I’m a really negative person. I know this about myself. I’m hyper-critical of virtually everything — and dammit — I’m quite good at it. But then I’m also really saccharine when it comes to patriotism because America is such a wonderfully strange place to live.
I feel like I can say that now, having ping-ponged from coast to coast asking people questions about their lives like some kind of over-educated interview hobo. Really, if anything quite sums up the past 8 years of my life, it’s that sentence. Right there. That’s me.
Oh, I love America. We’re so big! I drove across us twice. Back and forth, up and down. We’re yyyyyyuge.
I bought this postcard in Nebraska.
Isn’t that a riot? America, we’re a riot.
When I go somewhere, anywhere really, I always buy two of the same postcard. I buy one to send to someone and I keep the other.
I have postcards from most of all the places in America I’ve been. Some of you out there have postcards from the places I’ve been. I’m one of those Americans.
What I love about America is that there’s just so much of it. There are so many pockets of America bursting at the seams with weirdos. But the best part is that they’re different kinds of weirdos wherever you go! No matter where you go, you won’t have to look hard for a fresh batch of All-American weirdos. Move around often enough and you’ll never stop being knocked off your horse by the Great American Absurd.
And next to our absurdity there are hints all over us of greatness. There are startups at work growing mushrooms to insulate houses. There are people in Detroit turning abandoned lots into urban gardens that grow fresh, affordable food for their communities.
And — oh God — when you think all hope is lost, there’s a little girl named Hailey up in Washington who spends her free time building tiny houses for the homeless.
I mean come on, America, we can be so great sometimes. Like Hailey. Hailey, the best American, toiling her childhood away at something she shouldn’t even have to be thinking about because we as a country don’t recognize housing as a human right.
I’m sorry, Hailey. We’re letting you down, kid.
America, there’s a lot of shit we have to do. Hailey can’t do it alone.
America, we are sitting on 14 million empty houses and in the time it took us to finish The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, that kid will have built four more. Christ, aren’t we absurd.
The only good news America gets from me is that there is so much to do.
When politicians talk about creating jobs, I think that’s preposterous. The jobs are already here. They’re teaching our kids. Caring for the sick. Housing the poor. Fixing our soil. Planting our crops. Saving the fucking planet.
The problem is you don’t think we can.
You think we have to wait.
You think we can wait.
Wait until the Democrats take Congress, even though you probably don’t even know the name of your House Representative, do you. When was the last time you got involved in a state senatorial campaign?
There’s a lot of cynicism on both sides of the aisle but we’re doing a lot of nothing outside on the lawn. We’ve abandoned the public castle, and in our absence, the vultures got in. The Larry Summers of the world slither in to shit neoliberal economics in the hole where our civic compassion should have gone. The bad money mojo snuck in the back door and now walks around wearing Hillary Clinton like a meat suit.
What’s your backup plan? Prayer on a hope on a dream that the next whiz kid is more woke than the last one?
We at the Council for Human Decency have been charged not with fixing these cascading crises. It’s not our place to say how that gets done. No, our only role is to question our collective imagination and investigate the lack of concern. We keep ledgers of crimes against humanity. The walls are lined with maps of where we go wrong. We only exist to ask you what you are doing. How big do you want to be? How much greatness can you stand?
Our policy at the Council for Human Decency is that it never hurts to ask.