Everything has taken on the illusion of high stakes lately. It really was high stakes when the Patriot Act got passed – 2001-2005 was a motherfucking mess, a youth and 90s-optimism destroying disaster that shoved my ass into adulthood. The butthurt pangs echo still. Right after 9/11 ((yes, I invoked 9/11 … as a historical reference. One that I lived through, even, while surrounded quite literally but the immediately Most Unpopular People in America at that time.)) there was a need for as much of the country as possible to be on one page as possible. Of course, we were never before in history less on one page and thanks to the conscious divisive propaganda of a certain major political party that has lost touch with its own values, most of the country isn’t even on the same Webpage anymore, let alone working from the same rulebook for which that metaphor was intended.
In my late teens and early twenties I had been outspoken on the page and in person – although an introverted sort of outspoken. Even now I actually have to have a level of trust to engage in small talk. Along with that outspoken tendency came another factor: know what matters. I grew silent on a lot of stuff I used to be noisy about because careless words really did get people I held dear dragged in for questioning and on one occasion almost detained.
I gag on mushrooms. I have friends who love them. This is not something that matters. I do not find the prose of JRR Tolkien readable; the Peter Jackson movies are even worse. This is not something that matters.
I am a recovered homophobe who believed even in the height of my homophobia that gays should be allowed to marry their partners. I was able to recognize that their differences didn’t harm me and denying them rights did not make any difference whatsoever to my safety. This is something that matters. I have a personal understanding of Islam that can only come from being surrounded by Muslims in America during 9/11. There are aspects that I cherish – they have instilled means of caring for the poor that the world could learn from – and ones that are troubling, like the reality that their embedded attitude towards women is just as inexcusable as the one assumed by the “official” Catholic Church ((In both cases there are people who buck the dictates of their faith and treat women with respect as an act of individual conscience or as an extension of their own expression of that faith)) .
A little discernment, please. If my taste or distaste troubles you, remember this: I was not put on this Earth to please you.
The stakes are only high in certain places. My heretical thoughts about the Great White Dudes of literature are not of grave cultural or personal importance.
Chill. No matter how I feel, ~the Dude abides ~.