A few years back I had an idea for a story. I should leave it right there, because that in itself is newsworthy. I tend to be seriously plot-deprived as I’ve mentioned here before. Still, this one seemed like a cool idea, even though I don’t usually, or ever actually, write anything sci-fi, supernatural, whatever.
It was a story about humans a few decades into the future when the powers that be finally recognize that we are killing our planet and that human beings are the major problem. As a brilliant idea to end over-population and abuse of the land throughout the world, they created a program called “touch.” (Carrie, please note where the period is placed in that sentence. The rest of you, carry on.) Each person in the world, above the age of ten or so is given a patch that they are to slap onto the someone else of their choosing, thereby eliminating that person. You get one patch, you off one person.There was more to the story and some subplots about black market patches and all, but that’s the gist of it.
While planning the story I began to wonder about how someone would select their “target.” Would it be an obnoxious neighbor, a cheating husband, a woman wearing a Hijab, a screaming liberal, your kid’s nasty soccer coach, a fat kid? Or, would you take the somewhat higher ground and choose a foreign dictator? Would you choose someone who hurt you or yours, or someone just different? Or, would you choose to eliminate someone by ethnicity? The possibilities were endless; we all have our prejudices, our deeply ingrained beliefs about who is and isn’t worthy.
So, where is this going? Today I opened my Facebook page and there was a post from one of my husband’s nephews, full of expletives and complaints about “the Mexicans” and why we are “required” (his word) to celebrate “their holidays” and speak “their language.” Being Cinco de Mayo, I guess it felt like the right time for him to share his hatred of all things Mexican with us. I guess this nephew would choose to reach out and “touch” someone of Mexican heritage.
I was tempted to respond to my nephew with several things and actually had some of them typed out here in this post to share. But, it was a knee-jerk reaction and, in the end, seemed only likely to fuel the fire.
He has his reasons for hating anyone from Mexico and while I believe them to be things he learned at his Chilean father’s knee, he may or may not ever change his mind. My concern here is why he chose a space as public as Facebook to vent them, and chose words for which his grandmother would wash his mouth out. Repeatedly.
Many US citizens are not happy about the need to print everything in this country in at least two languages. (They might be surprised to find that almost every other country in the world also does this — the second language being English.) And, when your call is answered by a machine in the US, you are offered the option of hearing the message in Spanish or English. I also know that the border between the US and Mexico is a major bone of contention for some.
These beliefs are now seem the norm in this country. Does everyone in the world think all Americans are like this? Do they also believe we are all like Timothy McVey or the Christians who burn the Koran in the name of righteousness?
I just don’t understand the need for such vitriol. Does no one talk about issues anymore? Is the only answer war? Or, is this uniquely American and the country once known as a melting pot, a country to be respected, has spread this attitude and our armaments around the world?
Honestly? This post is all over the place, way beyond my typical style, and too long. I apologize. But, I won’t apologize for my disgust and dismay over what’s happened in this country and our world-wide reputation.
But what can we expect when our own elected officials call each other names and argue over who is more Christian, or one of them shouts that the President a liar during the latter’s speech to Congress. I think we’ve gone too far. It’s an embarrassment. I shouldn’t be surprised that people like our nephew are so filled with hate. We seem to breed it these days. It makes me really, really ashamed and sad, and a little frightened for what’s to become of us.