Why Americans Need To Feel Bad

Things are bad. Why should you feel good?

Svetlana telling Tony Soprano how it is

Some Americans say my articles make them feel bad. I find this strange. 250,000 of you have died. You’re in the middle of a stupid coup. People are suffering all around. Why should you feel good?

This is like saying that the sound of a fire alarm stresses you out. Uh, okay. YOU’RE ON FIRE!

I am just an above-average writer from an average situation. Most people in the world have been through some shit. America is in some shit now. It’s not going to feel good. It’s not supposed to feel good. Pain is what makes us move, and God knows you need to move.

I’m sorry, but I did not come to comfort you. As Method Man said, I came to bring the pain.

I smashed my hand a few days ago, trying to kill a mosquito. It really hurt, for days. My right hand was so sore I had to stop using it, which was annoying. I wish I never felt pain at all.

But then I’d die.

If my hand didn’t hurt I would have kept using it. If I used it, I would fracture it. If I kept ignoring it, it could get infected. Without pain I could easily lose a hand. I could die. This is precisely what happens to people with congenital insensitivity to pain. It sounds great, but life without pain is a curse. These people injure themselves constantly. They die terribly young.

Pain is not God fucking with us. It is God helping us. Pain is good. Touch a stove. Your body doesn’t even ask. Pain is what keeps us alive.

Americans, I think, are unused to pain. I’m not saying that Americans don’t know personal pain — everyone has hemorrhoids and heartbreak — I’m just saying that national pain is something you usually inflict on other people. You are the ones who knock.

When I lived in Ohio the worst thing I ever experienced was a Snow Day. We’d watch TV to see if our school was closed (yay). Now you watch TV to see if your democracy is dead (boo). It’s painful, I know. I’d say it’s chickens coming home to roost (every day is Drone Day in Africa and the Middle East), but perhaps that’s not helpful right now. I mean, fuck your troops, but OK. Let’s talk about your feelings.

Your society collapsing feels bad. Fascism on the ballot feels bad. A stupid coup feels bad. Not using these words (collapse, fascism, coup) might make you feel better, but that’s not what you need to feel. You need to feel bad. You need to feel the fracture, fear the break, and protect your hand.

If your body politic cannot feel pain it will die. This is exactly what’s happening to America. Your nation is taking 250,000 deaths like it’s nothing. Not all of you, but by God, enough. There’s enough callousness to kill you all. You must feel this death. You must feel how wrong it is. Not feeling bad is precisely what’s getting you killed.

You owe this to the dead. They cannot feel anything anymore. They are gone. You must feel their loss. Not as numbers. Not even as names. Just feel the pain. I don’t know what you do after this, but I’m telling you, your country hasn’t even begun.

In the same way, if you do not feel Trump’s stupid coup as a blow to your own body, you are not feeling it right. Do not ignore the pain that your country is in. That pain is telling you something. The very neck of your democracy has been cut. Your elections. This is the jugular. If you don’t feel this, and if you do not resist it for what it is, you will lose your fucking head.

America’s head will be on the ground, living for a few seconds, bleeding out and muttering. It’s not a coup. It’s not a….

Do you know why I smashed that mosquito so hard? Last year a mosquito bit my baby girl and she ended up in hospital, with her organs leaking. She was fine, but fuck mosquitos for life. I will kill any mosquito I find in the house. I don’t care if I break my hand.

Life has taught me, through pain, and I am trying to tell you to listen. Most of the world has had these experiences. As Svetlana says in the Sopranos, “That’s the trouble with you Americans. You expect nothing bad ever to happen, when the rest of the world expects only bad to happen. And they’re not disappointed.” Only Americans think they are exceptional. You are not.

People tell me that what I write is scary, that it’s a bummer, that it’s a gut-punch. But it’s not what I write. It is what it is.

Things are bad. Why on Earth should you feel good?