american exceptionalism

I feel as though most my of strongest feelings and nuanced beliefs come from podcasts, and while I recognize the danger in forming one’s beliefs from a single source, I’d like to think that my enjoyment of podcasts isn’t any different than the enjoyment someone might receive from gathering news from a few different magazines. Anyway, today I was listening to this episode of Criminal and was deeply disturbed by the realizations it inspired about being born & the state of humanity.

To begin, to be born, to slip out of your mother’s womb with your future (and quite related past and present; our identities are formed far before we’re born) determined solely by the place on which she rests her feet, her legs spread apart on a table or in a bath or on the ground. The material is unimportant in the context of the larger fiction; what really matters are artificial borders deemed important by those who seek to find community in the mutual exclusion of the monolithic other.

American exceptionalism is perhaps not all that different from the form of birthright privilege that exists in other places, however that so many fail to recognize that the US is no more their home than a Syrian refugee or a Salvadorian escapee is (based on my limited understanding of the history of the world) unique to a place that’s a speck on the map of history. Most of us hold no tribal ancestry here, yet we base the life-or-death decisions we make for others on boundaries created by our (white Americans) oppression of others since the inception of our ‘more perfect society’. Perhaps it’s a deep-rooted sense of insecurity and the unconscious knowledge that we never belonged here. Well, maybe not that we didn’t belong here, but that our here was someone else’s here first.

And so many say that the God in which they believe would condone the separation of the coveted family, a ball of hypocrisy rolled around in butter, dripping from the mouths of children mimicking the way their fascist parents call other human beings ‘aliens’.  If that God is the God of all humanity, I hate to break it to you but I highly doubt they value your life as someone who just so happened to have come into the world in a cloudy midwestern town more than the life of someone fleeing a much more imminent death than you.

When I go to bed tonight I won’t fear for the loss of my life to the dirty hands of war or state, but I also won’t fear for the loss of my life in the material sense to the dirty hands of men who say things like ‘it’s nothing personal’ as they tear me away from my crying father to send me to a prison and line the pockets of the wealthy with the tax money I wanted to pay.

What gives us the right? What allows us to stand in these shaky towers?