Wrestling All Night with an Angel

In digging through old notes, I came across this piece of writing I was putting together right after the 2016 Presidential election. My emotions were raw, and I was trying desperately to make sense of things in my head.

It seemed like there might be some value in sharing to a wider audience than my private notebook.

I don't believe that other people are my enemies. I get very uncomfortable with that notion. I ardently believe that we are so intertwined and interdependent that I sometimes can't tell where I end and you begin. This is why it's so draining for me to be in close proximity to others—especially when they're experiencing strong emotions. That supposed barrier between me and you is something I don't always have. This is great when it comes to spirituality, religion, philosophy, and service to others, but when lots of people are feeling strong emotions—whether positive or negative—it just short circuits my brain.

As you might imagine with that knowledge, the last few days have been extremely difficult for me. I've had to step away from Facebook, Google+, and Twitter because the emotional cacophony is just not something I'm particularly great at handling. Conflict also really fries my thinking parts because my cranked up (and arguably malfunctioning) empathy makes me feel for both sides in any fight.

I want to congratulate Trump supporters. It feels like a relief when you feel like someone is finally listening to you. Thank you for throwing a metaphorical brick through the window. I've tried really hard to make as many of my friends and family listen to the realities of your struggles, but I know quite well that I got a lot of polite but disagreeable nods. Your concerns are real, and in many cases, they are life-threatening.

When you live in rural areas, it often feels like politicians either don't give a damn about you or they only gave a damn about you in some abstract sense where you're an inconvenient number on a piece of paper. I know from personal experience that you're a self-sufficient lot because you've had to be. Farms got consolidated into big agribusiness firms that didn't put nearly enough money in your pocket. Mines and industrial businesses went out of business or left your towns, and not a damned thing sprung up in their place. Yeah, things got better for people like me who live in bigger towns and cities and work in tech for a living, but you were left wondering when the fuck things were supposed to get better for you and your family. It's about damned time that someone listened to you and took your shit seriously.

I also want to console my friends and family who are of a more progressive/leftist persuasion like me. It's scary as hell right now. I'm doing my best to show up, do my job, and be positive even though the incoming administration has expressed a desire to do away with marriages like mine. The Vice President-Elect has supported policies that marginalize and pathologize people who aren't straight and cisgender, and whether or not it was intended by the incoming President, actual "white nationalist", "alt right" racists are crawling out from under rocks and are mobilizing out in the daylight. Back in December, the newly elected President expressed an unconstitutional and un-American desire to single out my Muslim friends simply for their beliefs. As a human being, that infuriates me, and as a fellow religious minority, it absolutely terrifies me.

Everyone, we are not each other's enemies, and anyone who is attempting to divide us from working together to improve everyone's lives and protect all of our personal liberties is choosing an evil path. My neglected rural Southern friends, you have so much in common with black folks in this country that it's sometimes staggering to me. Latinos and queer folks, you are being marginalized in the same way. Make them listen to all of you, and cherish the fact that every person is a mish-mash of overlapping and very complex experiences. Supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, break out those pitchforks and stand up to the people with power who are actually oppressing you and not each other.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm choosing to be a light in the darkness. If we're going to heal from this place we're in, we're going to need healers, and I'm making the decision to be one. I choose to see each person's struggles as my struggles, and I'm not going to let artificial barriers stop my light from shining.

I am going to keep amplifying the quietest voices in the room. I'm going to swagger into rooms and tell people with power inconvient things they would rather not hear. I'm ready to stand up to anyone who tries to harm people who are extended less privilege in our society. Racists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, wealthy elites, politicians, and generally bigoted assholes…you are on my list. Come at me, bro. I hate conflict, but I will defend my sisters, brothers, and non-binary siblings like an angry mama bear.

You're damned right I'm a Social Justice Warrior. Emphasis on the Warrior. Now just try me, motherfucker.

Let's get to work.