My Darkest Moments (while traveling, so far)

“Sometimes, a shocking controversy like this one is both freakish and representative.” -TheAtlantic

I’m overcome with just so many angles from which to vent out about the United Airlines incident that just went viral. (But others, the more educated and more informed, have articulated enough insightful takes on it already.) So here’s me offering only a thoroughly personal and perhaps extremely biased response to the latest American thing (italicized as an attempt to capture my scorn for virtually all things in this very broad category) brewing on the Internet…

[Here’s one my first reactions. I also usually don’t post, let alone comments on long threads full of strangers in response to a media coverage. And common-sensically, especially not if what I’m about to say might offend a whole batch of these other commenters (i.e. Americans…). But I just had to, for myself, irrationally.]

Taking a step back, here’s a slower account of how the story struck me.. (but only if you’re also ready for some contextualizing of my own weird personality.)

not many things distress me so much to prevent me from getting to work — in the wee hours of the morning, i.e. as is right now in South African time zone — and being a selfishly productive human being. & there especially aren’t many things in life that literally just make me want to break down into tears. (granted, I have had it good — a.k.a. a tragedy-less life. regardless, I’ve been told many times to be an all-around stoic person who naturally doesn’t get worked up by emotions…)

surprisingly for me, I had one hell of such a moment just now.

another thing that I am is a total skeptic, especially toward what goes ‘viral’ on the media these days.

so going to bed, I read articles on the UA incident but didn’t bother playing through any of the actual videos. typical UA and/or American-airline service (= a judgment based on personal experience dating back from 2007, even as a middle schooler), I thought, and the blood? just another of bloody misfortunes that can happen when human encounters go wrong (especially given the recent plethora of violent American policemen)— was how I initially brushed it off, in my typical nonchalance. (not saying this is the right way to think; it’s unfortunately how my brain just operates — kudos to fake news and our world brimming with a shit ton of shit.) when I actually did watch the video upon waking up in the middle of the night, it was a responsive act to an urge that came after watching the supposedly less violent one showing him subsequently muttering, in bloodied face, ‘just kill me.’

how that phrase spoken through his lips literally went searing through my heart.

I don’t even know this guy. had only later read on that he was a physician with patients waiting for him post-flight. back on point, it was that shot that actually appalled and hooked me on enough to go watch the main part where security officers dragging him out.

the sheer amount of distress that flooded through me as a simple consequence of watching these videos online has forced me to look back to the moments lately—while being away, traveling, & couched in some of these alone times I like to bask in — when I felt most disheartened and downright wrought with an unfamiliar mix of a simultaneously depressed and disturbed state of mind. other times like this that I was instantly forced to recall were:

my sheer repulse upon seeing American college spring-breakers in Mexico chant, ‘build that wall’ (as they presumably sip on margaritas and consume weed and cocaine precisely from their neighboring country) & precisely the same sort of response upon seeing the exact same kind of fratty people (ft. American college spring-breakers, if I must repeat that detestable phrase) proudly having the time of their lives as they commit nasty acts of animal abuse (I actually can’t believe they were proud enough to voluntarily post these videos on Instagram).

I still can’t exactly put a finger on what it was about a duly familiar-looking Asian man muttering those words ‘just kill me’ — a physician, living in a first world country — that made me instantaneously appalled and sick in the stomach for his poor soul. scratch that last phrase. no; he has life better than most other Americans, let alone the rest of the world. he has a respectable occupation that was probably, well-earned on behalf of his virtues. as a once-aspiring-law student who sought to delve into the criminal justice system, I fiercely believe that America continues slavery, only refashioned into a subtler, lesser acknowledged (by the general consensus) format called mass incarceration. though that’s a digression, I generally have little room to feel bad for people who have at least, a comfortable living. myself and my family included.

It took no more than a moment for my heart to feel broken into pieces.

America does not cease to amaze me these days, and I truly mean that in the worst way possible.

This is coming from a cynic who was not even flustered by Donald Trump’s election to presidency; now, him being in office only serves to validate my personal shame to introduce myself to others as ‘an American.’

The sole point of this piece was just to say, I’m so saddened and sickened to the stomach. None of this is meant to aim a social commentary of sorts at America, nor to necessarily criticize and put it down. More than enough people are doing that already, and for more good reasons than not. Count me in, as I’ve been doing it on a daily basis to literally whoever I talk to (new people I meet, American friends back ‘home’, family back ‘home’ in Korea, and etc. etc.).