Blind Chuckle

As I walk down the path to his rundown amusement park, some thugs dressed in clown suits come out of the shadows. Poor souls, thinking they'll make a difference; how does he find these characters?

I dispatch them in the same manner that I have so many times before and, like clockwork, his laugh echoes from a small hut in the distance. As expected, he sits waiting, with that demoniacal grin.

"Hello again, Batsy! Oh, what a wonderful sight for sore eyes!"

"Poisoning an orphanage, Joker. This may be a new low for you."

"New low? It was a new high! Did you see their faces? Such wonderful smiles. They loved my jokes, unlike some snarky snark we both know."

He sat there, waiting my usual cold response of "You're insane," or "I'm bringing you back to Arkham." But, I don't know, I just wasn't up for it anymore. Not with him anyway.

"How old are you?" I ask him.

"Ooh, thinking of asking me out, Batsy?" He strokes his hair in a clumsy attempt of a satirizing sexy pose. "Thirty years younger, my gloomy friend, and who knows what would have happened?"

That was obviously a clue.

"That would have made you around 35 years old when you killed Murray on live television." Remembering that terrible night.

"Oh my! Does Batsy like'em young instead? I mean, looking at Catwoman or Batgirl, I would guess so."

He's avoiding the topic. Joker may be unpredictable, but we've doing this for so long that I've picked up on some hints into his bluffs.

"That was 40 years ago, Joker. But you don't look a day older than 30..."

"Oh, hush, you makin' me blush!"

"75 years. And more than half of your life after me. Testing and poking to see if I would break my rules. Four decades of a back-and-forth that frankly it's not only getting old, but also..."

He stays silent. First time since ever.

"Aren't you tired? After all this time, you should have already suspected that I'm not going to change my mind. Wouldn't you like to stop? To focus on something worthwhile that, I don't know..."

His grin turns sour. "... on something that is not only getting old but, also, well lets face it: unfunny?"

I nod.

"Just like me! Hahaha!" He maniacally laughs.

However, a small smile creeps out of me too. I can't help it; that was actually funny.

"And there it is, old friend, the chuckle I've been looking for."

Wait.

'Chuckle'? Not 'smile'?

He also told me to 'hush'.

And he greeted me with 'a sight for sore eyes'.

I waive my hand in front of him. He doesn't react.

"Somebody went quiet. What ya thinkin' about? Has the Batman figured it out? Hahaha, of course you have. Jealous? I'm more like a bat than you, Batsy! Hahaha!"

I take out my portable CT scanner from my utility belt and point it at him. And, there it is: a tumor the size of a baseball in his medulla oblongata, the part of the brain that controls involuntary actions like breathing, cardiac rhythms... like sight. It's inoperable, and growing slowly.

He must be in terrible pain.

"Why so glum, chum? Didn't like my new friend? I think I'll name it: Brian. Like Brain? Get it? Hahahuh! Cah, cof. Uh. Hoo, hoo."

The choking in his laughter was impossible to ignore.

The rate of growth of the tumor is also problematic: without treatment, it will surely kill him, but it is going to take decades to do so. Decades of not knowing if the next breath or heartbeat is going to be the last. It is going to be hell.

"Oh, so much inner monologue, Batsy! Aren't you going to lock up the naughty Joker, the baddy batty Joker? Your parade by the Gothamites awaits!"

"No... not this time."

"Whaaa?" His mouth, wide open, was almost cartoonish.

"I can help you. Let me help you. Let's end this, and let's do it on a good note. Please. Let's just stop."

A beat of unending silence overwhelmed the hut. His stare turned sad for a millisecond. But...

"No, Batsy. It's too late for that. Cof, cah..." He stares blankly into the distance, and with an impossible sweetness he smiles at me. "Hahaha. 'On a good note', nice one!"

"Ha... didn't realize the pun. Hehehe" I chuckled. That's right. Chuckled.

Then I started laughing out loud, and he joined me, as we both started to tear up. Our joined laughter was a perfect melody that blocked out our joined cries.

...

I've always wondered why I kept the gun that I was going to use to kill Joe Chill (my parent's murderer). And I wondered even more why I always kept it in my utility belt.

It is now clear why.

I pull out the gun and point it at his forehead.

"Goodbye, old friend."

"I always knew I could count on you, Batsy. Hahah..."

His blood spatters all over my cape, and as he falls to the ground, I realize: 'Count', Get it? Like Count Dracula? A bat? He he he. Ha...

Ha ha ha HA HA HA HA ha ha he he he... ha... aahh ahhh!

AHHH! AHhh! ahh... ahh... ehh ehh... sigh...

... so you left me too, old friend. The only one that actually understood, even when I couldn't. I hope you're happy. He he he...

I remove my cowl and throw it along with the gun. They land beside his body.

I sit at his side as I hear the police sirens getting closer.

I take out my handcuffs and fit them onto my wrists.

I still have my rules, old friend: I will accept my detention as the consequence of your freedom.

He he he... funny.

 

I just realized that you were right all along, Joker: life can be funny sometimes. I'll try to remember that.

J19 Zeta 7

"You're too cold, too distant. You think you know it all and you know what Rick? You may actually know everything, but you don't feel anything."

That was the last time she ever spoke to me. Idiot. She didn't know what that meant for this dimension.

Every Rick has a Morty. I needed a Morty. She leaving me would have left this dimension incomplete. And incomplete dimensions are bound for destruction.

Gratefully, she re-married. Her daughter married an idiot, like expected, and created my Morty. A real, complete, utter idiot... he was perfect for me.

["Gratefully, she re-married..." funny how language works.]

Do not confuse my frequent visits to her house as anything else: I was just supervising the progress of my Morty. When he was 14, I broke into their house and claimed what was mine.

He didn't talk much at first, leading me to believe that he had mental retardation. But, no, he was just (ugh) sad.

"Why are you wasting energy feeling like that? We are going to overthrow the Council of Ricks and rule everything!"

"Uhhh, I don't know, Rick. Uhh, I miss mom.... and grandma."

"Ungrateful idiot. I hope you realize that she almost doomed this dimension for destruction by leaving me. She almost killed trillions and trillions of species across this dimension because of 'marital problems'. Are you seriously telling me you miss that selfish bitch?"

Throwing my hands into the air in frustration, "Bah, who cares about her? Let's just do our thing."

"Uhh, yeah... wow, Rick, for a person that supposedly doesn't care abou..."

"And besides, she was always talking about feeling this and feeling that. Why? WHAT IS SO FUCKING IMPORTANT ABOUT FEELING?!"

"Uhh, Rick if you don't care about her, why are you so angry?"

"I'M NOT!"

He kept quiet. Too fucking quiet.

"Say something."

"uhh... I... I miss grandma."

"Oh for fuck's sake!"

"ok ok, fine... uhhh... what does this button do?" Pointing at the on/off switch of my portal gun.

"It turns it on. Don't touch it. It will throw you into another dimension."

"uuhh, cool, to what dimension?"

"Doesn't matter. If it throws you and you don't have a portal gun, you may get stuck there. I cannot let th..."

"right, I'm your cloaking device."

"Yeah. Because of that."

He looks at me annoyingly. The same annoying stare that she used to have. Fuck. He looks so much like her...

"huh, uhmm, and only that?" He taunts, smugly.

I stutter. "Of, of course. What else could there be?"

"uhmm... I don't know. Maybe something else?" he smirks at me. Like her. Her same smirk.

"Stop that. Right now."

"What?" he continues.

"Stop it, Morty."

"Oooh someone cares for somebody, doesn't he?" she says... I mean, he says. And he does it in that all too familiar and annoying tone.

"STOP. IT." My hands find themselves tightening his neck, picking him up from the floor.

"aghhhg, wh... wh" he stutters.

"WHAT?"

"wh.. wh... why?"

I can't answer him. I can't answer that question. I will not let myself lower myself to her... ahh... to his level.

[Why do I keep doing that?]

I let him go. As he falls to the ground, he lets out a small squeal. He even sounds like her.

"Fuck." I grunt.

This isn't going to work.

"uhmm, what isn't going to work?"

Fuck. Did he hear me? I thought I said that to myself.

"uhhh, Rick, what isn't going to work?"

Staring at him I can see the endless abyss of constantly seeing her. How am I suppose to use this Morty without seeing him?

It suddenly dawns on me, "Of course".

I won't bore you with the details. Long story, short: I work in my lab for the next couple of weeks in what probably is my greatest invention. A mind switcher. It's perfect: I'll switch with him. I'll leave my idiotic memories with him and he'll truly think he's a Rick. I'll keep mine, with a cognitive layer for cloaking. I won't need to see her anymore...

"uhh, what? see who, Rick?"

Fuck! 'Him'. I meant 'him'. I need to stop doing that.

"Rick? see who, Rick?"

"Nobody. Get in the machine."

"uhh, ok, what's going to happen when I do?"

"Shut up and get in."

I turn on the mind switcher. The result is instant. I stumble a bit, but it seems everything went well.

"uhh, Morty, Morty, what happened? What did you do?"

I stay silent. I walk towards my portal gun.

"Morty... what? how? Oh God... oh... something's wrong... I... I feel..."

"What?! No. You can't feel. There's nothing there that can feel."

"My God. I miss her so much! I loved her. The best thing in my life and she left me."

"No. Stop it. This is not you."

"What? Morty, of course it's me. I... Oh God!"

He starts crying.

"Oh for fuck's sake. Stop it." I grab my portal gun.

He turns his back towards me and crawls into a ball. I set my portal gun to dimension J19 Zeta 7. No Rick exists there. It's perfect.

"... ok. Ok. It's ok." He seems to start to compose himself. "Ok. I think I'm good."

I start shaking as I aim my portal gun at him.

"It's weird, though. I mean, it hurts, but I think it's ok. Because, you know what? I think it's for the best. She's happy you know. It hurts, but it's ok."

"What did you say?!"

"Yeah. You know. I'm really going to miss her. But, I'm happy for her. I think I wasn't the best for her. I'm glad she found someone that made her happy."

"STOP IT."

He starts to stand up. "And, actually, I think I'm going to be ok. It's going to be difficult, but if she's able to be happy, so can I. You know?"

"No. SHUT UP!"

I pull the trigger. He disappears.

Then my portal gun hisses. A hiss that usually comes from a teardrop falling onto a hot portal gun that has just been fired.

I stand in disbelief, but I cannot deny it.

"I miss her." I say out loud, but nobody is here to hear it.

There. I felt. Hope she's happy...

No, I... I mean...

[sigh... funny how language works.]

Best Kind of Practice

Since I was a kid, I've always wanted to be a public servant. It was romantic to think of me as a person that could defend others that couldn't defend themselves. That's why I decided to study Law, and I actually turned out to be good at it. Not because of any innate ability, it's just that if you like doing something, even if you're bad at it at first, the improvement comes with practice. Even more so if you have somebody to guide you through it.

The White House has always been for me a place that embodies public service, and I would not have imagined standing in its west entrance, about to meet with Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, for a job interview. To have a meeting with a person so high up in the administrative pyramid would usually mean good news, but this is a Democratic White House, a liberal White House, and Mr. Lyman doesn't like Republicans. The reason I was somewhat anxious was that I grew up in a conservative household; I was bred Republican.

Fortunately, I've had practice dealing with liberals... the best kind of practice.

I remember when I received the letter about a job offer as a clerk for Justice Roy Ashland. I was dumbfounded: he may well be the most liberal judge the Supreme Court has ever had, and he wanted me to work for him. At first I thought it was a joke, maybe a jab to my thesis supervisor, since they knew each other socially. When I told him, he smiled and said "So he did took me up in my suggestion. You two will be a great fit." He proceeded in telling me about his time as a clerk working with Justice Brady, who was the political polar opposite of Justice Ashland. My supervisor's friend, a brilliant fiercely conservative lawyer, was offered the same job as I was. He was also dumbfounded at the time, but he accepted the offer because we all know that clerking for an Associate Judge looks good in a resume, even if it is only for a couple of weeks. His friend ended up working for him for the next five years.

At that time, I was working in the New York City Department of Transportation but was looking for another job opportunity to grow in the public sector. So I took the job offer on those grounds, without any idea on what it would turn into.

When I first was called into Justice Ashland's, he looked at me with eyes that cut through flesh. Eyes that you either can't look at directly or can't stop staring at. They were indescribably off-putting, and quite effective at putting down other Justices. His eyes were legendary.

"Mr. Quincy. Come in."

"You can call me Joe, sir."

"We're not there yet, Mr. Quincy."

"Yes, of course, sir. I'm sorry."

"Not as much as I am," he said, pulling out a piece of paper from out of one the drawers from his desk. "Do you really believe that a company has the right to discriminate their clientele based on race, religion, sexuality or gender?"

He was referring to my Law Review Note I wrote ten years prior about a company's freedom of choice of who to conduct business with. This is a topic of contention between liberals and conservatives, and my Note made the rounds. It got some attention from conservative lawyers, including my thesis supervisor. It was not well received in liberal publications. "Oh, God," I said to myself.

"He's not here, Mr. Quincy. I, on the other hand, still am."

"I... well, I mean... see... capitalism works when the State lets the free market works itself out."

"You're not an economist, Mr. Quincy. And even if you were, and that free market dribel of yours were to be correct, you're basically saying that discrimination is fine if it makes money for the company. This is not about Economics, it's about Law. And you seem fine that a private school does not let homosexual students in."

At this moment, I don't know what happened, but I suddenly got very angry. He was turning my words inside out, making them say what wasn't there. I couldn't help it.

"What?! Where in that paper does it ever state that? You're completely misreading my contention!"

He grinned. His eyes completely shifted to something else. To some other kinder plane. "Good. Let's pause here. I need you to go back to your desk and re-write this paper in such a manner that someone like me does not attack you from that side."

"What side?", I stuttered, trying to compose myself.

"A private school is a company. The same as a hospital. In your paper you're not distinguishing between services that are essential and those that are luxury or with an abundance of options. With such a broad stroke, you're letting yourself be branded as a fascist."

I stood there in silence. Part of me was trying to absorb what he was saying, and the other was just too damn...

"And, Mr. Quincy, the moment you let the other side touch a nerve, you have lost the argument. Breathe. Thinking you're right is not enough. You need to be steady, for the sake of your point. That is all. I want to see a draft by tomorrow."

By this moment in time, my other side was a lake of still water. I walked outside and closed the door to his office. Then, a roar of thunder went through my head: he read my Law Review Note. A Supreme Court Justice read my paper and debated me about it. He cared.

The following day he called me into his office.

"I read your revised Note. Better. However..."

"Bring it on." I thought.

"Is it now your contention that a company has the right to discriminate in order to preserve our freedom of worship?"

"Yes, the people working in the company should not be forced to violate their freedom of worship when working there. If homosexuality is a sincere violation of their religious beleif, the State should not require the person to deal with them."

His posture was unfazed, and his eyes were staring right down my soul. I continued, "Let's look it another way, I think you would agree that the State should not force a Jew to deal with a known Nazi."

He smiled. Looked down at his desk. Nodded. And with with a calm but rumbling voice said: "You are not equating being a homosexual to being a Nazi, are you?"

"N... No. Of course not."

"And protecting people that carry out illegal acts based on their religious beliefs would open the freedom-of-worship clause up for abuse. Companies would start quoting the Quran to justify cutting off hands because of theft."

"Right..." I didn't know how to respond.

He leaned back, as if a demon just exorcised itself from his body. His stare turned kind again. "Ok. Let's leave it there. It was a good jab, but too big of a swing. We are not psychics; we cannot judge the legality of an act based on what's in the perpetrator's head. Also, don't use Nazis in your arguments. You're just begging to be ridiculed. Come back tomorrow with a better response."

"Yes, sir."

I didn't sleep that night, reading court cases and rulings to find some precedent, inspiration, providence. Anything. By the time I was called into his office the following morning, I had nothing.

"Well, Mr. Quincy?"

"I'm sorry, sir. I couldn't come up with a better response."

He looked at me with the kindest of stares. "Are you saying that you now believe the State should mettle in the inner workings of a family bakery?"

"No. Well... maybe. What you said yesterday, made sense. But..."

He sat in his chair, in silent expectation. "Yes?"

"I guess it depends..."

"On what?"

All of a sudden, something clicked inside of me: "You've been playing with the words ‘people', ‘person', and ‘family' in the same context as ‘company'."

"I wouldn't call it ‘playing', but go on."

"A company is not a person. It doesn't have the same rights as a person, like participation in a democratic vote or public education. But it doesn't have the same obligations either. The State cannot expect the company to conduct itself with the obligations of a person, such as ‘do not discriminate', because it isn't one. So a company can discriminate if need be. The people inside the company, however, may suffer the consequences of those actions, either by being sued by the discriminated clientele or by the free market itself."

"Good."

"Good? Really? Did I change your mind?"

He belt out a big laugh. "No, Mr. Quincy. You haven't specified which people inside the company should be sued, and, thus, should not be protected. Also, a monopolistic company cannot suffer the consequences from a free market when there isn't one."

"Oh... right."

"But, you're starting to sound more like a real lawyer."

I smiled. "Thank you, sir."

"Sleep for a few hours, and then come back to work."

"Yes, sir. Thank you." I don't know if it was the zombie-like state I was in, or the fact that the six cups of coffee were wearing out, but I couldn't help asking, "Sir, if I may: we obviously don't see eye to eye in a number of key issues. And you definitely have better things to do with your time. Why do this?"

He let out a faint sigh, as if my question was both expected and surprising at the same time. He leaned back again, and looked over my head. "I once read that David Goodstein, a famous physicist and a colleague of Richard Feynman, asked him to explain a quantum mechanics theory that I can't remember the name of. Feynman replied that he was going to try and prepare a lecture on it. A few days later he came back and told Goodstein that he couldn't do it. He couldn't reduce the theory into a set of practical, simple ideas with which he could explain it. He then concluded that because he couldn't explain the theory, he really didn't understand it. But he pursued it anyway, practicing and perfecting his method, to the point that he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Feynman became an expert in quantum mechanics by trying to teach it."

He paused for a second, grinning, and stared back at me with those kind eyes.

"The night before I called you into my office the first time, I didn't sleep trying to figure out how to counter your Note's argument. I need the practice as much as you need to get better at arguing. I think it's a good win-win scenario, don't you think?"

I grinned back. "Agreed, sir."

"Good. Then, I need you to read up on a court case: Banes vs US Steel. I'll give you a week to familiarize yourself with it."

"Yes, sir."

A week flew by, and the following three nights were filled by sessions of extensive debating, each longer than the last. I attacked him from all sides I could think of, and each was easily blocked by a simple retort. This was followed by helpful advice, followed by some more reading from my part while he wrote some decision papers, followed by my next attack. We rinsed and repeated this for five years. Five years of glorious discussion, followed by smiles of disagreement.

To be clear, I never was able to break apart his defense in anything. And one would think that would have changed my political stance, but the complete opposite occurred: my conservativeness grew, my arguments were made more robust, and I became a better public servant because of it.

After my time as a clerk, I got a job with the Solicitor General of the Republican National Committee. A short while ago, however, the Solicitor General publicly argued against the Supreme Court decision to uphold regulations that limit soft money to political campaigns. That decision was written by Justice Ashland. It might have been my love for him, or that the arguments of the Solicitor General were so weak, but I found myself writing a memo to him arguing in favor of the decision. That's right. I, a Republican that was working in the National Committee, argued against soft money. It's like a Democrat arguing against abortion in a feminist rally. It was no surprise that I swiftly got fired from that job.

Then, I received an email from Justice Ashland asking me to come and visit. When I arrived I saw a copy of my memo in his desk. "Nice prose, Mr. Quincy."

By now, Justice Ashland knew how to put a slight grin on my face, "Thank you, sir."

"I may be old, but I can argue my own points, Mr. Quincy. You shouldn't have gone in a suicide run because of me."

"With all due respect, you're implying my memo was redundant, which I don't believe it is."

Bringing up my memo to his eyes, which are starting to familiarly fire up. "Let's see. You wrote, ‘Money can titter a balanced act, and its effect is quantifiable.' It's quite similar to what I stated ‘In policy, money is influence, and as such should be limited.' Would you agree on their similarity?"

"Half agree, sir." He stared at me with those prying eyes that I have already gotten accustomed to. I continued, "You stated that soft money should be limited because of its influence, but you did not established how they were connected. The Solicitor General argued that, because its influence isn't quantifiable, it shouldn't be limited. However, I showed that it is in fact quantifiable, and proposed a very reasonable method with which it could be limited. Meaning, my memo was not redundant. I argued my point further than yours, Mr. Justice."

He smiled, bittersweetly. "Yes. Yes you did, Mr. Quincy."

He sat down in his desk chair, looking a bit tired. "Since you seem keen on working for the Republican party after you left here, I never gave you a letter of recommendation because I thought it would hinder your job search instead of helping it."

"I understand, sir."

"However, me not giving you one does not imply I never wrote it."

He reached for a piece of paper in a drawer from his desk and handed it to me.

"Thank you for the gesture, sir."

"It's not a gesture, Mr. Quincy. Since your political party may not be receptive to you now, may I suggest working in the White House? They need the help."

"This White House? With a Democratic President? Do you think they would actually hire a Republican?"

"Mr. Quincy, I think you know my opinion on their incompetence and their tip-toeing around the lion's den of Congress. But, at the end of the day, they will hire a person that still just wants to serve. We're a rare breed; they'll see through the partisanship."

I nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Justice."

"No, Joe, thank you."


I tell the guard at the west entrance my name.

"Mr. Lyman will see you in the Roosevelt room, Mr. Quincy."

"Where is that?"

Suddenly, a blonde staffer approaches me, "Hi, I'm Donna. I'll lead you there."

"Thank you."

While walking, "So you're here for the Associate Counsel job?"

"Yes. Anything you can tell me about Mr. Lyman that could help me out?"

She looks at me, slightly squinting, as if she was pondering what she could say that wouldn't get her into trouble. "Josh gets cranky around this hour on a Friday. He has a card game with senior staff and he's not good at bluffing."

I never could tell if somebody was flirting with me. And I never know how to be witty when they do. "So, no talking about money. Got it."

"Well, unless you're negotiating salary, I guess."

"Or soft money in politics."

"Oh, yeah. He's against that, by the way. Actually, we all kinda are, you know."

She pauses. "You're not Joseph Quincy from the Solicitor General's office, are you?"

"Should I be worried?" already knowing the answer.

"Uhmm, well, I hope you've practiced arguing with a hardcore liberal like Josh."

I grinned. "Yeah," I thought. "The best kind of practice."

Tribes and Bridges

I don’t have many triggers, and I’m rarely offended. Scratch that: I have many triggers and I’m constantly offended. But, I have realized that these triggers all come from the same type of offense: tribal mentality.

The "me vs them" philosophy where every group is on an island and because they are not with us, they are against us. It exasperates me to no end when a black-or-white way of thinking forces people into rounding up or down their own ideology to whatever fits into their overly simplistic, divisive nature.

A prime example, and the reason I’m writing this now, is the US election. Now that it is over, a half of their population is befuddled while the other is celebrating.

I’ll try to make sense of both sides, and to do this I’d like you to meet David Wong. He, among other things, is the executive editor for Cracked. I normally don’t care much for the website outside of its humor, but two of his pieces really caught my eye. Especially since he presents the case for both sides, beautifully. He’s definitely in my "favorite authors” list just for this.

So let’s begin. I’ll start with the left’s side: socially liberal, economy federally-controlling,, progressive, etc. As of this writing, the left is bordering on depression, thinking “I thought we were better than this.” Its main problem towards Trump is he’s bigoted, racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, etc.

David has made their case quite clearly of why racism and discrimination in general is still a thing, even having elected a black president and legalizing same-sex marriage. Yes, a white heterosexual male may not have ever discriminated against a black person, may never have diminished the opinion of a female or treated her as anything else than a human being, and may have never thought less or treated badly anybody based on their sexuality. Why is he still labeled as being privileged?

Because, as David points out, we can’t consider ourselves as just a group of individuals living in the present. We are a community that interacts with one another, and the reason that I’m here, writing this, in the present, is because of all the persons that have come before me. Yes, I don’t own a slave. Yes, I treat my wife with the utmost respect and with the love she deserves. Yes, I don’t discriminate. That doesn’t mean that I’m not reaping the rewards of the hideous things my ancestors have done to get me where I am right now.

If I walk down the street at night, I do feel fear of what could happen to me. But that’s nothing in comparison to what a woman feels in those circumstances. My fear is based on being mugged. Her fear is based on being raped. Big. Fucking. Difference.

The reason why I have the wonderful job that I have right now is, in great part, for the hard work that I’ve done over the years. Work that was of better quality than others and, thus, I could say that I earned this job through my own merits. But, another great part of the reason I got it is because I was fortunate enough to have parents that supported me financially to get the education I needed to let my hard work flourish. And my parents were fortunate enough to have parents that sacrificed themselves to provide a better life than they had. I stand in the shoulder of giants; I’m part of the history that is currently unfolding. To believe that I’ve done everything on my own and that I owe nothing to anybody, is being oblivious to reality. To this effect, to think that I’m not privileged over somebody because I have it the same as them because of equality of opportunity is the same as thinking that I was born out of nothing. There’s precedence; none of us have it the same.

However, there has been a misunderstanding when this point comes up: “being blamed for something” is very different as “being responsible to fix it”. Yes, I did not provoke the dreadful economic circumstances, as well as the social conflicts, that resulted in the social-economic differences between ethnicities and genders. Yes, I cannot be blamed for the sins of my forefathers. But, we are a group, and we are ALL responsible to fix this, including me. And since I am in a position of privilege, like it or not, I have more power to do something about it.

So, yeah, racism, sexism, homophobia, and their respective discrimination are still there. They may be there at a much lesser degree than centuries ago, than decades ago, but they are still there, and something must be done about it: if you know somebody doesn’t like an specific word, avoid it in their presence, but also talk about why is that word offensive; if you know women don’t feel safe in an environment, get in there and see what you can do to make it feel safer; if you see a person being left out of a group gathering, go talk to that person. Things like these may produce better circumstances for the person that are going to stand in our shoulders.

[Take a breath.]

Ok... time for the right’s side: social and fiscal conservative, market-dependent economy, etc. Right now they’re celebrating, but how? What is it that turned them on to that creep?

David made their case in another piece. Lets get something out of the way first: I am in no way condoning the words and feelings that Trump has stated; and in no way am I saying that people that agree with him in those terms do not exist. They do, unfortunately, and it’s sickening. The reports these past few days of the repulsive things carried out by that fraction of the population that has now decided to come out of their racist, xenophobic closet have been nothing short of horrifying.

However, it is arguably similar to how to some members of the black community reacted towards white folks when Obama was elected: “Now you sit in the back of the bus”, “Guess what cracker? I can kill you and nobody can stop me”, etc. The defense back then is the same as now: yes, these people do exist and they do this because of they live in their own fucked-up version of the world, but this was not the reason why the majority voted for him. In fact, many of the defenses I’ve heard from Trump supporters have been mostly in disagreement of his offenses, but that they’re willing to overlook them in the face of what he symbolizes for them: an outsider.

In this moment I want to remind you of what I mentioned in the left’s side of the argument: it is up to ALL of us to fix this. What is there to fix in this mostly white mentality? That, right there: being white is normally considered being privileged, however, in all of my leftist argument I never mentioned that I was privileged for being white. I’m Mexican, I’m brown as fuck. But I’m privileged in relation to others in my country. The mentality that just because somebody is white they can be automatically labeled as privileged, is just as ignorant as not acknowledging one’s own privilege.

Privilege is a complex thing. Yes, race has a lot to do with it (specially in the USA), but it also depends on where you live, who your parents were and how they were economically, access to healthcare and education, social stigmas, etc. Rounding it down to just “being white” is by definition being racist.

Many of the persons that voted for Trump live in small rural towns that are normally ignored by left-leaning governments. And when I say “ignored”, I mean given the economical middle finger... repeatedly. Manufacturing jobs are the soul of their economy, which are shipped internationally without hesitation by progressives. And, worse yet, these jobs are of companies controlled by corporations which, in turn, lobby the hell out of the government. When this is done time and time again, from both sides of the aisle, it presents a picture of the established government as not caring about them at all.

But here comes Trump, a person that presumes to not have those ties. “He doesn’t have any political experience” is a selling point. “Y’all can go fuck yourselves and shove your political correctness up your ass” is a battle cry. He gave them the opportunity for them to point out to the left their own hypocrisy: a group of people that has been tortured by censorship is now censoring people. When the left has this list of words we can’t say, I can’t help feel reminded of George Carlin's “10 words you can’t say on the radio” bit which ridiculed the right for doing exactly the same thing.

However, saying things out of comic relief, and actually meaning them is two very different things. To this effect, I turn to what David Wong wrote, since I can’t put it better myself:

"But Trump is objectively a piece of shit!" you say. "He insults people, he objectifies women, and cheats whenever possible! And he's not an everyman; he's a smarmy, arrogant billionaire!” Wait, are you talking about Donald Trump or Tony Stark?"

David goes on with the analogy with Dr. House and Walter White. Yes, they’re fictitious, but his point is still correct. An asshole is less of an asshole if he’s on my side… if he’s on my tribe. Hell, bring in the real-life left-leaning millionaire talk show hosts that are really offensive to the right (bashing on religion, fat-shaming conservative politicians, calling Sarah Palin a bitch, etc.), but the left doesn’t care: they are hitmen doing wet work for their side. A clear example that comes to mind is Bill Maher: he reeks of islamophobia but he still has a job (even after his 9/11 debacle) because his followers choose to ignore that about him. Or, as Wong remind me, David Letterman’s sex scandals: I love the guy and I had completely forgotten about them. Why? Because I agree with him politically. In fact, I remember pretty clearly the left rolling their eyes every time “Lewinsky” was uttered during the Clinton years. I rolled my eyes with them because in that moment I mostly cared that he was taking the US in what I thought was the right path for both the US and Mexico (big selling point for me).

So that is what Trump is for these rural white Americans: a savior in dire economic circumstances, packaged in an orange bigoted box with a sexist bow. But mainly, they have labelled him as their savior, because (to paraphrase David Wong) they believe: he doesn’t care about the rules, he is the one who will get shit done.

[I hope you’re all still with me.]

Blanket labelling all the persons that voted for Trump as racist and sexist is being as discriminatory and ignorant as a person that does not acknowledge their own privilege. The left has repeatedly asked the right to understand their plight, to walk a mile in their shoes, and understand the hurt and emotional turmoil history has brought upon them. Its time for the left to teach by example.

This is not a black-and-white world. Rounding up or down is too simplistic for a species that came out of the caves millennia ago. We have no need for tribes anymore. We are not our own enemy. To be tolerant of intolerance is the first step in getting rid of it because it forms the foundation of the bridges between our islands.

Be the better human being and reach out for understanding even if its difficult. Be a better human being. Be like David Wong… (hahaha, sorry, couldn’t help myself).

PS. Thanks to Cin Ceja for posting one of David Wong's articles on her feed. I hadn’t read him until now, and it was the seed for this entire post.

Sorrynotsorry

It’s been a while, I know. This type of absence is perfect evidence of the turmoil that has become my mind since last we spoke. But, frankly, I don’t want you to think I’m apologizing, I’m just acknowledging, and that’s a damn good first step.

I’m even struggling to write something right now, even though I do this all the time for work. And this struggle is unfortunate, since: first, it is rooted in me not wanting to fall in the typical, clich√© blog post about anxiety; and, second, I’m still caring about your opinion, a typical, clich√© collateral feeling of anxiety. Meaning that I’m still not there yet, and I’m beginning to feel that I never will.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post about me putting up a white flag and surrendering. This is not me giving up on getting better. On the contrary, this is me realizing something that I enjoy seeing somebody else realizing in literary fiction and have always thought of not needing to realize it myself: the concept of peace.

I’m not talking about the fantasy concept of peace that aims to have everything rosy and fine (ugh, how I loathe that word) between two enemies "just because". I’m talking about the realistic concept of peace in which both enemies approach each other and, even though they disagree with each other, have come to terms with the fact that they need each other to survive, so they might as well share the world in peace. They have come to realize that the destruction of one, is the destruction of both.

Anxiety, for me, is a monster that is lurking under my bed, whispering endless thoughts of self-disappointment, what-could-have-been’s, and what-can-happen’s. It’s despicable, disgusting, and tempting to destroy.

But... I can’t live without it. I couldn’t have lived without it. Those thoughts come with a sensational collateral plus: they make me better at what I do. The what-could-have-been’s are lessons to be learned; the what-can-happen’s are plans to be carried out and designed to avoid future what-could-have-been’s; and self-disappointment is a good incentive for avoiding them.

I want peace with it, the realistic one. I want to reach down under my bed and offer it cake, because we need each other to survive, so we might as well share it in the process. And I know this is a long haul; I’m not here stating that I’m okay. I’m here saying that I may never be and that I’m starting to be okay with that. That monster is me and it wants to be loved as much as I do. To want to destroy it is to want to destroy me. To avoid having those thoughts or feeling down when I do have them, is like I’m apologizing to myself for being me.

I’m not here to apologize to myself for what I am, I’m just acknowledging myself, and that’s a damn good first step.