Where have we heard that before?
Of course you have to go to parties and bars and travel and pretend Covid doesn't exist. It's for your mental health. Of course you have to visit Hawaii and snorkel in water that bodies were floating in the day before. Of course you have to go to a concert right next to an open air prison or.. concentration camp.
You deserve a little treat. Consequences are for other people, even if they come from your actions. How could you have known, when your fear was our teacher? I am living in fear, but it's yours.
Justifications are another infectious disease.
We give each other a hall pass to commit harm and then hey, everyone's doing it. So you stopping won't help anyways. It's not like tuning out or turning away matters, you can't do anything. Right?
A new normal has been set and you're just following it. You're just following guidelines or policies or rules or leaders. What do people expect from you? That you'll mask forever? That you'll cancel a trip because locals are missing and displaced? That you will support terrorists? That you'll sacrifice anything so another person might live or suffer less?
Early in the pandemic, it would've been considered poor taste to post maskless photos doing risky Covid behavior. At least on the left, the "pro science" side. One of the many divisions they use to indoctrinate and contain us. Science as a religion. Vaccines are on a pedestal, the height of our species achievement. So polarized we can't even admit when they are not effective enough.
Despite high breakthrough infections, now it's a rarity to see anyone in a mask. So those of us who still mask are harassed and targeted for it. Most people went back to a 2019 normal and the rest of us are paying the cost of their denial and comfort. We are carrying the entire pandemic burden while living in bodies and lives you could never accept.
It eats into every day of my life and because I can't stop you, I often wish I could stop existing. I've been told time and time again that my life is not even worth living. In some ways they are right and it aches to admit it. But my confinement is more comfortable than other people's, so I should be grateful. For the indefinite isolation, exile from public spaces, abandonment by most of the people that I loved, inability to safely access healthcare.
At least the fear of forced infection keeps me home which protects me from forced birth or being a mass shooting victim. At least my basic needs are met right now.
Hierarchy ranks us in multiple ways so the ground is always shifting underneath our feet, fractures splitting across the earth to separate us. Connection and comparison become enmeshed, the same way we enmesh with our in groups and nuclear families. If you are not the most oppressed in a moment or in a movement, you must minimize your struggle or force yourself into gratitude. Guilt-itude buries the pure gratitude of everything that can't be bought or sold. The complexity of harm and history buries our pure guilt and complicity too. The system is built to deprive us of interbeing and interdependence, so of course each attempt at explanation or connection burns. It is meant to. So we stop trying.
We justify. We rationalize. But we are careful not to seek true understanding or action. It's too complex and confusing and uncomfortable.
It's okay. I'm okay. I keep telling myself.
I record my own voice to keep myself company while I continue to exist out of spite and solidarity.
Just stay home. So you can go out. Be vulnerable, so you can be invulnerable. Just stay silent so you don't have to witness violence. Just die and disappear so you can live.
After all, you're the chosen ones. Skin pale enough for us to always be defined as white or at least in the right circumstances. You're the ones with the healthy, invincible bodies. The immune system you think you boosted through infections or some shady ass supplement or superstition. You must accept science or completely reject it. The disposable income to consume and consume and occasionally even buy a green product. Some charity or volunteer project that you put on like a Good Person Coat. Slithering each arm into "white" and "savior".
The choices and identities that you believe protect you. Because you are so disconnected from reality and by extension, yourself. They have to know us to keep themselves safe and we don't have to know ourselves. Because we are inculpable.
If we paid attention to our bodies and had boundaries we wouldn't need someone to tell us we can take a break. We would just know our natural limitations instead of the conditioned ones. But we are dissociated from our bodies. Because it's profitable. Just not for us.
Are you going for self protection or projection? Like broadcasting our own guilt into public messages of toxic positivity and white right to comfort. Taking turns as permission giver or taker. Are you anxious or avoidant? Femme or masc? Top or bottom? A binary echo of our divisive socioeconomic hierarchy: the same space filling pattern of plant and animal capillaries. Except instead of sustaining, it suppresses. Instead of uniting, it divides. Instead of creative divergence like evolution, it converges into monopolies and monopsonies and billionaires.
You expect us to carry your worst parts while exploiting our fears of being just like you. Anti-zionist becomes antisemitic. Admitting limitations of current vaccines to get people to mask is "soft anti-vax". Protesting genocide at the capital is insurgency. Being trans makes you a groomer pushing surgeries for kids, but we aren't the ones cutting foreskins off infants or pink and blue slices out of gender reveal cakes.
Just write false equivalency on your justifications hall pass. You can use it for both sides.
You know who can't be disconnected from our bodies, who can't push themselves past their limits? Disabled people. We are also heavily online because offline often has even more access issues for us. Social media profits from our isolation, the same way we pay a disability tax for every area of life. You make ableism into a joke to distance yourself from the possibility that you'll join us. Throw in a command to "touch grass". As we starve from a lack of human touch and presence and belonging, you can tell us we're faking all of it.
Our reality is your fear so you avoid us, you clam up, you get uncomfortable. You push wheelchairs, pet our service dogs, and record us like we aren't even there. Or much worse.
Every person who's experienced oppression knows that social friction. We know the unending and sometimes unpredictable obstacles and violence that condition us into not even trying. Then blaming yourself not only for the lack of attempt, but for the mindset that led to it. The skills we learn from trauma and adversity only count in a hero narrative. We must sell our story as someone else's solution, even when our problems aren't solved. We are commodified resilience.
Opposing forces like scarcity and abundance could never be in flow. We traded those connected dynamic dualities for separate static binaries.
Pick. A. Side. And stick with it, because it's who you are now.
Be delusional, whenever it's convenient or profitable. But not too delusional. You must dream for individual riches and individual riches only.
Our identities clash with oppressive societies and systems into a cloud of complexity that suffocates us while also hiding that harm from anyone who is unlike us. Even if we could relate or empathize or hear the echoes of their cries, we cannot imagine the atrocities others have been assigned. The weight they bear of which we are unaware.
White phosphorus. White phosphorus. White phosphorus.
It's okay that they are terrorized because they are all terrorists. Right? Or have we forced some people to carry the fears of others again.
As I search the internet for the right words to describe a population deprived of water, they share their last days in content in my native language. So I can consume it. Our words war, conflict, ceasefire, unprovoked, condemn become one more prison for them.
Even as we are the sole vote against their survival, we are forgiven our imperialist sins while they collectively pay for sins they did not do or were forced into.
We are all supposed to condemn Hamas but they were funded by Israel to divide Palestinians. And the US funds Israel, our little Middle Eastern investment that trains our militarized police.
Won't you condemn the United States of America?
You can't be what you can't see. And the last thing wealth and power hoarders want, is for you to see your own vulnerability and mortality in anyone's reflection. We have to be caged in camps, prisons, institutions, hospitals, homes. We have to be segregated or hidden or we have to die. Our stories can't be told in news or media. All so they can trick you with the intoxicating sense of condemnation and righteousness and meritocracy. So you will work for their cause and wealth, with a promise of future riches in this life or the next.
God's plan apparently. After all, we should be honored and grateful for the privilege of being your carnival mirror.
Even as ghosts, you will believe you deserve wealth and comfort just like we deserve every last one of the thousand cuts you dealt out. Our eternal damnation. Just a little boy who's landlord built him a treehouse. Just a man dancing at a gas station. Just a chemo patient getting infusions with maskless providers. Just a mentally ill person getting assisted suicide, because they can't get treatment or support.
People will only see the choice to die and not the absence of a choice to live. We know the consequences of our actions, we are tired of bearing yours.
You see our deaths as natural because you see us as unnatural. Our lives and cultures are too glittery and colorful and tasty and vibrant and accessible and loud and connected and alive. Something about us makes you afraid and ashamed. You will fight or flight from our truth just to avoid yours.
You will build your strengths on the weaknesses we never disowned.
Our existence is resistance.
What if we refuse to die for the lie your life is built upon?
Breaking the 4th wall to give more context on this piece. The switching of pronouns is intentional, it is a way to make identity shift throughout the piece. For me as the author and for the reader. Which group am I in? Which group are you in? Are we separate or apart? Individualism or collectivism? Who is being harmed and who is harming? That is the shifting ground we stand on. It is also meant to reflect on the internal parts we have that echo interpersonal and societal parts and conflict. This pronouns shifting technique is an invitation to doubt and discomfort that is part of my writing practice.