Mar 18, 2016

Déjà Vu

Dear Reader, 

I don’t want to turn this blog into a political one, I am sure what I am doing with it now that my struggles as an immigrant are over. At least, the legal struggles are over.

I can’t sit by anymore, though and not comment on the clusterfuck this campaign has been. I voted for the first time in my life on Tuesday. For the FIRST TIME EVER. When I lived in Venezuela I was Colombian and a Permanent Resident but not allowed to vote, I left Colombia when I was 3 years old so not quite old enough to vote. During the Colombian elections of 2002, I was old enough to vote but it was a month after I moved to the US and I was not in a mental frame of mind to give a fuck. In later years, it seemed too odd to cast a vote that in theory would affect how lives are lived in a country I had never lived in. 

Needless to say, this is the first time in my life where my vote would count in a country I live in and where that vote would affect change in my day to day basis. I know how the electoral college works, I know the delegate thing pretty much takes actual democracy out of the voter’s hand, I know all dad, Adam Ruins Everything already ruined that for me a few months ago     
Be that as it may, I cannot help but hold a shred of hope that we, the people can affect change, positive change in the way things are done, in how legislations are written, in how the law can work for us.

Look at Seaworld! Less than three years after the movie Blackfish, which documents the plight of captives whales, (specially Tilikum, the whale who caused the dead of trainer Dawn Brancheau) came out and brutally opened the eyes of everyone to the pain and suffering of Orca whales in captivity, the park has decided to cave to pressure and end their breeding and captivity program. There won’t be any more ‘circus like’ shows, there won’t be any more kidnapping or trading of whales between parks, no more breeding animals that should roam free to the unnatural habitat of a tank and performing like clowns. These 28 (the actual number varies between 24 and 58) whales will be the last whales used by Seaworld. They will educate the future generations on marine mammals without the circus act, without torturing those majestic creatures.

How did it happen? Because of the people, because of you and me and everyone else who complained and hashtagged the shit out of #emptythetanks and #blackfish and #seaworldsucks. People who boycotted, and protested outside the parks, complained, wrote emails and letters, called their representatives and senators, shared links on Facebook and Instragram and Twiter, talked to their friends and coworkers, educated strangers. Because of those small steps, little by little it changed the law. By law the trainers couldn’t get in the water or even close to the whales, which makes it harder for the show to go on, interaction, I believe it’s the key to training them.

Then came the California Coastal Commission who agreed to let Seaworld expand their park in San Diego only if they ended the breeding program. And so the breeding program is done, over with. Why? Because they had to, because the people won. The whales won too, the ones not to be born into captivity anymore, the ones who could’ve been snatched from their pods in the future.  This is THE biggest victory in animal advocacy in decades.

When I see stuff like that happens it quiets down the cynic in my that wants to rears its ugly head every time I watch a Republican debate, or hear someone say Muslims will have to be tracked (I don’t even understand how logistically speaking that would be possible)  every time I see a Trump rally full of spewing hate.  I refuse to give myself up to the dark side and become a cynic. I refuse to say I don’t care and stop being informed, I refuse to be charmed by ‘refreshing’ clowns that spout bigotry and racism and hatred and want to disguise it under the mask of patriotism. It hurts to care, but I refuse to become desensitized and swallow that pill that everyone has seems to have swallow and take pride on remaining ignorant because “all politicians are the same” or “my vote won’t count” or “they are all bought by wall street anyway” I won’t be suck down by this wave of anti-intellectualism where is cooler and somehow better to be ignorant, misinformed and uncaring.

I already saw this happening. I saw this exact same development in Venezuela. When Chavez ran for President, speaking about certain groups of people as if they were not Venezuelans, running a divisive campaign, with his polo t-shirts and his booming voice and his uber colloquialism, his ‘refreshing’ tell-it-like-it-is, isn’t it shocking but oh so funny persona.  He won them over, the ones who were looking for entertainment when they should’ve been looking for leadership. He won over the ones who heard negative things about Colombians, and realized they have been thinking those dark thoughts themselves but maybe they didn’t feel comfortable saying them out loud, but now the President was saying it too, so maybe it’s okay.  He won over the ones full of resentment, valid of imagined and he stoked that fire. Now the ember is still smoldering and there is nothing left of the country Venezuela used to be, with the values it used to have, and the freedoms it used to enjoy. Like Nero, now the whole fucking thing is burning down. 

History always repeats itself, I want to believe that we can stop it from repeating. Rise above the noise, don’t be a part of the common denominator, read, research, google, and ask questions, debate, be uncool and give a damn! Don’t settle for food and entertainment, free grain and circuses.  We can do better than that. We did for Tillikum, now let’s fucking do it for ourselves.