America 2016: Monsters Under the Bed

monster-1

WHEN WE WERE LITTLE THERE WERE MONSTERS UNDER OUR BEDS.

They kept us up at night, our covers pulled tight over our heads and our hearts demanding swift exit from our chests. We never saw the monsters but we felt them and heard them.

They cast shadows over our young lives – but they never hurt us. If anything, our monsters made us stronger.

History is full of monsters, real ones who boldly displayed their horrors. There were Mongols and Nazis, despots and dictators, conquerors and criminals of all kinds. We’ve endured monsters of ignorance and apathy, of shame and selfishness.

Most of these monsters disappeared forever – and those who stayed, well, they hid under the bed. We knew they were there, knew they might one day return, but over time we stopped paying attention.

We moved ahead and our culture progressed. The monsters became little more than silly childish fears that no adult would take seriously.

And besides, the monsters under the bed had never hurt us before. They were under the bed because they had lost. The monsters knew their place.

Slavery had its day but we shoved it under the bed. Racism once reigned but we pushed it under the bed. Discrimination, persecution, isolationism – all stayed under the bed as America and the world marched ever forward.

Once in a while a monster tried to escape. But for a monster to be real you had to believe in it, and so few believed in monsters anymore that the escapes were always short-lived.

We got confident. We became arrogant. We belittled the monsters, made them feel insignificant and weak. We admonished them to their faces and laughed at them behind their backs.

We pretended they didn’t matter anymore.

And that’s when it happened.

That’s when the monsters had had enough.

In 2016 they came out from under the bed – and for the first time in a very long time, some people believed.

That’s all it took.

Racism roamed free. Hate reared its ugly head and roared. Discrimination danced with joyful abandon.

White supremacists weren’t silenced. Lies flowed like an insidious river. And violence – real, hurtful violence against people because of their opinions – was celebrated.

No one stopped them. Too many refused to take them seriously and still expected them to go back under the bed where they belonged.

But the monsters are not going back. And we can’t just put them back, lest we wake up on some new morning and find the monsters loose again.

 

WHEN WE WERE LITTLE THERE WERE MONSTERS UNDER OUR BEDS.

Now the monsters are out. There is nothing we can do to change that.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t defeat them.

Our monsters used to make us stronger, so get stronger. Tear off the covers and hurl your light into the darkness.

Destroy the monsters once and for all – not with violence, but with hope. Not with anger, but with action.

Monsters are always looking for a fight. But there’s one thing they never expect.

Someone to fight back.

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