Chances are, I don’t know much about you. I don’t know what you’ve experienced, how you’ve hurt or what brings you great joy. Maybe on January 20th, you were overcome with joy while attending or watching the inauguration of our 45th President. Or, quite possibly, you were disheartened, disgusted or bothered.
Nah. This isn’t a blog post about how he’s #notyourpresident (or how he is). This isn’t about the Women’s March on Saturday and how it set a record for being the largest organized, peaceful protest in American history. I’m not going to predict what the next four (or eight) years will bring Americans or talk about Obama’s legacy. I want you to read this post with both an open mind and heart. Maybe I have an answer. You might walk away feeling enlightened. You might close the window halfway because you were triggered and you need a safe space. But here we go. Are you ready?
Trump is President of one of the most powerful countries in the world. I could list why he could potentially be a great President. I could also list the reasons why he’s in some ways, severely unqualified and not quite the right fit for the Oval Office.
One of the things I learned very quickly in the last five years was a little truth about acceptance. I can fight and deny reality all I want. I can turn my back and whisper ignorance is bliss and carry on my merry way. I can also choose to accept the present situation and move forward. I can choose to accept the world as it is. From there, I decide what I plan to do moving forward. If I make a mistake, I reflect on how I can prevent myself from repeating the error. If it was something out of my control, I focus on how I can better handle that situation if it repeats itself.
One thing many people have yet to do is accept that Donald Trump is President of the United States. Get over it. Move forward. Vote with your heart in two and four years. Be active. Do something about it besides spamming nasty comments on social media and whining about how unfair everything is. Life is unfair. Politics are more unfair. I would know.
But hold on! Let’s rewind a little bit while you dwell on the previous two paragraphs. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I’ve ended up in a situation where I think “wtf, how did this happen?” The situation is just so absurd that it seems unreal. That’s what this Presidential cycle felt like. At first, it was outrageous that he won the GOP Primary. It was unbelievable. Jeb Bush dropped. Marco Rubio bowed out. All of these individuals whom the entire world thought were better qualified than Donald faded. Leading up to the general election, the media and DNC thought Clinton had it in the bag. They focused purely on Trump’s negatives and lifted up Hillary. They ignored all of her failings and flaws, while propping up Trump’s 24/7 for the country to see. No one was worried. Hillary’s campaign was already popping champagne in the morning on November 8th.
I didn’t do any work on the other side of the aisle; I’m not sure what kind of activity was taking place for the Bernie and Clinton campaigns leading up to the Democratic Primary. I know a majority of my left-leaning friends were huge Bernie supporters. I know almost any person I talked to despised Hillary Clinton, regardless of what party he or she swore allegiance to. Hillary Clinton won. There was heavy talk about a rigging of the polls, false numbers and the DNC supporting Hillary behind the scenes months before votes were cast. I didn’t pay too much attention (I was busy gearing up to win bigly in Illinois), and maybe some of you who did can provide some insight in the comment section. But from the moment Hillary and Trump accepted their nominations, no one thought a Trump presidency would be possible.
It seems that every four years, morals suddenly matter. Everyone decides to give a shit about right and wrong. Donald Trump talks about sexually harassing women, is ignorantly racist about Mexicans and throws hissy fits on Twitter (I don’t think a link is necessary). Don’t get me wrong, don’t you dare; I’m not condoning or justifying any of these things. I have but one question: where have you been? I’m seriously asking. Someone’s buying their albums.
Kanye West’s “New Slaves,”: “F*** you and your Hampton house / I’ll f*** your Hampton spouse / Came on her Hampton blouse / And in her Hampton mouth.”
Eminem’s “SHADY CXVPHER”: “But I may fight for gay rights, especially if they dyke is more of a knockout than Janay Rice / Play nice? / B*tch I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice, like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance / Til her head is banging on the railing, then celebrate with the Ravens.”
Chris Brown’s “Biggest Fan”: “When you scream I need / To pull your body closer / Let me sex you baby / Girl you better not change your mind / No is not an option… I’m ‘a take what’s mine.”
Rick Ross’s “She Don’t Even Know It”: “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / Took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
And student’s parents are upset about this Tweet bothering daughters or turning their sons into sexist pigs?
And even if that goes well beyond a personal Twitter, with which he only interacts with people he knows personally or individuals who are no longer students, and into the classroom, I’ve got to ask: are you kidding me? Students and parents alike are rallying as I type this to end his career but I don’t see any protests or ridicule directed towards Eminem, Rick Ross or Kanye West.
I get it. I get it. He’s a teacher. He’s supposed to prepare students for the real world and teach them to think critically. He’s supposed to be a role model. Parents: before you start trying to dictate what a teacher can tweet, police your kids’ music habits, what they view on the television and browse online.
PornHub.com had 221 page views per capita in the United States. Men spent at least ten minutes per visit on average (and I’m saying men generally, because of a majority of the trending search views), and the United States led the world in traffic (in fact American traffic on the site is similar to our military spending when compared to the rest of the world; almost more than the next eight countries combined). Based on nearly anything on TV, in song lyrics (including the lyrics listed earlier), and on the internet, I think it’s safe to say our country is addicted to sex. It’s not because they love someone and want to share in that experience with them, but because it feels good and it stimulates. YES, this paragraph is directed at other men (generally speaking). I’m not going to tell you how to live your lives or what’s right or wrong. I’m not going to place myself on a high horse and tell you that your viewing habits are immoral or even unhealthy. I’m a dude sitting behind a computer screen typing a blog post stating facts.
Statistics generally aren’t facts, in the sense that they’re assumptions based on varying samples, but they are solid indicators. Yes, I’m going to list some. 9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. 71% of teens hide their internet activity from their parents. And a more relevant statistic: 68% of young men and 18% of women view porn at least once a week.
Do you know what one of the biggest byproducts of an addiction to porn is? It causes viewers to objectify others. It desensitizes. It numbs. It has a lot of negative impact.
Many remained silent on the Trump videos released. Maybe there’s a correlation between online viewing habits and how much we give a damn when someone running for office talks the way he does. Maybe there’s a connection between the artists we support and who we allow to become President of the United States.
In reference back to the UTHS teacher who very well may lose his job over tweets and alleged sexist/bigoted comments in the classroom: who’s more to blame, now? Is it the music and things we put on our smartphones, TVs and computer screens every day or a Twitter handle no one follows and off-handed comments during lectures? You tell me.
Morals suddenly matter. Everyone randomly wakes up at the same time and objects to the things someone else does or tweets (he’s been Tweeting for years…). I’m digressing a lot and I think I went too far back. This does raise a very crucial question: how did America get to where it’s at? But, lettuce return to the original topic: Donald J. Trump.
Just kidding. Side story! In high school and even when I first attempted college, a safe space would have been a ludicrous idea. I like to think my fellow classmates weren’t as fragile, then. We could handle criticism, loads of homework and all of the stress. Maybe I didn’t notice it. Maybe I was immune to it. I was picked on and bullied in elementary school and junior high for missing an eye and being bad at sports. I cried. I dealt with it. I never ran to my parents. Maybe it was pride. Maybe I was tough. I don’t know. I know I just simply developed a strong defense against the negatives I experienced; I dealt with them and pushed on.
I was a nerd in high school. I wasn’t necessarily shy; I like to think I was relatively outgoing. But girls didn’t like me. Not the way I wanted them to. I got over that. I decided to just better myself. I lived in a garage for six months after a disagreement/fight with my parents at 17. I was legally homeless and still attended my senior year in high school. I graduated in the top ten percent of my class. I leased a car when I was twenty with my grandpa co-signing and I paid it off late last year finally. Despite working nearly every day and at times juggling two jobs, I still couldn’t afford the money, let alone the time, to go to college after graduating so I’m going now, working and tackling class full-time. I’m where I am because things got hard and I rallied, I grew and I pushed through.
My safe space was within me. I wrote out my feelings. I found solutions. I carried on. If I needed to be sheltered, I retreated to my music or a video game. I’m blessed with some of the greatest people who have lifted me up, carried me through and made me better. I’ve surrounded myself with people who positively affect me by choice, and I’ve cut out the ones who are toxic and who cause negativity. I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression and, yes, I’ll say it, even suicide. And I’m still here.
I’ve never needed a safe space. Nationwide, students needed one when Trump won the election. Was it that bad? Will young women need safe spaces if Kanye West or Chris Brown win a Grammy in February? Did you not expect this? Did you not see this coming?
The whole storm on Facebook and the online petition regarding the tweet posted by a UTHS teacher is a perfect answer. Whether you agree with him or not, whether we want to discuss free speech or not, he should have a right to express his opinions. Yes. Even. If. They. Offend. You.
Have some people become so fragile that things like that trigger them to run to a safe space, inhale numbing medication or call their mom and dads? Have they become so sensitive that the thoughts or words of an individual they neither care about nor interact with causes them to react so viciously and terribly?
My generation has become too easily triggered by the most ridiculous of things. We cherry-pick. We want everyone to agree with us. If you disagree, you better prepare for the overabundant mixture of social media shaming and nonstop harassment from our friends. If we take offense to something, there’s no walking away or moving on from it. We dwell and unleash hell until you suffer some sort of consequence.
“But it’s not about us being offended, it’s about it being sexist.” To me, it was a joke. It was satirical. Maybe to you it wasn’t and you found no humor in it. That’s fine. Let him be “sexist.” If the school board discovers evidence of this “sexism” in his classroom, he’ll face the consequences. End of story.
For almost every article or blog I read expressing someone’s thoughts or opinions, there’s someone in the comments spewing hate. It’s endless. And it doesn’t stop there. After the Women’s March on Saturday, people took to Twitter and struck out at TAYLOR SWIFT for only expressing support via a tweet for the march and not being there. YOU’RE ON THE SAME SIDE. To the best of my knowledge, Hillary Clinton also expressed her support but wasn’t there. Yet, in the media and after some brief browsing of Tweets, there doesn’t seem to see any outrage.
We’ve done it, guys. We’ve completely terrified so many Americans into concealing their thoughts and beliefs. We can no longer calmly discuss issues or sort out disagreements without personally attacking one another, taking things personally or people reacting overly negatively. The Presidential debates were flooded with personal attacks. Violence, toxicity and anger have become the answer.
Maybe, for just one second, could you try to imagine what Donald Trump represents? He is reckless on Twitter and in his speeches. He doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. In no way shape or form am I saying that it’s “presidential” or right. I’m just pointing out that he speaks his mind and how he feels.
Now, imagine what that means to the people you’ve shut down. Imagine what he represents to the folks who are too terrified to voice their thoughts. It’s not because they’re racist. It’s not because they hate women. It’s because whatever it is, whether it’s a view on minimum wage, the ACA or their thoughts on Hillary Clinton, they don’t want to be attacked. They don’t want to be ridiculed.
When you take a group of people and shove a candidate down their throats whom they don’t want and you call them ridiculous for wanting someone else and laugh at them, when you call a large group of people deplorables, the people won’t speak out, but you bet your ass they’ll vote (or not vote).
You want to know why you ended up with Trump and Hillary as your only two choices? Out of all the weeks of watching all the debates and heated arguments on Facebook and Twitter, about 20% of the people involved weren’t registered to vote within a three hour radius of where their location put them at. 60% of them didn’t participate in the the 2016 primaries. The lady who so eagerly shared the teacher’s tweet on Facebook to oust such a terrible person in the community isn’t even registered to vote in the entire northwestern quarter of Illinois.
Our priorities are screwed up, guys. We’d rather take the time to argue with a stranger on social media than cast a vote, and then complain about who gets inaugurated as President. We’re more eager to spew hate than to lift up those around around us. We complain about sexism, racism and all of these things yet we buy into it on the radio, on YouTube and on the television. We are outraged by sexual assault and raunchy tweets or “locker room talk” and we blast it into our heads via Apple earbuds and we thrive on sex.
And before you think “Oh, Abe, you sexist, racist asshole,” I’ll explain where I stand. I don’t oppose “feminism.” I oppose the hypocrisy of individuals within the movement shame other women, or hate white men (which is both racist and sexist). I don’t hate Black Lives Matter, but Chicago is 3 hours away and is the capital of black-on-black crime and it’s only getting worse and I don’t see anyone protesting that. I don’t oppose protests. I oppose non-peaceful riots and looting, damaging of private and public property and individuals running around with masks on to avoid getting caught from committing crimes.
Everything I’ve written about is connected, one way or another. Do you see it? It’s easy for me. Mr. Kaczmarek taught me how to think critically. Funny how it’s coming full circle. I’ve written a lot, and it’s jumbled up because this isn’t a research paper I have to turn in for a grade. I just wanted to air out so much and I could write for days.
Everyone wants to say that Trump is going to destroy America. They want to believe that Trump is inciting violence, hate and all of this anger. And don’t get me wrong, Trump’s America is full of hate. There’s plenty of bigotry and ignorance. But don’t give the man more credit than he deserves. He inherited this shit.
We are so divided and we were before Trump ever won the Republican primary. President Trump is not the end. The end begins the moment we solidify these walls between all of these groups and movements and refuse to unite and work together. Ron Paul attempted to run for President multiple times. During his last campaign, he had a logo that said REVOLUTION except the letters of “EVOL” were positioned backwards to create the word “love.” That is precisely what this country needs; not from the federal government or Mike Madigan, but from the people and among the people.
And you’re probably thinking, holy hell, you went from talking about Donald Trump, to offensive song lyrics, to statistics about pornography, to sexist tweets, to Hillary Clinton and then back to Trump and now you’re talking about love?!
Yeah. I’m crazy.
It’s all connected. You know how a man will begin to treat a woman equally? With love. And vice versa. You want to end racism? Learn to love and accept people who are different from you. You want to sort out a disagreement? Love the person you’re at odds with and discuss with kindness. And this is so off-the-wall and you’re going to judge me so hard for this, but do you want to put an end to objectifying other people’s bodies and sexuality and this numbness when it comes to those things? Do. It. With. Love.
This country needs a reboot. Not like, where we nuke everyone and start over brand new, but… well, a revolution of love. Your kids won’t turn out to be sexist pigs if you love them right. You won’t have to worry about what a teacher tweets or says if you do that. If we stop spewing hate at each other maybe we can have open conversations about policies and actually reach solutions for a lot of the problems plaguing society and this world. I never needed a safe space because I was surrounded by love whenever I found myself struggling.
It’s cheesy. It might seem lame. But that’s what this nation needs right now; not a protest that sets records or a petition to fire a teacher. We don’t need rioting or more violence. I’m not trying to shove some Christian doctrine down your throat when I say this, but do everything in love and you’ll do just fine.
And yes there are some people who just feed off hate and they’re internet trolls and they just want division. Maybe Trump is one of those people. It shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t. There are other things that matter more that are actually positive. Put your attention there, not on a man you’ll never meet. His policies may affect you. You can protest, yes, and maybe it’ll tilt some leaders in another direction. But you can always vote.
My friend tweeted back in June, “You can’t fight Trump. Pretend he doesn’t exist or lose.” Don’t get me wrong (again), there are some things you simply can’t change or fix. Some people are so set in their ways. Some people are just awful. But love them anyway. Accept it, deal with it and move forward.
Chances are, I don’t know you. I don’t know where you’ve been, what you’ve experienced but I hope that you read all of this. I hope that you read this and you did one simple thing: you understood. You know a little bit about me, now. You know a little bit more about my views and stances. You don’t have to 100% agree. You can disagree with all of this. But we can leave it at that. As always, your opinions and feedback mean something, so feel free to utilize my cheap comment section below. Interact with others, if anyone else has already commented, and just discuss in a civil way. We can come together. We can unite. But it starts with each of us choosing to do as such.
It starts with you. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Or something like that.
Featured photo credit: The Slate