First things first: I’m mad as hell, and swearing is my self-care. Consider yourself warned.
Honestly, I don’t know what to do with all my rage lately. Between the Covid deniers who’d rather take literal horse medicine than a safe, effective vaccine, the anti-maskers who are protesting outside of children’s schools (schools, FFS), the fires raging in California, the utterly horrific situation in Afghanistan… well, I kinda wanna just pack my bags, buy a tiny house in the wilderness somewhere and go off-grid.
I don’t want to feel this way. I’m a glass-half-full kind of person. I see the good in people. I truly believe that most people are mostly good most of the time. Well, I used to anyway. Now I’m not so sure.
Last year I decided to go KonMari on my life and the people in it. Not since 2016 had I been so shook by so many people. Acquaintances and casual friends who I had thought were reasonable people turned out to be anti-maskers who whined on Facebook about how they couldn’t visit their vacation home due to coronavirus lockdowns. People I had thought were kind and compassionate started spewing super-racist things while crying that they “don’t have a racist bone in their body.” Folks who were generally regarded as “nice people” turned out to be closet Trump supporters. It was shocking and devastating and I’m not being dramatic when I say that it shook my faith in humanity to the core. Perhaps I was naïve and shouldn’t have been surprised, but I shocked and disappointed nonetheless.
I didn’t think I could be more shook or more disappointed than I was at the height of the pandemic last year, but here we are. And if I wanted to go KonMari last year, well, these days I’m ready to go full-on scorched earth.
The anti-maskers haven’t gone anywhere, they’ve just gotten louder. And now instead of screaming on Facebook IN ALL CAPS, they’re screaming at school board meetings and outside school buildings. Those closet Trump supporters became anti-vaxxers overnight despite the mountains of data that show the vaccine is safe and effective. Just a few months ago, we were nearing the finish line of the pandemic but now it feels like we’re back to square one.
Those of us who did our part, who stayed home and social distanced and have been wearing our masks and got vaccinated, are angry as fuck. We’re sick of paying the price for the selfish and ignorant actions of others. We’re tired of having the same head-exploding arguments about bullshit with dudes who barely passed high school chemistry class but now seem to have an advanced degree in biopharmaceuticals and public health. We’re tired of trying to convince other people to care.
I’m a highly sensitive, empathetic person. But I’ll be honest, my capacity for empathy ran out weeks ago. I’m digging deep for compassion, but sometimes the best I can come up with is pity.
Like I said, I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to feel such desperate rage. I don’t want to mutter that clichéd response of “people suck.” I want to believe that people care about each other.
The thing is, when people show their true colors, it also makes it easy to find the ones who truly “bring you joy.” Over the past few years, casual friendships have turned into close friendships over shared concerns and priorities. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Facebook friends who are using social media to shut down fake news and share science-backed information on the importance of vaccines and masks. I’ve connected with people on deep and meaningful ways when I’ve said “I’m struggling” and they said, “Yeah, me too.”
So now it’s time to kick KonMari approach to life up a notch. Scorched earth, I’m telling you. Tear it down so you can build it back up.
It isn’t just people that are disappointing; it’s our entire system and way of life. Climate change is wreaking havoc of Biblical proportions. Our education system is collapsing under on the weight of white supremacy and toxic capitalism. Our health care system and the people trying to protect us are being ignored. And we can no longer rely on the things like “justice” to save us from tyranny. So yeah, my default these days is fuck everyone and everything. Scorched earth.
I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to feel a constant disappointment in everyone, including myself. And no, even though I might fantasize about it sometimes, I don’t actually want to move to that tiny house in the wilderness and become a recluse. It doesn’t mean everyone has got to go; I don’t really hate everyone. It certainly doesn’t mean that I want to dig into an echo chamber of people who think exactly like me.
What it does mean is that I want to fill my life with people who truly bring me joy, who actually care about their fellow humans. I want to create systems and a way of life that actually meets the needs of most people instead of just a select few. I want to surround myself with people who uplift and sustain me. People who inspire and motivate me to be a better person. People who understand that there is room for disagreement of opinions, but only if there is agreement in values.
Everything else isn’t just a distraction, but a leech sucking out my energy, my time, and my spirit. And these are wild times, my friends; I need all the emotional reserves I can get.
Fortunately, when you cut out the energy leeches out, the easier it is to see that the “bring you joy” people outnumber the others. The past year (hell, the past five years) has been a brutal punch in the gut. But I refuse to believe that humans are garbage. I refuse to believe that all is lost. The goodness is still there; we just have to find it. And to do that sometimes you need to burn a few things to the fucking ground.