Sometimes, I feel like an alien in a human suit, sent to both observe and participate in the human experience. I am fascinated by the human experience, which I think is connected to my love for reading and writing. Reading allows me to experience the variety of human existence. This opportunity to live intimately with a character--to be allowed into his or her psyche, expands my understanding of human nature--our motivations, our fears, and our emotions. Writing allows me to be a sort of ethnographer of the human experience.
I’ve never been much of an extrovert; I silently soak in my environment and the people within that environment. I feel everything very deeply because I tune into my surroundings. I decided a while back to remain detached from social injustice and politics, not because I don’t care, but because my empathy and attachment drain me and I prefer to protect my mental and emotional health. Another factor affecting my reaction to and participation in the drama that is American politics is my belief that this is all a big fraud. I think we, the citizenry, are being strategically moved like pawns, the media sways our emotions, we never have the whole truth, and we will one day need to have the balls to overturn the systems that shape our society and start anew. Everything needs to be recreated, from the justice system to the education system. Although I try not to be emotionally invested, I still participate in protest, as I believe that every form of rebellion is valid and will help us move towards a truly egalitarian society.
So, here I am, reflecting on the 2016 election, after things have calmed down. For the most part, I’ve refrained from divulging my opinions of the candidates, the state of race relations in America, or whether the electoral college is a democratic institution. Instead, I want to talk about what this election has reminded me about human nature, specifically, the humans living in America.
This election has reminded me that people are afraid.
People are afraid that their sense of stability will be taken away from them. People are afraid of having no control over their future. People are afraid of losing their lives. They are afraid that if their sons go out to play, they may never come home again. Or if their daughters are caught alone and must defend themselves, they will meet their end. People want to know that tomorrow, everything will be okay.
People have journeyed from miles to make it here, the so-called land of milk and honey. They’ve escaped poverty, hunger, war, prostitution, a life of ignominy to come here. Some realize that their vision of this country is a pipe dream, and now they are lost at sea, constantly facing the threat of deportation. People are on the run, hoping to feel safe for once in their lives. Some people just want peace, and they fear that if they don’t find it they may take their own lives. Fear motivates political choices: fear motivates our dependency on government in the first place. Fear creates the conflict and hate-laden political climate we live in now. We fear each other because we can’t trust each other: we don’t believe our personal interests can work synergistically towards a greater good. What’s worse, our fear of each other creates all of the -isms that are destroying our society: sexism, racism, ageism, etc.
I fear that our desperation and fear will cause us to destroy one another.
We are an afraid people. We run and we run and we run from our fears, we fight them and fight them and they grow bigger, creating chaos. We don’t know that our fear is just us wanting to always to be loved, to always be secure.
Adults still have the same look of fright in their eyes that they had as young children when they lose sight of their mothers, or as babies when their mothers took a moment too long to hear their cries. People are afraid of people who are different from them because people who are different from them threaten their preconceived notions, force them to rethink the way they understand life, and god forbid, change their ways. Change is frightening: change represents the unknown and change means becoming someone who you’ve never been before.
This election, in my opinion, exposed just how fearful people are. I wonder what would happen if people faced their fears, and accepted them.A fearless person is a person who cannot be controlled. A fearless person accepts the unknown. Until people realize this, we will continue to be in constant conflict with one another. The political drama will continue, and the change people are looking for will not come.
I continue to watch the political drama unfold, and hope that one day people will begin to look within instead of without to resolve their fears.