The Stories We Tell Our Children

As I contemplate the world on this Memorial day, I am thinking about the father I never had a chance to know, and thinking deeply about the stories we tell on these holidays, as well as the cracks in between. This was one of the only photos I had of my father while growing up. As a young impressionable male, I wanted to join the military, fill my void with service and days spent fighting “the enemy”–a fire that was stoked daily by the adults in my life. After hearing the 6:00 news, from the radio out in the shop, and around the dining room table, my friends and I would spend our weekends at the river, running military exercises to prepare us for when the Russians invaded–WOLVERINES!!!!

The adults around me would tell us stories, purchase us backpacks, guns, and knives, all fueled by their own fears–completely unaware of what this was doing to us. I now hear these same adults telling stories about how Russia has a strong leader, and we should be afraid of those brown people over there, that we should go to war with them, and that we should not let them into our country. They are letting their fears be stoked, be used (yet again) to make the world a more hostile place, and ensuring that the next generation will be just afraid of the world as they are, and where societal and financial collapse becomes the only hope you have (you spend your days waiting, hoping for the next collapse, all the data points to it being October 5th)–this becomes the light at the end of the tunnel.

On this day I think about what my life would have been like if I had not got that hit of album cover acid at the Dylan & The Dead concert in 1987 and found my own way out. I found my own way out of rural poverty (thumb on the freeway), away from the stories of fear that were rooted in generations of racism and isolation. I’m thankful that I was able to break the cycle of stories that are told in rural parts this country, where boys do not know their fathers, they worship their guns, fear brown people, and never trust those people over there in the city, or in that other country I have never actually ever been to.