I try to smile

There are things that simultaneously break my heart and fill me with inimitable fury.


For the past several days, each time I pull out of the side road near my home and onto the main road—which happens to be a small highway—I pass the remains of what was once a javelina. Were it not located in the middle of the highway in a turning lane, I would retrieve its broken body and bring it to a quiet place to bury it. I have to inhibit my desire to do this each time I drive by and instead blow a kiss toward it to honor its soul in this life and wherever it may headed.


I know that I sign an invisible contract each time I get into my car that states I am aware of all the risks I am taking, which include killing thousands of insects and possibly other beings; yet, I still feel such pain when I witness the beautiful female deer dead on the sidewalk, the limp and beautiful body of a cat on the side of the road, and the fallen javelina.


I also feel anger for what my species has become, so many of us heartless, narrow-minded, and intentionally cruel.


My heartbreak and anger often occur while I am driving. I live in a state that prides itself on its conservative views, and many conservatives driving this force tout their values on the back of their vehicles. I would like to think they are not attempting to break the hearts of sensitive beings in their proximity, but it is difficult for me to understand how anyone could bear to sit in a vehicle that shares the views of racists, bigots, and the intentionally or unlucky ignorant and uneducated.


While waiting to pull out onto the highway this morning, I sat behind a vehicle with a bumper sticker that read: “Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing its IDIOT.” Another sticker in the shape of a paw print enveloped the words, “My dog is smarter than the president.”


It’s only a sticker, you might say, and you would be right.


Freedom of speech and all that jazz.


However, I am so unnerved and even fearful of the rhetoric and vitriol behind this propaganda for the right.


For one, there is no factual truth here, if we can agree that some truths are objective. A dog cannot possibly be smarter than our president. If anything, the dog hanging out of the car window did not seem to possess much of a sense of the danger with which it was flirting. In this case, the dog may outwit the driver but certainly not the president.


Furthermore, I cannot embrace any the values of any person who would choose to be malicious and hurtful for no reason other than because they can and because perhaps, they don’t know any better or refuse to be open to the possibility that they may be harboring hatred that derives from fear.


I thought this person might be headed to the dog park, which was my destination as well, and I wondered what I would do when I saw them. I knew that I would want to sneer, but I imagined I would more than likely just smile. I did not get a chance to find out because they turned to go in the opposite direction.


I do know from experience that neither reason nor nastiness in response to ignorance has a beneficial outcome. Smiling may not seem particularly helpful either, but I choose to bring as much heart into the world as I can and to vent my frustrations in more creative ways—like writing and songwriting—where I may help effect change through dialogue.


I can’t say I feel entirely at peace, even after writing about all of this, but at least I have not perpetuated a domino effect of hatred and fear in my own interpretation of freedom of speech.


Maybe next time, I will bury the javelina.


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