If I were to lie to you I’d tell you that I was a quiet person. I’d say that nothing in politics bothered me and that I didn’t ever vote because they’re all charlatans, it just doesn’t matter because it’s all a game. I would say that I was highly disciplined and singular minded. I’m a peaceful individual and I’d say poetry is a waste of time, that disclosing intimate parts of a person accomplishes nothing, and that intellectual pursuits leads to massive frustration with no real guide to effective action.
I could go on but I’ve already promised to reveal myself here through these pieces, these essays are to reflect my personal story in the many facets of my being. That, plus the fact that I rarely have any effective censor between mind and mouth so I’ve learned that lying is way too much work.
Telling the truth means I never have to remember what I’ve said.
It does seem somewhat like self aggrandizement, or worse, self flagellation at times, to continue in this vein but I’ve committed to it and while I doubt that there’s enough material to last all year I do know that I have plenty to talk about in terms of what affects me and mine. Over the last four decades I have tried my best to follow Einstein’s admonishment to ‘widen my circle of compassion’. Admittedly I still have an ego-centric, pleasure seeking core. But I’ve done the hard work to live up to my mother’s praise to me shortly before she died, “Chuck, you are a good man.”
A good man.
Yesterday I had a nice long phone conversation with the college kid. Aside from my giving him some advice about his self confidence and listening to him talk about the beautiful coeds he’d like to talk to he told me that he thought I was ‘level headed’ and that he was exceedingly lucky to have my wife and me as his parents.
I’d have thought if I were to ever use that as a self descriptor I’d be lying my ass off. But given that my son is a scholar (he’s a Marquis Scholar at Lafayette College in Easton, PA) I guess I have to accept it. Even though I don’t feel level headed at the moment. I feel just as angry as I did when Richard Nixon was elected president back in 1968. In fact I feel just as angry as I did that whole damn year…maybe even a bit more.
And worse, along with my anger is my dismay. This has been a long fucking slog through racist and supremacist shit for me in my life time. Basically, forgive my harping on this theme, since the weeks in late summer and early fall in 1955 when it seemed every damn elder in my family made sure I saw the pictures of Emmett Till’s battered and disfigured body I have been dealing with white folks bullshit.
No. Fuck no. I am NOT level headed when it comes to that…
More so, after sixty-fucking years of being a person who truly fights for the rights and freedoms this country supposedly provides (members of American armed forces fight for America’s national interests, NOT for our rights and freedoms. Seriously, take that nationalistic bullshit and shove it somewhere!) I am appalled that the country I would bequeath to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchild still reeks of the negative crap that permeates the air in 2017.
I’d be lying to you if I said otherwise…I’m about to channel my inner Shaka-Fucking-Zulu up in here!
I’m a peaceful warrior at heart. My college kid once marveled that I treat everyone nice. He noted that I spoke with the same respect to ‘big shots’ and janitors, that I called every man sir and every woman ma’am. What he didn’t know was that I give every person a fair shot to prove themselves decent human beings or assholes..Yeah, I’m just that binary when it comes to people.
But experience has proven that each person is capable of the highest aspirations in their actions as well as the banal evil we see every day…which is one reason I do, at least outwardly, treat every person with respect. My issue now is that there are so many people…scores of millions of my countrymen and women, who voted for an openly unqualified, loud mouth, bigoted, xenophobic…oh hell, the list is endless.
By their actions I have now divided all people into, “He/she voted for Trump”, or This person didn’t vote for Trump”.
Today, a guy who acted like he owned the fucking aisle at the store where I grocery shop was instantly placed into the former category. As I waited for him to move his cart out of the way he glared at me with that early fifty-something, “I’m a white man, Master-Of-This-Aisle and the Known World, with his three thousand dollar suit and five hundred dollar shoes, I smiled and hit him with my “Hey, how are ya?” smile and said, “I’m in no hurry.” He continued to glare but after a moment the hard look in his face was undercut with a ‘What the fuck do I say to this huge man of color who’s being so sarcastically nice to me?
I reached over, moved his cart out of my way and wished him a nice day…didn’t give a flying fuck what he felt or thought after that. But I suppressed an urge to turn around and ask him who the hell he thought he was to glare at me like that.
I’ve become a damn stereotype…
Well, except in a way, I balanced my rage with calm, albeit sarcastic, action.
I guess the college kid is correct.
I ain’t lying.