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Essay: Burning with the World
As Of April 7th, I Will Go To Hell
Watching Trump get elected was a spiritual experience for me, a klaxon telling me to look for a new way to be in the world. I have too much of an ascetic in me. I have to suffer to be motivated. I’ve been called a “stubborn learner” in group therapy. I’ve also burnt my hands on multiple stoves and been fired from three food service jobs. Nevertheless I persist.
When Donald Trump was elected I posted this on Facebook, which I will excerpt the most important parts:
"I spent all of tonight in a suicidal panic. Do you want an actual blood and guts reality of what we're in? I wanted to die. Not in a cute irony way. I texted a crisis line I despise, twice. I don't have a plan. I don't want to die. But I also feel like I have no options, no future, no nothing. So I don't really want to be alive either…"
"When I was in college, we bombed Libya. I thought we were through. It was the scariest day of my political life, by far. Until today."
"I'm not writing this out of a mealy mouthed 'God, I can't believe it' stance. I'm writing it out of a place of terror and pain."
"A depressed person lives in a world where it can end at any second and nobody can offer relief and nobody can give you the emotional shelter you need. They live in a world of paranoia where everybody picks the easiest way out, instead of dealing with them…"
"I've been gaslit and abused. But what you hold on to is: someday there will be a somebody who tells you you were worth all the pain and struggle of your inner life and you can fight through it and come out a better person and that deep down people love you. But the fear never goes away that you get the world you believe you deserve. And apparently that world is the one we chose to live in last night."
"This America is the depressive's America and I hope you never have to be hurt so much that you have to see your anxieties come true…."
I think I'll do the only thing I can, and turn to my faith and exploring its contours. Quakers believe in a notion called unprogrammed worship, where short vocal testimony comes as they "listen for the still, small voice that comes from God through the Inward Light." I felt something like that writing this and I plan on going to my first meeting of Friends this Sunday. I'm also a practicing Zen Buddhist.
My writing hero David Milch said this: "When you are not writing, you’re going to be sad. You are going to feel inadequate. You are going to feel untalented. You are going to feel incompetent. It’s crucially important to understand that the impulse to write is a reaching out to God.” My art is an expression of my faith and one I intend to express every day. Even the silliest projects have been done in that understanding. The divine is so much above me, but I believe if I work to live simply and ameliorate other's suffering my life will serve as protest."
Milch’s quote to me dovetails nicely with the idea of spontaneous worship and the sudden moment of enlightenment which can be battled for forever and never obtained, even though that’s the point.
That night I realized that if we went to war I wouldn’t go. I would object. I’m writing now that I am objecting so there’s no confusion on the matter and in the future event I have to explain my positions on toilet paper or bed sheets. As of April 7th, I refuse to go to war.
I reject the way America has wielded its militaristic influence since World War II, when we learned nothing from Eisenhower’s warnings about the military industrial complex. Note I don’t say “Republicans”. I reject the idea that America is so enlightened that all of our military actions are well meaning or well thought out. That is a check that will always bounce when you deposit it into my account, and would in everybody’s if everyone thought about it.
I also reject, as a Zen Buddhist, the creation of meaningless suffering, when most of my focus in religious thought is already based on the idea that suffering is ineffable and connected to our need and desire to have what we cannot acquire.
As an aspiring Quaker, a creed following of which requires me to wake up for once before eleven a.m. in the morning on a Sunday, I reject the war because God, whatever it may be, does not require me to go to war for a country where the quickest way to bipartisan consensus is to bomb the ever-loving shit out of people we never meet. I would fight for my country if my country was attacked. It might be begrudging, but it would be considered. My country hasn’t been attacked.
Yet again, we’re going on a cleansing mission to liberate a grip of Middle Easterners who we won’t welcome into our own country from the tightened fist of “radical Islamic terrorism” while ignoring the radical terrorism in the everyday actions of middle class white people whose fear of an evening set of scales sends them on a death drive conducted under the banner of a Christianity that is more about the worship of a market and asking first what God can do for you rather than you can do for others, which is why Donald Trump’s conversion was so easy.
I’m also an abuse survivor who knows suicidal ideation like the palm of my hand, because I’ve been suffering from it since I was 13. I’ve fought too long and too hard to be gaslit into a war whose ideological backing comes from a zooted nationalist who has read a couple of books and is now the Washington equivalent of The Secret Agent’s Professor, declared by his gibbering idiot guinea pig of a mouthpiece, and bandied along by a media mogul advisor who looks the physical embodiment of skim milk. I’ve tore myself from a head first dive into the abyss too many times to have a group of racist Muppets tell me to poke my nose out and get a good whiff of the wafting stench rising from the chasm so they can push me. I will not die for their agenda because I wouldn’t die for my worst tendencies’ either. They resemble the men who have hated me the most and I won’t give them what they need.
I am not going to fight to get the respect of people who wouldn’t give it to me otherwise and would use whatever limb and extra PTSD I get as political capital for CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to talk about how far they’ve came from the days they were calling Mexicans rapists.
I am not a monk. I’m a person with a day to day life, with crushes on the unattainable and stupid ideas who is struggling to be a better person, and, like a baseball player, failing 3/4ths of the time I am at bat.
If a draft comes, I’ll take the spit and anger as they fly on me. If a draft does not come, I will support the troops by fighting to get them the hell out of a war so they can enjoy their lives. If there’s no war, I’ll eat this document onstage. I will also tell you wait, wait and see.
I have no interest in answering to the President, because, like Ice Cube before me, I don’t want to have dinner with him and I never will. I am beholden to impressing the ghost of Mark Twain, myself, and anyone who finds me attractive. I will quote a ghost here:
"I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.
"I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves.
"But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem."
I’m sure plenty of wonderful business opportunities will arise from this venture and, Godspeed to those going on them. To quote the ghost again, I admire you for it and when your time comes I would like a piece of the rope along with any other collaborator, Republican or Democrat, because there are plenty on each side of the aisle. My email will be open for anyone to tell me I should be ashamed or desiring citations. And there will be one automatic response email: alright then, I’ll go to hell.
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