The Facebook post screamed DISMANTLE THE STRUCTURES OF OPPRESSION! Good idea, I thought, even though it was only 8 a.m. and I hadn’t had my coffee. I could kick the can down the road forever, but the weather had cleared and this morning might be a good time to strike.
How do I do that? I wrote. I vote Liberal and I don’t own a bank.
That brought a flood of response, the gist being Figure it out, asshole. Somehow I felt they lacked the time for dialogue. One non-abusive respondent wrote Talk to your friends. I replied that all my friends would certainly agree but would ask the same question: How? Her reply was Google it.
I had thought I was asking a question. But I realized that you don’t ask a question of someone screaming a primal scream. It only proves that you’re reactionary, privileged, and impolite.
But I would take the bull by the horns. No more pussyfooting around. Later that morning, I shuffled up to a young couple in the downtown coffee shop and said in an affable tone, “Dismantle the structures of oppression.”
“How?” the young woman asked.
I shuffled off, hopeful that the pair I left giggling behind me might find a new, creative way to dismantle the structures of oppression.
I was bone weary of primal screams. Down with patriarchy! Down with capitalism! Down with white supremacy! I recalled a Shakespeare play I’d seen on stage with an old man raging against the storm, no word heard above the thunder: no actor could prevail against the special effects.
I tried to reason it out with my cats, pouring out my despair at the exploitation, the persistent wars, the death of the planet, and my own impotence in the face of it all. Shadow licked his nether parts, while Garfy scratched in the cat pan.
It happened to be my day off, so I might deal with it after lunch. Nothing was so crucial. I knew the state of the world I was bequeathing to my kids. Both were past voting age but still voted, though with scant shreds of hope. I felt akin to last year’s drunken driver who missed the turn and rammed a utility pole, with his six-year-old in the car. What got him drunk enough to do that? Only the audience at a film of limb-ripping chainsaws and exploding heads would enjoy the horror of our terror.
After lunch—I’d enjoyed the leftovers from last night, black beans and cole slaw—I sat down to serious work. On Facebook I wrote Should I die? but didn’t send it, nor did I post Let’s all die. I thought of Is it really worth it? and Put up or shut up, but it felt futile to rely on suicide for any constructive dismantlement of oppression. They would surely find a way to monetize suicide.
At last I settled on a strictly non-partisan Smash the state! True, the anarchist implications didn’t reflect the subtleties of my politics. Smashing the state might risk totalitarian rule by Amazon or rampant death-squads, but at least that would be a start.
So that’s what I posted: Smash the state! I got a couple of Likes and fourteen Laugh emojis, which wasn’t what I expected. Clearly most of the respondents didn’t take me seriously, but who ever took you seriously if you didn’t threaten mass murder, or even then?
At least I had put my voice out there, not that it did much good. I brooded all day while paying the bills, cutting the brambles away from the garden plot, washing the car, then was struck by a thought. I might suggest that we all put our kids in passenger seats, get dead drunk, and ram into utility poles—all over the country, all at midnight Eastern Standard Time. Some act of mindless desperation might at least get some play on social media.
I started to write the post, then didn’t. Someone might take me seriously, which would be even worse than getting a Laugh emoji.