I understand it, in a way.
There’s a comfort in being alone. If you’re all you’ve got, you’re all you’ve got to worry about. You’re all you’ve got to protect. You’re all you’ve got to feed, and clothe, and pay, and pray for. You know what’s yours, and you know what you’re capable of. There’s a solidity in that, a relief.
And it’s a lie.
We are none of us alone.
You can try to be. You can try all you want. You can wall yourself off, behind a wall of money or anger or hate or fear. You can crawl into your hole and swear you’ll never come out.
But eventually someone finds you. They always do. Somebody is always knocking on the door. Sending you an e-mail, a letter, a note. Calling you up. Saying hello on the street. Pushing you, changing you, loving you, no matter how hard you resist. Somebody always finds a way in, and then you’re lost, you’re in it, you’re a part of the world.
That’s the price. And the reward. And over and over in speeches all week that’s what we’ve been hearing about. About the ways in which we engage one another, and the rewards of the same.
Good schools benefit me, though I have no children.
A good job for me benefits you, because I can buy food at your store.
A pension for you benefits me, because you stay in your home, and are my good neighbor.
You defend me in the military, and I care for you when you are wounded.
I am sick, and you pay for my medicine, and you are sick, and I pay for yours.
These are the deals we make, and should make. Listen to Sister Simone:
Listen to that. That is love without limits. Call it Christ if you want, I have no problem with that. I’m not sure it matters what you call it, though, because that isn’t a bludgeon. That is a torch.
We are so scared, everybody who listened to last week’s RNC speeches about me and mine and what I built and what you owe me and how you’re lazy and I’m the only hard worker here. We are so scared that everybody else isn’t going to hold up their end of the bargain. We are so scared to get taken for suckers, to have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes.
Guess what? That’s all this is. That’s all life is, every day. Mistakes and misfortunes and struggles. Not a day goes by something doesn’t happen where you think oh damn not this again not now, no matter how well off you are. And all we are saying, all week long in Charlotte, is that when that happens, we can reach out to one another, and pull one another up.
Arms flung wide. None of this angry, frightened, when-do-I-get-mine, what-if-you-don’t-hold-up-your-end, hedging, play-the-odds pettiness. None of this constant policing, and it makes me so tired, the constant policing of everybody else’s lives to make sure they’re not getting one cent more than we the righteous think they’re owed.
(I swear if we spent a fraction of the time we spend bitching about Our Tax Dollars paying for this, that or the other Welfare Cheat on actually ending poverty, we’d have solved that shit four times over and have money left over for National Free Ice Cream Sandwich & Kitten Petting Day.)
None of that. Just the assurance, the mindblowing assurance that we are not a series of islands that We Built, looking suspiciously over our fences at one another. In our vision of America, I may be responsible for picking you up someday. But you will be responsible for picking me up, for knocking on my door, for giving me food when I’m hungry and care when I’m sick and telling me the only thing human beings have ever told one another, from the time we could reach out to one another through the darkness.
We are none of us alone.
Here, take my hand.
You pull me up. I’ll pull you.