Maybe it's because we caught empire fever. That could be the reason we hold our hands over our hearts for the pledge of allegiance and "The Star-Spangled Banner": because that's what the Romans did as well when they did their salute. That could be why we've tried to hold onto all these US territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: because that's what our "ex-benefactors," the British, did right up until the end of World War II. That could be a subconscious reason we were so against the Germans and why we still have issues with the Russians: because we've bullshitted ourselves into thinking that because we're "good" and "righteous" and "fight for freedom," we're the only ones allowed to pursue international land holdings (aka, to just bully in and declare some random place is "American-held land"). That last example is what we've done with our "word of mouth," and we'll talk about that a little more later. I'll be honest: that word of mouth hasn't held well. That only works now inside our own country. The rest of the world is on to us—as the movies love to say, "The jig is up, Sharky!" We can't play that conquest-disguised-as-liberation card anymore. We used to be the journeymen. Now we're the bogeymen.Is that our legacy, our lot in this life? Were we doomed to become the very thing we claimed to be fighting against? Sometimes I wonder if the United States from the 1900s had a better idea of what needed to be done. Even Woodrow Wilson couldn't keep us out of the Great War, but at least at first we were adamant about staying out of foreign conflict. Isolationism doesn't solve all the problems. We are, in fact, a large part of a huge global community, and we do need to have a presence in it. People look to us for answers, so getting involved is only natural. We can't stay out of everything. However, we do need to pay a little more attention to what's on our side of the fence. By doing that, I do not mean "building a fucking wall" or deporting immigrants from countries that present no threat whatsoever. I mean setting up programs specifically designed to decelerate drug use and unemployment in lower-income cities, counties, and states. I mean using funds for good, not bad. I can already hear the conservatives out there bitching that "tax money can't go to pay for that."
This country has a crazy up-and-down love affair with taking massive shits in other people's backyards.
Anyway, thank God, there's people like Trudeau keeping watch on the crazy downstairs neighbor. Sometimes all you need to do to keep dumb shit in check is have a dude who looks like he could rip your fucking head off in a fight. It doesn't hurt that Trudeau's easy on the eyes, too. I figure if he comes to a gig and I happen to have my Canadian Teen Beat with him on the cover, he'll sign it. I might even have a shot, you know? I'd climb that man like a water tower in a city on fire. I feel like the more I write here, the more you're all getting uncomfortable with the thought of me actually daydreaming about the prime minister of Canada. That's not my fault; that's your fault. I'm comfortable enough to imagine myself riding on the back of a jet ski with Justin Trudeau, smiling and happy, water cascading all around us, both slightly oily from the Coppertone we generously applied to each other's…OK, maybe I am putting a little too much thought into this whole "I Heart Trudeau" scenario, but it's only because he hasn't replied to me on Twitter. As soon as he replies to me on Twitter, I'll be able to move on. I mean, I knit him a sweater and fucking everything! What does a guy have to do to get noticed by the head of a major country's government these days? Pose nude? Well, I'm not doing that…again…
But it also showed me that no matter the outrage, no matter the fallout, and no matter the level of controversy, these politicians walked.
Lots of times our very presence in another country or our association with their government makes them a target.
I've had a philosophy in my life that has kept me on the straight and narrow for the last few years. Sure, it took me a few years and a whole lot of egotistical bullshit to figure it out, but once I did, I never forgot it: It only takes a few extra seconds to be nice to someone as opposed to being a screaming cock right out of the gate. You're not losing anything, and in the right situation, you're also making someone's life by being nice. That person will spread that energy as long as it lasts, and the people they spread it to do the same, and so on and so forth, until your catalyst of goodness has tapped the pressure valves on real life and given people a temporary respite from the permanent pain in the ass that can be Life In Progress. To me there's no better reason to be that way than that right there. Some people get up in the morning, their experience is shit wall-to-wall, and then they go to bed with the taste of turds on their breath, no matter how many times they brush their teeth. The absolute bastard of it all is that they'll have to run that shit-stained gamut again when they wake up in the morning. So why not give them a break or make their day with some kindness, some coolness, a few extra seconds for a photo and some conversation? It's a good way to be—it doesn't always pay off, but it's not always about us, is it? Either way, the motivation is coming from a good place, and the afterglow can shine on crazy diamonds for a very long time if you do it right.I feel like if America had that same mindset, we wouldn't be the Big, Bad Global Bully to a lot of nations. No nation is perfect, of course, but when you're the country who purports to have the most freedom and the most happiness, then you go setting fires and kicking over cans in other people's countries, that's what we call in the Taylor household a "dick move, Banner." There are a lot of nations who have us completely dialed and never ask us for a fucking thing because they know the tit-for-tat comes with a heavy bill, plus gratuity, plus interest, plus, plus, plus. We're the savages, the Vikings, the Huns, and the hoard on its way to Ford Theater. We are not so much the heroes of every story, but we're not the villain in each story either. It's complicated to say the least. It's like tiptoeing through minefields where even if you step on a landmine, they don't all kill you, some just pelt you with candy. But you don't know that, and you genuinely don't know which one is which. So proceed with caution, and glory comes with a nice "hallelujah" when you don't blow the shit out of yourself.Internationally, we're basically a Benny Hill skit, for fuck's sake. We're in a red-white-and-blue bikini, chasing all the other girls around because when we go down, we're taking everyone with us.When I was walking the paths at Dachau, none of that was on my mind. I wasn't thinking about American mistakes or how the West was won. I was paying my respects to those who died for fascist, racist, hateful, horrible reasons. I was listening to the silence left behind in the wake of such an atrocity. I was letting that lesson sink in before feeling something as out of place as pride that the armed forces of the United States of America had something to do with liberating the survivors of this catastrophe. There was a fleeting thought about it, but I pushed it aside—it wouldn't have been right to feel that in that moment. I waited until I'd left to try to comprehend the dichotomy between the America that was, the America that is, and, worse yet, the America that certain leaders would have if given the opportunity. Today that thought process comes floating back across the stormy waters of my mind as I write this book, looking for the right wave, the perfect break, the point at which I should paddle out and surrender to the sea and all its metaphors for chaos theory. If you've ever wanted a more beautiful sense of poetry for what's happening in America today, look no further than our oceans. Yes, swirling below the surface is a world also made up of systems and routines, of life and all the things that come with life. Even if you find your place among it all, you could still be eaten alive in the blink of an eye.When the curtain is pulled on this country, I don't want its legacy to be that of a roving predator in the deep blue sea. I want it to be more like the blue whale, making its way through the darkness, coming out to grab a breath every once in a while, but mainly doing its own thing, because anything and everything else is none of its business. It merely wants to live. Hopefully it breeds and passes life on to its children, but there's no guarantee of anything else. We must find a way to be that whale: concentrating more on our own place in the world and less on what others have gotten themselves into. Sometimes you have to let everyone else fail. But when you do, there's a very good chance that those same people will in fact win from losing. You have to come up off the mat sometimes to secure that knockout punch. Babies don't walk because we want them to, and they generally don't walk if we keep helping them all the time. They have to crawl, then stagger, then fall and cry, and then eventually climb to their feet under the strength of their own legs and take those first few faltering steps that will inevitably lead to walking, then running, then standing on their own. We must allow the world to do that. We can't afford the resentment that comes with holding their hands all the time and not allowing others to figure it out for themselves. Until we do that, we will not truly be a superpower or even a global leader. We'll simply become that asshole neighbor no one likes, who never minds their own business, constantly meddles in affairs that aren't their own, and by the end of the sitcom has been replaced with a less-aggravating actor or actress.Follow Corey Taylor on Twitter.
Internationally, we're basically a Benny Hill skit, for fuck's sake.