We are sick, each and every one of us.
There is a destructive, debilitating disease that has spread its bacterium, infecting our souls and poisoning our minds. Not just in the United States, mind you, but the whole of humanity. It’s been around forever, evolving, becoming more and more resilient to the medicines we’ve used to fight it. But it seems to be stronger now than possibly ever before.
The worst part about this sickness, is that it comes in different forms and even disguises itself as something other than what it really is. It spreads itself to ever aspect of society and culture, adopting their faces, and doing the most damage in their name; things like religion, politics, national security, and even patriotism.
Then it lies. It lies to everyone.
It tells its host that disagreement cannot be resolved through discussion. That there can be no compromise. It tells them that they are right and everyone else is wrong. It tells them that they are better than someone else because that other person looks different, sounds different, speaks a different language, grew up in a different neighborhood/state/country, makes less (or more) money, or has differing opinions. Then it uses those differences to spread other diseases: anger, hatred, fear, and envy.
Next it divides us. But it doesn’t just separate us. It puts us against one another: Science vs. Religion; Black vs. White; Immigrant vs. Citizen (aka – descendent of immigrants, excluding indigenous peoples); Rich vs. Poor; Male vs. Female; Liberal vs. Conservative; Coke vs. Pepsi; Tom Brady fans vs. Everyone else; etc. You can pick literally anything and there is an opposition to it. Just look at how many times riots nearly broke out over Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.
Xenophobia or even just plain ignorance are the simplest ways of explaining this disease. People are simply afraid of things that are different. They’re afraid of change. A perfect example is probably white people in Virginia shouting “You will not replace us.” There are even entire groups of people who want the United States split into different countries that are separated by race, religion, and skin color.
What in the actual fuck?!
These are the same people who claim to stand by and defend the constitution at all costs. But they do so ignoring some of the key points of the Constitution. All men are created equally. All men deserve have the God given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Oh man, this is where the most infuriating part of this disease rears its ugly head: hypocrisy. Don’t get too pissed off at me for calling you out and start sending me hate mail like you did after my last OpEd. We’re all hypocrites, myself included. I can look my son dead in the eye and demand he spend less time looking at screens and then turn around and spend two hours on my phone.
Jokes aside, there are very real issues affecting the United States right now that are tearing us apart. Our justice system is being spat on by the very people who run it. The checks and balances that are meant to protect the people of the United States are beginning to falter, or perhaps they always have been. But don’t worry world, there is a simple solution: don’t be an asshole.
Don’t make knee-jerk decisions and presumptions on anything unless you have facts. And don’t twist facts to suit your opinion because that’s just not the way things work. Your opinion is supposed to change based on the facts.
Don’t place people in groups and stereotype the lot of them. That seems to be happening a lot these days. All immigrants are rapists and murderers (except for the white ones, right Donald?); all rich people are greedy, snobs; all poor people are uneducated; all Republicans are Fascists; all Democrats are Marxists; all Tom Brady fans are jerks*.
Just stop with the stereotypes.
The point is, the differences that we allow to divide us don’t really matter. There are things that really do matter that affect us all. If we stop seeing the world through the filter of our own opinions, and start to see it based on the facts right in front of us, then we can finally begin to make some positive change. Maybe, just maybe —and I say this at the risk of sounding like a hippie— maybe then, we can actually begin to make the world a better place.
*Queue hate mail and twitter comments now.
Joseph Paul Wright is a freelancer journalist based in Nogales, Arizona. He tweets from @joewrightwrites.