30. Image is Everything

Photo credit: Alyson McClaran Denver, CO

Dear lady in the expensive car, yelling at the nurse who is blocking her way,

Image is everything in this day and age.  This picture, and many more captured during this insane moment in Denver, Colorado are out there for the whole world to see.  Literally.  I live in Italy, although I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado.  Its where I’m from and I love it.  All the way over here in Italy I see you, screaming woman.  Do you understand what the image you chose to portray to the world says about you?  Let’s take a look.

I don’t know anything about you.  You could be a lawyer, a social worker, a crackhead, or anything else in our existing universe of humanity.   I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and not lay judgement on what I think may or may not make you a contributor to our greater, human society.  

You’re wearing a shirt that says USA on it as if it gives you a pass to express your rage.  The right to free speech does, in fact protect your voice.  Seatbelts are also a form of protection and as far as I know they are mandatory.  

As you lean out of the window of your needlessly overweight, you probably consider yourself a patriot.  I can’t really find an argument to support whether you are or aren’t a patriot, but who’s freedom are you actually screaming for from the comfort of your SUV?  It’s probably your own and not the nurse’s standing in front of your car.  Justice for all?  What about freedom from a virus that has beset the entirety of humanity?  Just how much of your freedom has been taken from you?   Judging by this picture I can surmise that you seem to be rather free, riding in your car, standing out the window and screaming insults at a person who’s entire job it is to help fellow humans. Your right to publicly spew callous, misdirected hatred seems to be fully intact here in this picture.  

Is it the government that you’re scared of or is it the virus?  Who’s taking your freedom, the government, or the virus?  Or is it that nurse?  What we see here is you, a woman raging on the streets as if she expects both the Governor of Colorado and coronavirus itself to sit idly, listen, and finally bow to her will.  Scientific evidence is currently in opposition to all of your actions on display, but we can all see that science is not what drives you.  

Your sign reads “Land of the Free”. I know that you did not come up with that slogan.  It’s part of the National Anthem.  I wonder, what do you think it means?  I wonder, how you define freedom?  Is there a limit to your freedom?  What about the freedom of the nurse in the picture?  Where does your freedom end and his begin?  These questions are difficult, and there are no right answers, but you require answers, especially the ones that you want to hear.  

You’re white.  That’s not your fault, but it is your privilege.  It’s not that shirt that’s the real pass. It’s your skin color that allows you to stand out of the window of your scream at the world.  The freedom you experience is not the same freedom that all Americans experience.  Another inference that I can make about you from your skin color is that your family is not originally American.  Your heritage is European and one day, long ago someone in your family ventured to the “Land of the free”.  More likely than not, they were insulted by people who felt entitled.  Sound familiar?

You’re not the only one suffering, and given what we can all see in the picture, your suffering is only relative to to what others are experiencing.  In fact, the degree of everyone’s suffering is always relative.  Do you understand what I just said in that last sentence?  

I have to admit something though. You and I probably have more in common that either of us would like to admit. Maybe you’re worried about your job?  Maybe you lost your job?  You need to scream.  So do I.  I’m worried about my job too.  You probably assume that since I moved to another country that I am a traitor and could never attain a level of patriotism like your own.  The reality is that I have dedicated a career’s work to creating educational experiences for Americans of all races, ages, and political beliefs here in Italy.  I do my best to uphold the integrity of my family, city, and nation abroad.   I am aware that if I go around screaming at everyone, I will be labeled as a belligerent American from Denver.   You and I, both from Denver. Both caught in a situation that neither of us saw coming nor wanted. I am forced to think about the image that I show the world.  This is now the image that the world has to judge you.  

Do you know that there’s video of this every scene in the picture?  Indeed there is, and we can all hear you tell the nurse in front of your car to “go back to China”.  Again, I don’t know who you are and I don’t know anything about you, but the video does even less than the picture to convince me that you’re a thoughtful human being.  

Do you want someone to listen to you?  Here’s a tip.  Think about the image that you portray. Good luck.

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