It is the kind of late summer night that feels overly ripe for confessions.
It is the kind of night that lingers and churns, as the bitter words balk and hesitate on the tip of a dry tongue. Words that yearn to be screamed out from the very rooftop of a small blue house cornered nakedly in the broken heart of a City of Wayne. Words aching for the altruistic freedoms promised by honest artistic exclamation. Words that instead inexplicably cling tenaciously to the last gasp of decent decorum and the inherently flawed rules of a supposedly polite society that was anything but polite to me, in all the years spent in this shitty little flyover town so full of fucked up perspectives and priorities and people.
But, fuck those rules.
And fuck this city.
It was never anything but an illusion of lies, so carefully crafted and intentionally designed to keep its weary citizens grinding away pointlessly at the often espoused forge of self-determination and definition.
The bellows of that forge blew only long enough to skew the tantalizing finish line, constantly moving the mark and failing to stoke the fire of personal accomplishments originally promised. The boot straps, they frayed and catastrophically snapped under the stress of too many desperate pulls. The oft-promised American dream evaporated mutely in the heated spotlight of a waking terror of endless greed and corruption, running unchecked and unfiltered as one generation molested the next, just for the chance at that next quick buck or musty whiff of fleeting social security.
For far too long Lady Liberty has been bent over the altar of blatant consumption and she has been violently fingered and fisted for the delight and perversions of corporations running unchecked and unsupervised. And we, the people, became the cuckolded witnesses to that invasion, knuckles deep, watching mutely in the suburban corner while stroking the exhausted and limp appendage of a shriveling middle class, desperately hoping for our turn in line, just to get just a taste.
It used to be so very different; it used to be so fucking simple. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
But now, generations down the line from the fathers that founded, those seven words have become a skewed and aborted version of that original Declaration.
Now, within the polluted and toxic landscape of a crumbling Republic, the context has been tragically altered into a bastardized version of our American birthright.
There is still the promise of life- just as long you are the “right” color or pedigree. Or comply meekly enough when guns are pointed at your head as unbadged uniforms throw you into the back of an unmarked vehicle for arrest and interrogation. Liberty- just as long as you can afford to break the rules and have within your sphere of influence enough purchased political power to offer undeserved immunity. Happiness- just as long as it fits neatly into the narrowly drawn parameters of the pre-planned politics of yet another gerrymandered district.
And it is not supposed to be that way.
We are a nation of many cultures and colors, each so beautifully vibrant and expressive in their own unique ways. We are a diverse spectrum of individuality and histories, combining together into that cliché melting pot never before seen on the world stage.
But sometimes, especially now, that diversity is hard to see through the smoke of our cities burning. Or the tear gas masking our better judgements. Sometimes, the exhaustion simply sets in as we are forced to digest yet another political scandal within the 24 hour feeding frenzy cycle of headlines and we are left paralyzed in our immobility.
We are drowning in our hubris. We are sacrificing our rights and privacy for the sake of that next seductive online click. We are waiting impatiently for the bread and games to trickle on down as we sit stubbornly upon our entrenched senses of unearned entitlements.
For the first time in my life, despite all the injustices previously endured, and all the horrible events I have been forced to witness, tonight it feels fundamentally different. Because tonight, I am actually embarrassed to call myself an American.
Of all the confessions that I could make on this cool evening, late into yet another Indiana summer fading fast, that one hurts me the most.
And I’m terrified of what the coming winter will bring…