Life is funny. We spend most of it trying to figure out who we are, and by the time we reach clarity, we are either too old or too cynical to better ourselves. And so, we criticize others, complain about toxic relationships, and withdraw from friends and family to avoid awkward conversations.
Today is Thanksgiving, and what a year it has been. Most of us are still spinning from the whirlwind of chaos brought on by misinformation and hostility. Some have lost loved ones —Thanks, COVID. — and many more will; this is real life 2020, and we are the only ones who can make a difference. The question is, when and how are we going to start?
Everyone has a story that has led to this moment. Mine has so much texture that it often leaves me breathless. But those are my stories, ranging from absolute heartbreak to exhilarating bliss, and unless you've walked a mile in my shoes, you will never understand the choices made by me. The same is true for every single person in the Universe. How dare anyone question the decisions we make.
I've stumbled across several posts recently suggesting that silence means something else. The first time I read those words, it almost made me laugh, but then it dawned on me what was happening. Shaming people into getting what you want may work on specific individuals, but not me. After spending the first half of my life battling abuse and Catholic guilt, I spent the rest of it dealing with extreme narcissism. Simply put, homey don't play that game.
A few months ago, my boyfriend and I watched JONESTOWN: Terror in the Jungle on Amazon. If you're not familiar, Jim Jones was the cult leader who orchestrated a mass murder-suicide 42 years ago — serving 918 commune members, including 304 children, cyanide-poisoned Flavor Aid days before Thanksgiving — at a remote jungle in Jonestown, Guyana.
The four-part docuseries includes interviews with a handful of followers who made it out alive, along with never-before-seen footage of life inside the Peoples Temple. While some of the scenes are difficult to get through, particularly the footage of the actual massacre, where the audio captures children screaming in pain as Jones orders parents to "stop this nonsense" and quiet them, others are impossible to ignore. But how does something like this happen? How can so many people get duped into drinking toxic Kool-Aid and feeding it to their kids? I'll tell you how: they ignore potential red flags and follow these self-proclaimed leaders. Imagine how many more people would have died if Jim Jones had access to social media.
Technology in 1978 was a bit of a joke. Hell, those people didn't even have a flip phone, much less access to real-time news and stories. But we do, and because of it, we can find whatever we need whenever we want. The only problem is that stories are often slanted and most people don't know how to research correctly, so instead of looking for the truth, they seek proof to confirm their suspicions. A lot of good that does when someone with ulterior motives pours your drink.
Punishing people for not voicing their opinion is a recipe for disaster. You cannot "guilt someone" into respecting you or shame them into being who you want. If someone is silent, rest assured they have a reason, and my guess is its none of your damn business. As we head into the new year, let's take a step back, access the damage caused by blind assumptions, and reel this shit in before it gets any worse.
Cheers! Don't let anyone tell you who you are; that's your fucking job.