The Girl With No Apathy

apathy stencil print on the grunge white brick wall

Wouldn’t it be so much easier, if I simply didn’t give a shit about racism, politics and shared recipes instead?

“It figures that the United States waited until I immigrated here, to go totally politically ape shit.”

It was a comment that got a few hundred ‘likes’ on The Washington Post, one of my favorite sources for online news about the turn in American politics that is turning my stomach (daily).  It was an understatement of how I feel.  Something trite, attempting to be funny, because I’d rather laugh than cry.  Then again, I’d rather laugh than have that upsetting burning in the pit of my stomach daily when I read the news.

Here I stand, some multicultural, non-racist, non-xenophobic Canadian newlywed, trying to figure out things here in the Bible Belt.  I mention that Texas is in the Bible Belt because if you think things feel polarized on the East or West coasts … you should try the Southern United States.    I am not the only tree hugging, snowflake in Texas, but it sure feels that way sometimes.    How happy was my heart when they protested in opposition to the travel ban at Dallas Fort Worth Airport?   It gave me a gift; for the first time since this election began, I felt like there were people here in this state, who felt like I did.   That gave me a brief moment of hope.

I don’t agree with anything that comes out of his mouth.  The behaviors I have seen by the new administration in the first two weeks, offend pretty much every value I hold true.  I’m not racist (I love good people, period).  I don’t think any religion is “right” or more correct than any other religion (until God shows up and tells us otherwise, I’m pretty sure they all share roots and that there is goodness and value in all of them).   I don’t like guns.  American’s blindly pretend there is no problem with gun control, but they shoot each other at such a rate… that I can’t understand how they don’t see it’s a problem.   Developing countries have fewer gun deaths than the United States… and now the administration is proposing that they remove any kind of mental health check, when licensing for guns.

Because … that makes sense.

There is a different push back that I am noticing socially, which makes me feel even more sad and isolated, here as a new resident in Texas.  There is an expectation of apathy.  Would I fit in better in New York?  Yep.  Probably California too, and Colorado.   There is zero “red neck” in me.  I don’t like “killing things”.   I don’t like racism.  I’m cool with anyone who is a nice person, basically, and judge people based on independent merit.    I have to drive to Dallas for curry, or thai food, and I don’t think they’ve even heard of Korean BBQ in North Texas.  I think chicken fried steak with white gravy is disgusting.   I frequently border on “taco overload”, but enjoy real tortilla chips and good salsa.

There is something wrong with me because I care …

Enough to be upset when I see Muslims, immigrants and refugees so blatantly attacked and blamed for everything.   Including a global economy that, if you think about it, is really scaring the shit out of most people.  It threatens the affluence here in North America.  People have to work HARDER to maintain it.  They aren’t sure about their retirement, their healthcare, and a bunch of other really important things in the United States, but it’s definitely about the immigrants.

Post war in Canada, they blamed the Italians for stealing their jobs.  This, despite the fact that Canadians had very few brick masons, and were not really willing to do that heavy work (nor were they trained for it) for the pittance pay that my Grandfather got, for working 14 hour days, until his hands bled.   For years, to afford to bring his wife and children safely over on a big ship, with little else but the belongings in a sea chest… and hope for a safe, better life.

So you could say it’s more than personal for me, when you vilify immigrants.  I am a second generation Italian/Canadian.  I am also a new immigrant to the United States.

There is something wrong with me because I care …

I should just be able to read something like, how people think it’s their right to tell a woman what she can, and cannot do with her body.  That things like rights for same sex couples are ‘offensive’, when I think it’s offensive that you are concerned with the sexual lives of people who are free to live the way they choose (or in the way that God made them).   Let’s hate them because they are different.    Because they fall outside the lines of the emphatic, Christian, hate filled, arrogant, “so completely sure that they are the chosen” definition.  After this election, and browsing online, debating, trying to educate people… I have a lower opinion of the label “Christian” than I ever have.

Please don’t call me an American Christian.  I consider the term to be offensive, and assumptive of hate, racism, misinformation, and delusion, rather than an indicate of humanity, kindness, compassion and morality.   Pope Francis agreed.  Consider your behavior before you consider whether you STILL have the right to call yourself a Christian, if you have demonstrated baited hatred for immigrants, refugees, blacks, Muslims, or whatever the “target de jour” is this week, according to political leadership.   I can’t speak for God, but wish God would speak to us… and set a shit load of Christian racist fundamentalists straight.

There is something wrong with me because I care …

Because when the political leader of the world’s strongest country can’t keep his lies straight.  When he seeks to silence the press, because they are holding him to truths and calling him (essentially) on lies.  Am I aware of spin doctored media? Come on… I work in media.   But from lying straight to the press about a massacre in Bowling Green that never happened?  Voter fraud claims that will mysteriously not be investigated now (because they know Hillary won fair and square, and the results would further discredit the opposition).  I’m supposed to look the other way and shut my mouth, when the administration MAKES IT LEGAL to dump coal and mining refuse into the water we drink?      To torture people again?   To remove the arts, make it ILLEGAL for the public to have information about animal testing, and animal abuse by corporations?

Every moral I hold is being challenged by this current political climate.   And if your morals aren’t offended, I just don’t know if I want you in my world, to be honest.  If you are cheering, in spite of all this shit… we don’t have anything in common.  No matter how much I like you, I’m painting you a selfish, materialist, uninformed, greedy, racist piece of shit.   The best I can manage if we are related, is to agree not to talk politics.  I’m not capable of lying about how I feel, on such incredibly important things.    The most I can do is walk away from conversations that are political, if I love you, before I share how I really feel, and damage our friendship or relationship.

There is something wrong with you because you don’t care.  Because you are willing to coast through the next four years with a level of apathy that trusts the “next guy” will fix these problems, or any mess.  That perhaps change “will be good” even if it feels racist, anti-environmental, toxic … it will all sort itself out.”  [insert blank stare]

 

If you think I was homesick before (not that anyone really cares, I’m not important), I look at apartments weekly in Windsor, Canada.  What holds me here is my husband and step-children.   And we talk about moving to New York State, but my husband is a die-hard Texan.  We have kids to consider, who need us; moving isn’t an option right now.   So I guess I am expected to develop apathy when someone talks about loosening gun control (terrifying), removing women’s health programs (terrifying), abolishing the evolution of Universal and accessible health care, without a replacement (terrifying), or when someone tells me that all Muslims want to blow up Americans (but have never met, or talked to a Muslim in their entire life).

My grandpa told me once that no one really took Mussolini seriously, when he talked violently.  They were inspired by his “strength” and the brutish force he exhibited.  They thought it would signify to the world that their country was stronger.  Invincible.  Ready to be “tough” and put Italy first!   How will history judge those people who didn’t stop a political leader who used some of the same tactics we are seeing today?

It’s not about not having respect for the office.  God, I loved Obama; he was a class act and someone you could be proud of.  But this?   I’ll be honest with you, my paperwork is processing and I have this small fear that if I go home now, in the middle of this political storm, I might not have the courage to come back.    Back among sensible leadership, and multiculturalism, polite society and not having to see guns everywhere… why would I want to come back to this shit storm?

Marriage.  Right. I’ll have to ask my husband how attached he is to me.  He may be amenable to trading me in for something different.  Something with a southern accent and the ability to bake and deep fry everything.  Someone with the ability to care about nothing else, than hair highlights, nail polish colors, and the Kardashians.    I wish I could say that life would appeal to me; it’s simple to be sure, but I’m not capable of it.

I can survive here, but I’m feeling that in order to do so, I should stop thinking entirely about anything outside the walls of my home. Your problems?  Don’t care.  The economy?  Don’t care.  Racism?  Don’t care.  I mean, most American’s think Canadians are “cute” and “really polite”, it’s not like Canadians are on the “hit list” like people from the Middle East are. Or Mexicans.  *shrug*  Not my problem, right?  Except that the one single woman I see wearing a hijab in Walmart… here, in our ‘hood’, needs me to be the one person who looks her in the eye, and smiles at her.  With all my heart, and not a single word, I smile at her every time I see her, and she smiles back gently, because she knows she is safe with me.  That I “see her”.

Apathy isn’t cool.  It’s an easier path to walk (do you seriously think I have nothing better to do with my time than be upset?)  A more politically correct way to avoid “talking politics” or “offending people” while pretending that what they are doing, or saying, or how they are leading, or lying to the press and public, does not offend on every moral level possible.   Passionate people who give a shit, cannot master apathy because it’s not in us to be that way.  And so every day I say a few things on Facebook that I hope inspires change in the angry hearts I see being hateful there.  Or perhaps, an immigrant, Muslim or Mexican person will see that kind statement from me, and remember … that there are good people still left in the world, willing to stand up for them.  For what is right.  For kindness and compassion.

Enjoy your apathy.  My conscience won’t allow me to say nothing.  The world’s greatest crimes against humanity happen, when people stop caring, and grow silent, and master the art of looking the other way, and sharing crock pot recipes instead on Facebook.    Because that’s enlightenment.   Because that is how smart people change the world, while other people sit on a couch, eating potato chips and wondering why the planet is going to hell.

And if the current administration wants to be “respected” perhaps it should start by telling “the truth”.  Even sometimes… even 1-2 times a week, would be an encouraging start.  And if I have offended you because “I care” please be assured, you’ve offended (and baffled me) because you don’t.