In my very early years I was taught, much like every other child at the time, to trust authority. Parents, teachers, coaches, police officers, firemen, immediate neighbors, all had the right to tell me what I could and couldn’t do. I was taught to listen and obey. I was taught to trust them all. When I entered my teen years, I quickly discovered that trusting authority came at a price. Of course, the common price was the freedom to be an idiot, stupid, and ignorant. A typical teenaged angst and rebellion. But, for me there was a much more serious and detrimental price. My need for the necessary guidance to become a productive and confident adult was summarily ignored. Parents, teachers, coaches, police officers, firemen, and immediate neighbors never once took the time to guide me toward self-reliance, a higher education, or took the time to teach me how to dream and reach for that dream. Instead, I was maligned, told I would never amount to anything, and that I would always fail. At 13 I was left to my own devices. After my parent’s divorced I ran away multiple times, covering thousands and thousands of miles hitchhiking across the country, bouncing from the road to juvenile detention centers to foster homes, from one school to another. It was the streets of America where I learned, very quickly, that trusting anyone could cost you your life. It was the streets of America where I learned to trust no one.
America the Beautiful
On the open road throughout my teen years, the one thing that stood out to me the most about my travels was how beautiful America was. The vastness and diversity of the ecology, geography, the places, the people… As dangerous as it was for me to be wandering the country, I always felt that America was still home. Even though I’d had many different “homes”, America was my real home. I was free. And no matter how bad things were, or how bad they would get, I knew the open road and the beauty of America was always there for me. For some reason, I still bought into the idyllic, Norman Rockwell, version of America that I’d been taught in grade school. For some reason, I trusted that one thing, that one single ideal burned deeply into my brain. America was my home. America was MY home. America the beautiful.
The Bald-Faced Lie
Some 20 years later, I came to know that the idyllic Norman Rockwell version of America is a bald-faced lie. It is a carefully crafted illusion designed to manipulate, subjugate, and control the ignorant and the gullible. Essentially, everyone with a pulse and a penchant for fairy tales. The great faux nostalgia of U.S. history is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the unseemly, violent, and often despicable birth and creation of a nation that lays supreme claim to the idea of freedom for all. The “great experiment” has been glossed over with impenetrable acrylic, wrapped in the prettiest of wrapping paper, and then tied tightly with an inviting Bald Eagle shaped bow. It’s been scented with grandma’s apple pie laced with the aphrodisiac of patriotism. It’s been masterfully marketed and is jealously protected by a fierce nationalism and exceptionalism of dangerous proportions.
Divided We are Falling
American citizens have proven, generation after generation, election cycle after election cycle, that they are deaf, dumb, blind, scared and stupid. Self-governance can only be achieved if the PEOPLE are attentive, informed, involved participants. Self-governance can only succeed when the PEOPLE listen, open their eyes, have courage of conviction to the principle of freedom for ALL, and are willing to compromise for the benefit of ALL. Unfortunately, no one appears to really care. Compromise has become anathema. Anyone or anything that benefits ALL is unpatriotic. Facts, evidence, knowledge, truth… Totally acceptable collateral damage in a self-inflicted war. Authoritarians, thugs, deplorables, xenophobes, homophobes, racists, fascists against social justice, fairness, equality… reality. Divided we are falling. Democracy. The “great experiment” is over. Fear, jealousy, ignorance, anger, violence, tribalism, zealotry… These will now rule the future.
Trust No One
I trust no one. Survive. That is all I will do. Trust no one. Hope? No. I have none. I’ve learned that without trust, there’s no hope. When we can no longer reach out to one another, no matter our differences, there can be no trust. Trust is for fools.