Context: My parents sent my brother and myself this crazy long message over WeChat (what else?) re: Berkeley protests against the Milo Yiannopoulos speaker event and telling us to stay safe and wanting to open up a discussion of all the madness of the current world because we don’t usually make enough of an effort to seriously cover all that during our Facetime calls.
Don’t know how I missed the Berkeley news from yesterday but that was surprising to say the least and shocking. It’s strange going on the UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens page and watching them construct candlelight vigils for their Amazon store or whatever while also wondering what it’d be like to be there for when things turned violent.
The thought of any blood or fake bullets on the UMich Diag would completely freak me out, so I have no idea how I’d react if were a Berkeley student right now. Probably try to make sense of it through humor and shared empathy and – right or wrong – rationalization.
Regardless, I think I am grateful for how open and honest and informed my parents have tried to be throughout this all.
Though it’s easy to attribute much of these conversations to overworrying, it’s also just as easy to envision a very near future where something happens with China and all of sudden we’re screwed – economically and definitely personally. If my parents were to be stuck in China and unable to return to the US…or even if they could return but could never go back and see the grandparents again or something terrible like that…I don’t even know what I’d do.
The fact that we even have to mentally and possibly make legitimate contingency plans for this type of shit is completely and utterly unbelievable. I cannot believe we live in a world where this is reality. And I also cannot believe how unreal this reality feels most of the time. I guess despite my occasional outbursts, I’m still very much in the mainstream way of dealing with all of this morally undermining, freedom stripping situation – read it, get angry, make a joke about it and smh HARD, try to forget about it, move on. What else are we supposed to do?
At the end of the day, they say every person can make a difference and can effect change – but what does that even look like in the face of the destruction of an entire society? Are we just supposed to give up our day jobs and dedicate our lives to this twisted, completely hell-bent unfair system of policy and politics? I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’d even consider saying yes to that and this is coming from a place like SF.
Moving on and living your own life is a skill in its own right – but at what point do you decide enough is enough? At what point does it become a case where you trying to live your own life and be nice and go with the flow turns you into a freaking Nazi sympathizer or non-resister, as that quote that’s been floating around the social media platforms go? The answer is we don’t know. We won’t know until it’s too late.
Already I can picture some pretty bad scenarios going down with China. Not the worst case scenario, mind you, because I’m not that creatively pessimistic, only predictably cynical. But COME ON.
This life of living in the unknown, living in limbo, living in what would be fear but isn’t quite fear outright because that’s privilege for you, is certainly different than anything I’ve ever experienced or would’ve expected to experience growing up.
If I’m being honest, I definitely thought growing up would mean I’d come into my own (which has mostly happened, no complaints there) and get a grasp on my role in society (meh working on it) and carry it out fruitfully and be an active and useful person in the fabric of an ever improving and forward looking world.
Things I did not expect: for the every day people that make up an entire country to become so divided and so unable to understand because their lives had morphed into lives so drastically different, that they’d fight to the bitter end to see their way of life and values win out. That, in doing so, we’d end up electing someone so far out there on the end of an extreme that half the country is literally unable to sleep at night because they’re so worried about what their President is going to do to them or their family or their job or their community the next day or week or month.
It’s not what American citizens are used to at all. Maybe it’s like a twisted turning of the tides where all the formerly unstable governments gradually become stable and move toward healthy – for lack of a better government that immediately comes to mind – democracies, while the US slowly begins to degrade itself until its people come to understand what so much of the rest of the world has been living through for ages.
Even writing this feels strange, because I do so in an honest effort to make myself feel better about everything that’s going on. Not that any of it can change a single thing, but that it’s important as a normal human being to get closure and be able to internalize the external horror but compartmentalize it away so as to get on with normal life. Otherwise every time something random happened we as humans would be completely unable to function. That would be worse. Wouldn’t it?
Although the alternative we’re in right now is carry on as if everything is normal even though it completely definitely totally is not.