This place, so full of greed, no compassion to be seen. Nothing makes sense to me now, not that it ever did to begin with. I always felt off here. I always had that feeling of something being missing. Something not agreeing with my conscience, with my stomach. Allah is the Supreme Ruler over all things in His glorious creation. In this place, people seem to forget that life culminates in death. That death is just around the corner. That the time they perceive to be everlasting is only ever drawing closer to an end. Ya Allah.
There is so much greed here, so much heartlessness. Everyone is an individual, and inherently worthy of self-adoration. You collect your government provided education, you apply for any job of your choosing. You come and go as you please, and you get paid handsomely to do it. You complain about taxes but overlook the bounty surrounding you, the clean streets and perfectly manicured public parks. The trees and the grass, the water and the air. All free of charge, they come standard with the package. You live here, and you have no idea how lucky you are to be able to say that. Yet, all you can think of is how much you don’t have, how much you wish you had what your neighbor had. How hard you try to deny him any advancement, by any means you can muster. You already have a full plate, but it would taste better if you got to see him starve. You want to be able to count every rib in his chest with the tip of your finger, poking at the sore spots for added emphasis. You want to laugh wickedly as you see the last bit of hope leave his eyes, making eye contact with him so that he knows just how far beneath you he is. This is not a competition, nor is it a fight for survival.
This is America, survival is a forgone conclusion, it’s just a matter of determining what levels of excess you can reach. This is not Africa, where the cost of a life is less than that of a cup of coffee. This is the heartland, the bible belt, wheat stalks as tall as the eye can see. This is not the favela, the slum village; you won’t worry about dying of preventable causes here. You need not fear becoming the next victim of ethnic violence if the election results don’t turn out as expected. You won’t go hungry a day of your life here, even if you have nowhere to sleep.
This is the place where the rich can’t afford to sleep at night and where poverty stricken dreams fall by the wayside. This is where nightmares are glorified and put on pedestals for all to see, smiles that don’t quite reach the eyes. This is the place where you are conditioned from pre-school onward, where you are told to reach for the sky, so long as the clouds in your sky are made of debt beyond your ability to pay and decadence beyond your ability to consume it. You are told to sell your faith for less than the price of a cup of coffee a day here. Morals? Don’t even think about it. To remain true to your moral grounding in this part of the world is akin to holding a burning coal between two open wounds on each of your palms, the flesh sizzling like freshly charred steak at a campfire cookout.
This is the place where you get ahead in life, but in doing so you have no choice but to forget the meaning of life itself. You’re too busy running like a chicken with its head cut off, gasping for air, trying to keep the facade from falling in on itself. Trying desperately to keep up with the Jones’ and depicting a flawless image of success the whole time. This is the land of never ending compromises that chip away at the foundation of your being like stagnant flood waters to a creole cottage in the 3rd Ward, post-Katrina. It’s only a matter of time before the levees break, before FEMA is called in to help distinguish the looters from the searchers, the criminals from the victims of misfortune.
This is the land where your identity is only useful if it’s fashioned into a flag and wrapped tightly around a javelin, your arm cocked back like those Greek Olympians of fabled antiquity. This is the place where you are asked your origin story so many times that you forget where you came from, where the truth stopped and the alterations started distorting your memory. This is the place where your humanity is predicated on how elaborate of a heart-wrenching story you can recite on command. This is the place where we call home, for better or worse, because our original world became too violent to withstand.
Begging for handouts dissolves your pride more than you’d imagine; begging to be spared from a most certain death doesn’t give you time to think about your feelings. One is worse than the other, but you’d be hard pressed to choose between rotting apples and maggot infested oranges without stopping to look around for a hidden camera. I assure you, this is not a prank and you’ll just have to find a way to keep putting one step in front of the other. This world is a crazy place, and so little of it makes sense.
Everyone is just lost, trying to swim against the current, trying to find a way back home. Trying to spawn one time in their lives, right before the sand expires in their hour glass. Make the most of it, while you can. Live, love, and if you can, laugh. If that’s too much to ask, at least force yourself to smile. A tear-streaked smile is better than that repressed rage.
Even active volcanoes find a way to support life a few decades after destroying everything in their paths. Dandelions and daffodils sprouting from the ashes on the edge of their craters, lakes forming inside the depressions left by their evacuated calderas. Hope blooming where moments before there was only despair.