America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
Alexis de Tocqueville
It’s hard to say precisely the moment when America ceased being good. Some might even say she never was good–at least not wholly. Our country was built upon interracial warfare and slavery–against American natives, Africans, even the white poor.
To say any of that was ever good is shortsighted and misleading.
And yet, one can’t help but argue that America has always been great: a bastion of freedom, a new exploration of democracy on a scale that hadn’t been seen before, a righteous (but not self-righteous) country whose faith lay not in ethereal deities or divine mandates but upon the collective goodness of the people themselves. Yes, America hasn’t always met these ideals (if ever she has), but striving toward ideals is itself a a constant struggle and a constant celebration of the small victories along the way.
Yet now, amid political corruption and mass shootings, what victories remain?
More importantly, let me introduce you to their rapists.
One of my friends at Guilford Tech was raped by his father. One of the guys I worked alongside was raped by his older brother’s best friend. One of the guys I’ve met at N.C. State was raped by his first boyfriend. I have a friend who was raped by her ex-husband, and another friend who was raped by her boyfriend. One of my very best friends was raped twice–by people she didn’t even know.
And people say there’s no such thing as rape culture.
I like to think all things begin with chaos. It is order of the most profound nature. Order so precise, the slightest variation at the start can lead to endings worlds apart. I like to think, the further from this primordial chaos we become, the more distilled is the order around us. We begin to detect patterns. We begin to feel the rhythms of the world, the rise and fall of our breathing, the beating of our hearts. We gain the order upon which we can build our lives, upon which we can foster freedom for ourselves, moving forward toward the future.
Other times we get lost in that chaos. We lose ourselves.
This is not a story about that. Instead it’s a story about much more.