Working for the knife

Amanda Sellers, Staff Writer

On May 24, 2022, at about 11:15 a.m., I was sitting in a courtroom with about 50 other people, being lectured by a county judge on the privilege of being able to participate in our government to delegate fair justice through the means of a jury summons. “You should be excited to be here. No one else on the planet gets to experience this. This is the work of a just system.” Not 100 miles away, 19 children and two teachers were massacred in a place that is supposed to be safe. 

The judge was right. No one else on this Earth gets to experience the agony of reading about mass shootings in elementary schools. Not one other country gets to sit idly while our government, local and national, does nothing in the face of the massacre of its own citizens. Of course, we should be proud of ourselves. 

According to Texas law, as of September 1, 2021, HB 1927 has removed the requirement to have a license to carry in order to carry a handgun. To carry a handgun, you must be at least 21 years of age. But Texas law does not specifically put restrictions on who can carry or buy a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun. This includes assault rifles, a “rapid-fire, magazine-fed rifle designed for military use” like the one used in the slaughter of children on Tuesday in Uvalde, TX.  

There can be no reprieve from this endless pattern of absurd choices made by our government. Our lives and the lives of our children are at the mercy of politicians’ wallets. The majority of those who support these kinds of asinine law changes are bribed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to follow through on lax, senseless gun control policy. According to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit organization dedicated to tracking money in U.S. politics, United States Republican representatives and senators have all collectively accepted nearly five million dollars in “donations” from the NRA since 2012 compared to Democrats’ $210,291. Sen.Ted Cruz has single-handedly accepted $176,284 from the NRA since his first run for office in 2012

But I cannot say that anyone is surprised.

I am not writing to tell you about how voting, canvassing and participating in your local government will change things. I am sure there are a million other articles out there telling you exactly how you can change the world around you. I write because things are getting worse all the time and it seems as though they will never get better. 

My rent goes up almost 20% this next month. Gas is close to $5 right now as a result of stagnating oil production, price gouging and foreign Russian oil being sanctioned. By the time this is published, it will probably be more. I am $48 dollars overdrawn in my bank account and have 89% revolving utilization right now on the one credit card I managed to qualify for. I will work more than 50 hours this week and will still not make enough to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Tuition will post in July and it will be another $10,000. I eat one meal a day and hope the Red Bull that I am saving for later will fill my stomach enough to skip dinner again. CNBC and Washington Post both predict a hard-hitting recession in Q4 of 2022; they are just waiting for something to collapse.

I am not alone in any of this. This is standard, this is a universal experience for many people right now. When does it end? What am I struggling for? When do we all stop working just to die?

There are some of you, already sneering at this self-deprecating drivel, but the reality of it is, that life is devastating right now, and it is really bleak. Even with the privileges I am afforded, living in a first-world country, with shoes on my feet and a bed to sleep in, it is insane. I could not imagine navigating the quality of life in a third-world country right now. 

People get murdered in classrooms and grocery stores. Tenants get evicted from homes and ousted onto the streets in thousands, every day. Politicians tweet and post Instagram stories about restricting my access to safe women’s healthcare like it is a fun little meme. And I am supposed to drive back and forth to work and do my silly little tasks like absolutely nothing is wrong? I am supposed to pretend that none of this affects me at all and that we should just accept the hard realities of life? I am supposed to be proud of this country and be “excited” to participate in society? 

I wish I had something more inspiring to tell you; that there are moments in life that are worth it. That there is hope at the end of this long, lightless tunnel. That we must all stick together and help each other out when we can and try to compensate for a society that will never allow you to exist without utility. That there must be absolution and respite at some point. But I cannot. 

I cannot be angry anymore. I can only give up. “This is the work of a just system.”