Fear. It’s what’s for breakfast.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately. David’s post and the language he used is what convinced me to say this out loud.
I just spent close to a year and a half in a close relationship with an American man. Father, military past, factory worker, upstanding citizen. Backbone of the nation. I spent time with his friends and his family. Same deal. And then there’s all of you, brilliant and funny and regular folk. Years we’ve been together, you and I.
(ETA: Everyone I know at one point or another - every American - expressed some sort of fear in conversation at some point. Sometimes oblique, sometimes straight-on. Every time I find it kind of shocking.)
Recently I got an OKCupid message from a guy that – amongst other things – named Canada in his list of ‘6 things you can’t do without’. I asked him about it. He said, “I love Canada. It is just so innocent.”
Know what? We’re not innocent. We just don’t live with daily fear.
I’m going to keep this as short and as sweet as I can. I do not want to come across like a smug Canadian. I’m not feeling smug about this; it alarms me. People I know and love dearly are facing this stuff, I care and I wish I could help. I don’t know if I’m adding anything to the overall discussion and enlightenment, but it’s worth talking about, I think. I’ll be especially interested to know if my fellow Canucks agree with me. The cultural difference is profound.
As a Canadian that grew up in and worked in the largest – and statistically one of the most dangerous – city in the nation, I did not fear for my personal safety. Ever. Not my person, not my property, not my home, not my car.
Let me repeat that. Never, not once, did I feel real fear. I still don’t.
Now, full-on truthy disclosure: I’ve had some heinous things done to me. To my person, my body. But I was never afraid that it would happen. Even afterward, when I could be forgiven completely if I were to cloak myself in rabbity nervousness and paranoia, I didn’t. Because there was no way that would happen to me again.
The family van was broken into (my compound miter saw and a few other tools stolen, fuckity) while my ex was eating in a restaurant in Chinatown. Caught a dude on my front porch once, definitely sketchy, probably working up his nerve to try the knob and do a purse-by-the-door snatch and run. Ran him off with a loud “You picked the wrong house, dude.”
So I’ve had those things happen. And I do not live in fear of them. Not before they happened, not after. I do not know what that feels like. Maybe I’m just naïve, but I’m telling you I am not alone.
Now, do I stand in the middle of the subway or GO train platform? Yep. Did I ditch a freak that seemed far too interested in my footwear, even being so bold as to ask me where I bought my shoes? You betcha. Do I lock my doors at night, etc? Yes. But I don’t honestly think my safe zone is going to be violated. Not really. I’m just being cautious, responsible, and covering my ass just in case I have to claim something on my insurance. Just in case.
My mom was in the CICU for over 3 months, intubated, respirator, special bed to avoid bed sores, Herculian amounts of drugs. Several tests per week, at least one CT. Per week. My biggest expense? Parking. Richard is right; I’ve never seen a hospital bill. Not once, I’ve birthed five children, two were in the NICU for good chunks of time. I’ve had surgeries myself. I’ve never seen a hospital bill. I do not live in fear of going bankrupt because I or a member of my family fall ill or am injured. Not even now, after I’ve been out of work for over a year.
I’m pointing all this out because I don’t know how anyone is ever going to be able to address the huge social issues you’re facing today as a nation – gun control, health care, foreign policy, perceived erosion of personal rights and freedoms, racism, sexism, you name it – if you have to wake up and swallow that dose of fear every single day of your lives. Fear is malignant and clouds your vision and makes it impossible to think clearly. Fear is not rational, it’s not fair, it’s not honest or true. Fear is a lying cheating prick that fucks your sister and empties your wallet.
Kris made reference to a list of places she was now afraid to send her children. School and church was on the list, if I remember correctly.
It’s not just your health care that’s broken.