I have read the book and, as I recall, Jesus didn’t do any of that and even his most conservative apostles seemed to issue more warnings to greedy rich men, backbiters, and heterosexuals than they did to the poor, the ill, and the disenfranchised.
Tell me again how “freedom” and “liberty” come by way of denying others theirs, because that seems to be the entire platform of the present-day GOP. Prevent women from making their own reproductive choices, make sure gay couples don’t have equal rights, cut services to the elderly, the poor and the sick . . . but make sure you lower the corporate tax rate (do read the link) . . . and eliminate the estate tax so that the children of the rich don’t suffer so much as the loss of a penny (did you can now inherit up to $5M without paying federal taxes? Yeah, that’s a problem most of us won’t have).
On the other side, over 84 million people, largely of the progressive persuasion, jumped on the Kony 2012 bandwagon and made it one of the biggest viral campaigns ever because hey, if celebrities are endorsing it, it just has to be a good cause, right? Never mind the actual facts of the matter or what Ugandans themselves may feel — here, a video by the prime minister of Uganda detailing the fallacies promoted by Invisible Children has pulled in only 27K views — the important thing seemed to be that it was Hollywood, man. It was glossy and evocative, and so what if Kony doesn’t live in Uganda and his LRA army has shriveled to a couple hundred ragtag troops? The defenders will argue that “at least it got people talking”, but about what exactly? Does the truth even matter anymore?
There’s all of that, but then there’s Trayvon Martin. Killed by a self-appointed vigilante, not arrested, still free. There’s the cry that this incident ”couldn’t possibly” be racially motivated because Zimmerman is purportedly part Hispanic — as if no one who is not purely caucasian can be racist. The cops, it should be noted, also listed Zimmerman as “white” on their forms — that’s how they perceived him — and hell yes, it matters.
It matters that this wanna-be cop with a 9mm gun, who had previously made almost 50 calls to 911, pursued a 17 year old Black teenager against police instructions merely for looking “suspicious”.
It matters that Zimmerman first stalked the teenager from his car. Then the frightened boy began to run and Zimmerman went after him on foot, telling police breathlessly that “these assholes always get away.” There may have been a fight, the 240 pound vigilante against the 140 pound teenager, but in the end the teenager was dead and Zimmerman was left standing over the body, gun in hand.
The police didn’t run a background check on Zimmerman, have his wounds examined, or ask him to submit to a drug or alcohol test. They did run a toxicology test on Martin’s dead body, though, which is clearly a preemptive run toward a “blame the victim” defense. However, even if Martin had been high as a kite, he wasn’t the one chasing Zimmerman — he was the one being chased.
I join my name to the millions that are shocked and saddened by the actions of the Sanford Police Department. At no time was Zimmerman’s life or property in danger — he stalked this child, pursued him and then killed him — yet when he claimed self-defense, the police took him at his word, knowing full well who was chasing whom. If anyone had the right to self-defense, it was Trayvon Martin, who can be heard pleading for his life before being shot in cold blood. His family says it’s his voice. There’s no reason to believe otherwise. The screams end as soon as the gun goes off.
I don’t believe that anyone who is on top in a fight is going to be screaming like that. So was the child on the ground and did Zimmerman all ready have him subdued before shooting Martin? This is a question a jury should mull, yet whether or not there will ever be a jury is still in question.
And that’s part of what is making me so tired tonight. That sometimes assholes do get away, even with murder.
The other part, the larger part, is knowing that Trayvon Martin, like so many others before him (James Byrd, Matthew Shepard, Troy Davis, Tyler Clementi and Brandon Teena to name a few) — is destined to become a figurehead for a problem that’s not going away anytime soon, no matter how many people sign a petition, dress in hooded sweatshirts, or march in his name.
Hate is hate and it seems that we’re getting further and further away from communally pulling up the roots of it than ever in my lifetime. The idealistic promises of the 60s — brotherhood, equality, justice for all — seem to have become fodder for cynics and the religious right. Far too many others have buried their heads in the sands of a feel-good, modern-day guruism which preaches that the self is everything and everything is the self, and nothing in the world really matters because somehow everything that happens, no matter how senseless or tragic, was meant to be. There are no accidents, the gurus and their adherents preach. All is as it should be.
It’s the lies that break my heart, tear at my mind, and make me tired in a way that even the worst truth never could.
“The profoundest instinct in man is to war against the truth; that is, against the Real. He shuns facts from his infancy. His life is a perpetual evasion. Miracle, chimera and to-morrow keep him alive. He lives on fiction and myth. It is the Lie that makes him free. Animals alone are given the privilege of lifting the veil of Isis; men dare not. The animal, awake, has no fictional escape from the Real because he has no imagination. Man, awake, is compelled to seek a perpetual escape into Hope, Belief, Fable, Art, God, Socialism, Immortality, Alcohol, Love. From Medusa-Truth he makes an appeal to Maya-Lie.” — Jack London, The Mutiny of the Elsinore