Have you ever looked at a Magic Eye image? At first all you see is this colorful burst of random dots. But if you stare at it long enough, an image emerges …. hidden in plain sight. One moment it’s dots and the next moment this figure pops out, clear as day.
These days I feel like everyone else is seeing the dots while I see the image.
I can’t stop seeing the image.
And it fills me with dread.
I believe in the United States. And I say that to mean that I believe in the concept of this country, in the fundamentals of freedom and democracy on which it was created. (Yes, I know that it’s a republic … let’s not split hairs here.)
In this country, all men (and women) are created equal. At least that’s what we’re supposed to try to aspire to: a country where no one person is more valuable, more important than others based on gender, income, race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else.
In this country, we’re not supposed to victimize anyone in the pursuit of the greater good. “Small price to pay” is not a sentence we’re supposed to be using when talking about traumatizing innocent bystanders.
In this country, we’re supposed to hold truth as sacrosanct and expect education to count for something. Truth should not be something that’s fluid and changes based on the person who’s telling it.
In this country, media are supposed to be unbiased and objective. We should be able to trust that what we’re being told is fact and not a carefully crafted piece of fiction. And we should be able to trust that the news isn’t being influenced by the beliefs and priorities of journalists, news directors or media owners.
In this country, we have freedom of speech. And that applies to the people who agree with you as well as those whose beliefs are in opposition to yours. It also applies to those whose beliefs are so fundamentally opposite to yours that … well, you get the idea. But it doesn’t mean that you are allowed to incite violence. It doesn’t mean that you get to use your influence and power to bully those in opposition to you. It doesn’t mean that you get to go in front of a large audience and imply that violence would be a good solution to whatever ails you today.
In this country people are innocent until proven guilty. The assumption of guilt isn’t enough. The assumption that someone will do something at some point isn’t supposed to mean that they get thrown in jail, out of the country … or otherwise removed. There’s supposed to be trials, with due process and laws that are followed, laws that apply to everyone.
I hate that I can’t use the words “Make America Great.” I hate that it’s become this code for racism, xenophobia, and extremism.
I hate that I’m having arguments with people I love. I hate that I can see so clearly why they’re wrong and understand that they don’t get why I can’t or won’t agree with them.
I hate that suddenly political and education decisions are based on religion.
I hate that fear is a constant, growing feeling that’s a daily presence in my life.
Because you’re still seeing the dots, saying “look, how pretty!” and I’m staring in horror at the image they hide.