It was 11:25 p.m. on Saturday, January 7. My goal was to go to bed by 11:30, so naturally, I figured that I had enough time to do one more relatively small task. I chose as my final task, the job of looking up something that I had seen on social media the day before and wished to blog about, taking a screenshot of said thing, and pasting said screenshot into a draft blog post so that I could easily bang out the blog post the next day, the screenshot of the subject matter already in place.
Naturally, I was unable to quickly find the social media post that I was looking for. So I continued scrolling and scrolling, looking for it. In the process, I discovered that the U.S. government had decided to remove the Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery, something that pains me to have to type. I had known that this was under consideration, but hadn’t known that the decision to go ahead with this atrocity and moral abomination had already been made.
Making matters worse, this decision had taken place on December 29, ten entire days before I found out about it.
Immediately upon learning this information, my entire body, mind, and soul erupted in excruciating and unbearable agony. To say that I don’t get the reasoning behind this decision, and the countless others like it in all different places around the country, would be an understatement. It is difficult to imagine a future for myself in a society that has decided that it would somehow be a good idea to systematically obliterate everything that makes my life worth living. Arlington National Cemetery, like so many other places and things, has been turned into yet another instrument to hurt me, to oppress me, and to declare my feelings, thoughts, and perspective invalid. Arlington National Cemetery has been redesigned and reconfigured to send the message that everyone deserves to be honored, except for people like me. Yet another thing, which used to be (and ought to be) beautiful, magnificent, and cool, now deliberately ruined. As I’ve written before, I don’t believe there are words available in any language that are capable of fully expressing the severity of this pain.
Thinking about the events of Saturday night, I am simultaneously mad at myself for making the decision to look at social media at such a late hour (an activity that I am trying to cut back on), and also mad at myself for not having found out about the atrocity sooner. I felt derelict and irresponsible for not keeping up with the latest developments on a topic that is so important to me and affects me so deeply. I suppose this relates to the philosophical question of whether it is better to know the truth, even though it makes one unhappy, or to remain ignorant and also happy. Would it really be beneficial for me to be shielded from these horrible things via cutting down on my social media use, given that these things are, in reality, happening? Is happiness truly valuable if it is based on an inaccurate perception of what is actually happening in the world?
By the way, after an hour of searching, I never found the post that I was looking for.
I also, as you might imagine, got very little sleep, so my brain was in no shape for blogging on Sunday anyways.
I’m not 100% sure why I am sharing this, other than to make it clear that the systematic obliteration of statues and monuments honoring the Confederacy causes real pain and inflicts real harm on real people. I am a human being, my feelings, thoughts, and perspective are just as valid as anyone else’s, and I do not deserve to be made to feel like this. I wish that Ty Seidule, the government official who made this despicable decision, could be made to feel what I am feeling as a result of his actions. I wish that he could truly understand what I am experiencing, and truly understand the impact, the real human costs, of what he did. I am certain that if this were possible, government officials would make different decisions than the ones they are currently making.
Actions and decisions like the one regarding Arlington National Cemetery are morally wrong, and the people who make them and carry them out do not hold the moral high ground.