We Still Haven't Figured It Out

We're really not that smart. We have so much potential, but we're also easily manipulated. A common cliché is that we can't see the forest because there are too many trees in the way. It's downright depressing to think about, but I can't help feeling this way, and I'm presented with little evidence to the contrary.

There was a famous phrase coined in 1992, “Can we all get along?” and of course, it was changed a bit before it made the rounds on comedy shows, and in movies. Eventually, it became a joke in the public lexicon; nothing more than a pop culture reference. However, the validity of this statement has never seemed more true. Honestly, why CAN'T we all just get along? Why do we seem compelled to argue over every little thing, and can somehow never seem to see eye to eye?

Think about the last time you went to a restaurant. How did everyone act towards the staff? Perhaps you have a relative that likes to complain about their food in order to get a discount, regardless of whether or not the service, or food, was bad. Sure, everyone likes to save a dollar, but why would you purposely be difficult just to do so? That's dishonest, unjustly vindictive, and just plain wrong.

Now, I want you to think about your boss. Do they have a person on the payroll that seems to be their “favorite”? Do they listen when you have legitimate complaints? Do you ever wonder why such a small amount of power goes to someone's head? I do, and frankly, it pisses me off to no end. As much as I like to think that I'm inching towards enlightenment, deep down I'm still just as angry as I was when I was sixteen. I caught grief from everyone I knew, all day, every day; perhaps you can relate.

Some of you may think that surely I must have done something to receive flack from others, but I assure you, I've always kept to myself. Any time I started speaking up, maybe acting like I was something I wasn't, the universe (or something) would slap me right in the face, and tell me to shut up. Some call it “karma”, but in my family it is known as “The (insert last name here) Rule”. It is remarkably similar to “Murphy's Law”, but a little more ironic.

For those of you that have never met me, I'm fat, and always have been. Even as a small child, I was a fat kid, but I was a happy fat kid. That is until I started being around other kids, and learned that a lot of people hate fat people. Truthfully, the word “hate” is used by some people in this regard, and this is just for being a different size! Some people apparently think that humanity has to be rolled out on a conveyor belt for their approval upon entering the world.

Some people think that being bigger than others should have given me the strength to shrug off this negativity. In their eyes, I could have physically beat down my critics when it felt necessary, but I was never one to do such things. It never felt right; it may have been justified, but it never felt just. Even when a kid pulled a gun out on me in seventh grade, I never kicked his ass when he put it away. I did at least have the courage to yell at him to “get out of my face”, and he did, but honestly, I probably should have curb-stomped that little bastard.

That short story sounds way more dramatic than it actually was, the whole ordeal lasted maybe 20 seconds; it's nothing compared to what some people deal with on a daily basis. I've never been pulled over for driving in “the wrong neighborhood”, never been followed through a store, and never got turned down for a job based on my skin color. Sure, I've been denied job applications because I wasn't recognized as the type of person who would live in a gated community, but they never even considered calling the police or having security escort me off the premises.

So again I ask, why can't we just get along? It's truly perplexing, and I'd love to know the answer. I'm a musician, and (what passes as) a journalist, so I meet lots of different people, and sometimes friendships develop. I'd love to be able to have any one of my friends stop by for a visit without our old, rich landlords riding by, checking everyone out. “Yes, I am sitting in my backyard with friends, some of which are a different hue than I, there is nothing to see here.” Thankfully, nothing has ever escalated beyond a quick drive through our yard, but it still feels dirty.

We, as humans, argue over the most asinine, petty nonsense. We look down on others who work service jobs, or look a little different. Some of us even refuse to acknowledge that there are people out there who have disparaging views towards people who are different than them. It's madness; pure, simple, and at times, utterly terrifying.

I worry that one day I'll see a headline featuring a friend who was killed by someone who is legally allowed to do so without consequence. I worry I'll look out my window one day, and see a young man lying dead in the street, with the smoking gun bathed in blue light. I've seen the hurt in the eyes of gay friends who heard a “joke” about their sexuality. What's perhaps even worse, I've seen their lack of shock upon hearing these things. I have friends who are talked down to by supervisors, and denied fair treatment because they just aren't valued as human beings, and it's just wrong. Honestly, I want to know why we can't just get along with one another.

Yes, we've made great achievements in science. We have amazing technology that was once just the stuff of science-fiction novels. We know more about space, and the beginnings of our existence as creatures on this planet than we ever have before, but here we are, seemingly unable to get past skin color, and sexuality. Sometimes I wonder if there are humanoid beings on a different planet, millions of light-years away, who study us as a reminder of what not to do.

“All this potential, squandered, because they can't get past their trivial differences.” the teacher says, her coal-black eyes appear to shine in the light of several suns. A student speaks up, “Will the Earthlings ever realize that they are all made of the exact same materials, and mostly desire the same things? Things like peace, and happiness for themselves, and their loved ones?” The teacher pauses, staring out the window onto a vast landscape of rich soil, and abundant crops. “We may never know, we had to stop directly observing them for fear that they would discover us. You know how they treat their own kind, imagine what they would have done to us.”