The American Dream – from this end of election day

american dream election day

November 7, 2016 •NON-FICTION •Author:

Election day is approaching!

The other day, I was waiting for a bus when a man stood next to me and lit a cigarette. We were both standing under a large, glaring sign that asked people not to smoke in the area. I felt helpless that there was very little I could do – it was no accident, but his choice to ignore the sign.

The man’s utter disrespect for the sign, for the space and people around him first appalled me, then made me furious, and then made me sit down and think about human nature.

Later that night, I thought some more about the man and how someone could become so blatantly disrespectful. About people – who thrive at the expense of others – who seem to have no concept of respect.

Now I think – we’ve been through a year of watching a grown man, insulting and disrespecting everyone in his way in this election, go all the way to potentially becoming the President of the United States tomorrow if he wins the election.

Society – it turns out – is just a cluster of humankind.

And this cluster, at its core, seems to be a mix of good and bad, everywhere. No matter where you live, you find a bully “uncle” – a “distant relative” who is misogynistic, sexist and insults you with every word he speaks but still drinks tea at your house, because he can. No one wants him to, no one likes him. Yet he continues to exist at your (tea’s) expense. You also find a friendly neighbor living next door. She’s doing her thing, so much her thing that she looks shady by default. Maybe you want to look up to her, but you’re cautioned at every instant not to trust her “because who knows where she’s been and what she’s done.”

I am a non-citizen who is living, breathing and building a life in the United States. Living as a temporary resident, and not being able to vote during this election, however, does not immune me from feeling. I think about all that has been said, and silently react to all that I see. I feel outraged, shock, disgust. I feel the ripples of decisions about to be made. I feel the uncertainty of a future that is mine as much as it is anyone else’s in this country right now.

As someone from a country that lost its peace to political corruption, I tell you from experience – once ignorance becomes powerful, there is no going back. It stays in power and eats away at progress. Finds more of its kind, and before you know – you’ll be regressing at the speed of light. Ignorant leadership will be so oblivious to your existence, you’ll want to crawl out of your own skin and walk away in retaliation.

It feels like I’ve just lived through an apocalyptic movie that unfolded at a disgustingly slow pace. Unlike fellow immigrants who’ve voted and hopefully made a difference, I’ve made zero contribution to the decision about to be made. Yet, I stand at the receiving end of whatever storm is about to come through.

I might come across as someone who’s ready for the worst. I can’t help it. Because life isn’t a movie, and no happy endings are promised, the destructive forces of ignorance often win, to everyone’s disbelief.

What will America (and the world) wake up to?

 

When in doubt, be orange

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