Giving away a pair of tickets to the Toronto @riot_fest (worth $400) - To enter: in honor of #fbf, post a painfully awkward scene pic of yourself on your IG (following the posted instructions) wearing a band shirt that is playing RiotFest. Winner will be chosen in 4 hours and the tickets mailed out this afternoon so hurry up and start combing through your old myspace account.
Like many of you, I have been asked to do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and money for charity. And I have chosen to not participate. Here’s why.
This challenge is a positive charitable act. The Ice Bucket Challenge is simply a funny and palatable vehicle of getting people to do a good deed. While I truly believe that the challenge is inherently good, I just know that wasting water for attention doesn’t do shit. What DOES do some good, is donating money to a foundation that funds actual research. Unfortunately, most people who have done the challenge haven’t donated - even some that claim they would. While the ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease which is a neuro-degenerative disorder, has had a significant increase over the last month in donations. I read somewhere 1000 times the average month of donations. So if you have done the challenge and donated, that is awesome and amazing but I believe there are organizations out there that need just as much support.
All that being said, throwing money at an organization doesn’t mean shit if you click and donate and go back to being an awful human being who puts negativity back into the world. If you’re not trying to make your little corner of the world a little less shitty, well then your little funny video comes off as nothing more than a self-aggrandizing wank-fest. “See! I can play along and do funny things and maaaaybe I donated to this thing that I don’t even know about so now I can go back to telling racist and sexist jokes and being a victim-shaming rape apologist without feeling guilty because look guys, look! I dumped water on my head!”
So I chose to make a donation to RAINN.org - an organization that provides counseling to and support to victims rape, incest, and sexual abuse, where 92 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs and services. As a survivor of abuse and a friend to many other survivors, I made the donation in their names. Including a friend of mine who exactly six years ago to the day, was violently raped in her home by an intruder. She wanted me to share her story again for her as well.
And I also chose to buy food for a homeless person yesterday and give them a hug. Because sometimes treating people like human fucking beings is all you have to do to make your corner of the world a little less shitty.
And that is my challenge to all of you.
There has been a lot of talk about suicide lately and everyone seems to have a very definite opinion on the subject. Truth is this - you’re all wrong.
In the wake of Robin Williams death, it seems everyone is out there screaming that depression killed Robin Williams - as if millions of strong people suffering with, or surviving, depression need to accept their fate. As if it is an uncontrollable act. Like a cancer eating you from the inside that no prayer can fix and no modern medicine can cure.
There are some that consider suicide the most ultimate form of selfishness. That the last act of a truly selfish person is to leave loved ones behind to mourn and writhe in pain for years.
There are some that believe with the right combination of therapy and medicine, anyone can live through the darkness that envelops their lives.
There are some that call it a “disease.” That people who kill themselves never had a choice. That this was their ultimate fate. That they gave everything they had and there was no choice but to give in.
There are some that say it is the ultimate form of selfLESSness. That if they take themselves from this world, they will hurt less people because it seems that they ruin everything they touch. That the damage they live with only leaves the world a shittier place and it would be the best for everyone if they left and were gone forever.
Truth is, none of those are correct. Or maybe all of them are correct. Or maybe none of the reasons truly matter because the only person who truly knows what is going on is the person fighting that battle. And even then, some of us can’t even articulate the overwhelming sadness that washes over us like a blanket when we turn off the lights. Or the thick fog that burrows into our brains and makes us feel unworthy. Unloved. Wasted. Washed up. Alone. Insignificant. And alone again.
Truth is, some of us make it and some of us don’t. Depression impacts wonderful mothers and sociopathic rapists. Teachers and doctors and murders and muslims and brown people. Some of us are selfish assholes and some of us try to do what’s best for the one’s we love. Sometimes that means we over-hug people and sometimes that means tell them we love them. Sometimes that means we lie in bed for hours contemplating the best way to end it all so we can have an open casket because our mom would probably like that. Or sometimes, we ask for help and shamefully whisper confessions in a room to get pills. Whatever the reason is, doesn’t fucking matter.
What we do know is that Robin Williams was loved and all that love and adoration from peers and strangers couldn’t help him. When I first heard the news, I was driving on the expressway. The first thing I said was, “Well, I’m fucked.”
She said, “What do you mean?”
And I said, “If that ultra-talented, good-hearted, millionaire couldn’t make it, I don’t have a fucking chance.”
I was kidding. Or at least, that’s what I told her. But maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I started thinking that life only gets more difficult as we evolve. That we have to stick around watching the ugly of the world get swept aside by people in power and our friends and family make us feel guilty for not living up to their standards. That we have to continuously wake up day after day and wonder where the fuck we went wrong - because this certainly wasn’t where our lives were supposed to end up. That insurance companies try to cheat you out of your policies and your boss is an insecure little asshole. Oh, and on top of it - why is it so goddamn tough to find someone to love us to our dirty rotten core?
So I get it. I get why someone would want to leave. It totally makes sense to me and to ask why it happened is irrelevant. The only reason you need to ask “why?” is so you can understand. But it’s not your fucking choice whether or not someone leaves or stays. It is not your right to tell someone they have to continue to live in constant misery and pain just so you don’t have to live in the misery and pain they leave behind. You telling someone they don’t have the “right” to leave you is just as selfish as them saying they DO have the right. No one wins. The only thing we can do to fix this fucked up situation is to make life not just tolerable, but worth living for everyone.
But what is important is that we are talking about it. We are allowing those of us who lurk under a constant dark cloud with fake smiles the opportunity to see that we are not alone. That we shouldn’t feel like we’ve done something wrong simply because our brains weren’t built like everyone else’s. That depression is something to take seriously and that none of us should be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.
So no, you don’t know why he killed himself. Was he selfish? Who fucking knows. Was he being altruistic? Who fucking cares. Because your interpretation of another person’s pain is presumptuous and judgmental. Your need to compartmentalize someone’s choice to end their time here so you can justify their motives in your head is self-centered and doesn’t help anyone anywhere.
Truth is, plenty of people kill themselves out of downright spite. Some kill themselves as revenge. Some kill themselves to inflict pain upon their loved ones. Some kill themselves in beautiful glory. Some kill themselves out of the good for the world and whether you agree with it or not doesn’t change anything at all.
But that doesn’t mean this relinquishes you of any responsibility. Oh, you’re goddamn right you have a fucking job to do while you’re here. And that job is to make every fucking day count - because every last one of us leads by example. Because even you reading right now - you have someone who looks up to you and thinks you are fucking awesome. Because your job here is to make the people who are important to you feel loved and appreciated. Because you don’t know who is suffering in silence and you never know when someone is going to clock out. But I can tell you this - as a person who has been at constant war with those dark clouds and thick late-night fog, the only hope I have is knowing that I matter. But that’s just me. And my reason for living might be a completely different definition than the next person.
See, my job is to make you motherfuckers understand that you fucking matter. Each and every last one of you. And yeah, maybe I don’t know you but I do know that someone somewhere thinks you’re fucking awesome and it would really be fucking amazing if you stuck around and helped the people who came after you make sense of this stupid and ridiculous and beautifully confusing world and when you died it was of old age.
I mean, that’s what I want.
And I have a lot of you to thank for that.
So I guess I’m still here…
Because of you.
I wish adults had been a little more responsible with me. Or rather, maybe a little more honest. Sure, no one really wants to shit in a kids cereal but you can’t hide a child forever. What I mean is, I wish someone had told me at an early age that life isn’t fair. Now, that’s not a pessimistic outlook - it’s just a simple truth. But probably one of the most important truths we need to understand.
I grew up angry. Angry at seeing the rich kids have cool cars, at the kids with two parents, at the fathers who loved their kids, at the families who always had running electricity, and so on. But what would have helped so much is if someone I trusted had sat me down and explained how most of the time, life isn’t fair. But no. They lied and gave everyone trophies in t-ball. Why? Because it wasn’t fair to the rest of the kids who didn’t come in the top spots and they tried just as hard. And I learned early on that everyone should be treated fairly. And they should. But life doesn’t work like that.
In fact, the justice system consistently treats people of color drastically different. That people who come from wealth will continue to have it significantly easier to achieve goals that seem impossible to most of us. That money can literally buy justice. That being related to the right person can drastically make it easier to achieve fame. That women will be held up to different social standards, and as an added bonus, be paid less across the board. And through it all we teach children to be fair in an unfair world. But what they really should be teaching is that if enough of us get together and treat each other like human beings and not players on an opposing team and try to be fair to each other, we might make life a little easier for everyone.
Let me put it to you like this - a friend of mine has a DUI, as in, got caught driving under the influence of alcohol. She didn’t hit anyone. She didn’t crash her car. She simply was driving the length of a parking lot and two side streets back to her apartment. Only problem is, she hit a small patch of ice and slid into a small snowbank. No big deal, except for the cop who just happened to see it all go down. She went to jail for the night, had to post a $1000 for bail, had to pay $5000 for a lawyer, had to attend drunk driving classes, then had to do 200 hours of community service work, all while having her license revoked for six months. And when she told me the story, I said, “Good. You deserved it.” She was slightly offended until I reminded her that she broke the damn law and that law is there to deter irresponsible people from killing someone I love. She responded, “Well, I didn’t.” And I said, “Yeah, that time. But how many times did you drive drunk before you actually got caught.” She got quiet, then he told me that people look down on her. That she can’t apply for certain jobs and that a DUI will always be on her record. It can be used against her in court and anyone with Google can learn about her “ugly” past.
What I’m getting at here is - how many people do you know that got away with it? Not because they’re good people. Not because they commit to drive sober, but because they simply had luck on their side. Or they knew a cop. Or they paid someone off. Or that they had enough spare money so they could afford a good enough lawyer with the right connections to get them off?
Think about it this way - how many of you have done some shit that should have landed you in jail. I’m sure most of you out there have done something that would have warranted even a little time. Drunk driving, physical abuse, stealing from a job, vandalizing, harassment, etc. But odds are, you probably didn’t get caught. Does that make you any better than those who did? Does that give you the right to look down on those who have gotten caught? But most importantly, is that fair?
Is it fair that most people who drive drunk never get caught?
Is it fair that most people who rob banks statistically get away with it more often than they get caught?
Is it fair that 97% or rapists will never see a day of jail?
Is it fair that most animal abusers never see a day of jail?
Is it fair that my father still walks the streets knowing he has gotten away with beating women, molesting children, raping women, blackmailing immigrants, kidnapping my mother, stealing welfare, and never paying taxes a day in his life? No. It’s not fair. Because life isn’t fair. And to believe anything else is simply childish and naive.
Life will always be unfair. And we can try as hard as we like but one group will always have power over another and with that comes corruption. And we can scream and vote and yell and complain and protest all we like and sometimes things change, but mostly, the inequalities usually just shift somewhere else. But the way things really change, the way we can make the biggest difference, the thing that all of my teachers and grandparents and coaches and priests should have told me was that the biggest and greatest revolution is how we treat each other. That showing respect and treating the every day people in our lives fairly and with patience and kindness and compassion is more effective than anything else. Because positivity influences others. Because answering a phone call or hanging out with a friend going through a tough time and being supportive are what transformations are made out of. Being kind when you have nothing to gain - that is when you show your character and that is when you directly make your corner of the world just a little less shitty.
Children with unrealistic expectations of the world grow up to be confused and confused kids turn into angry and unfair adults and angry and unfair adults are the ones who take and refuse to give. So yes, shit in kid’s cereal. Tell them about the inequalities and the unfair treatment they will undoubtedly encounter. But also tell them that the honor of their character and the amount of love they receive will be based upon the kindness and generosity they put back out into the world.
In fact, that is about the only thing that IS fair in this world.