Ours is a country broken, beleaguered and bloated, where avarice and underhandedness is rewarded while hard work and kindness is publicly applauded but secretly viewed as a weakness. We’ve been so bullied, prodded and lied to that we don’t even notice our system no longer works. If you’re proud to be an American, you’re cheering on a nation that just hasn’t sold you out yet — or maybe you’re too foolish to realize it already has.
This country is fucked up. If that language offends you, then you’re part of the problem. You’re upset about a word describing the act that brought you into this world, instead of being incensed that our leaders are doing nothing to stop people being taken out of it.
We live in a country that has allowed the business of imprisoning people to become an actual business. Profits from prisons are used to lobby legislators into creating laws that put more people in prison. The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but 21 percent of the its prisoners. Fifty-six percent of these prisoners are African American and Hispanic. If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40 percent, according to data from the NAACP. But when the communities being imprisoned and persecuted protest, they’re labeled terrorists.
Wouldn’t you be protesting and chanting that your life mattered if this was your community? This land doesn’t sound very free or brave.
We live in a country where people say “All Lives Matter” yet don’t believe that everyone is entitled to health care. How can all lives matter if being healthy is a privilege not everyone deserves access to? Nearly every other developed nation in the world — and even many developing ones — has universal health care. Just as we’ve allowed our prison system to profit off misery, we’ve allowed our health care system to profit off whether we live or die. Once again, our system puts profits above people. Quite simply, you can’t be a good person and not believe in universal health care.
We live in a country where, time after time, we are shown that the right to own a gun is more important than the right to be alive. Politicians throw their hands in the air and say “nothing can be done” instead of actually trying.
After the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia created very strict gun laws and instituted a firearm buyback program that has resulted in zero mass shootings in the past 21 years. There have been 70 mass shootings in the U.S. in the same amount of time, according to Mother Jones, yet the National Rifle Association gives millions to unscrupulous politicians every year, ensuring they create and defend laws that not only enable but guarantee these mass shootings will continue to happen.
The NRA is a terrorist organization playing dress-up as a patriotic one. Remember, the same people who argue they need guns to protect themselves from the government are the ones who side with the police every time they kill someone unarmed. The hypocrisy is so horrible it’s deadly.
So ask yourself: Do you value the lives of your neighbors or the profits of corporations? Do you think private companies should be making billions off of prisoners? Do you believe everyone deserves the right to be healthy? Do you think continuing down our current path will do anything to stop future mass shootings?
Look up the people you voted for and see where they stand on these issues. I purposefully left political parties out of this conversation because these are human issues. Think for yourself, fuck your political party.
America is not great. It never was great. And unless we stop voting for people who create and protect laws that enable these things, it never will be great.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.