As some of you know, and most likely don’t, this past week I went to my eight consecutive National Stuttering Conference. Since 2009 it’s ranked among the most special places and experiences in my life, and this year in Atlanta was no different. Except it was different. I’m gonna talk about the conference, but it was different in a sense because of the myriad of troubles currently facing our country, which I was somewhat successful in avoiding and forgetting.
The conference started Wednesday, with my arriving on Tuesday. The hotel looked awesome, but as the conference began, sad news came trickling in. Actually it’s not accurate to say it was trickling. More like hemorrhaging. Nearly instantly news came around that Clinton wouldn’t be indicted, which I mean, ok, no surprise there, but another valuable lesson in the study of “If you’re rich you’ll escape consequence.” This bothers me for a number of reasons, most of all that during this entire ordeal she’s gone to no effort to express anything other than unwavering innocence, which isn’t even remotely accurate. She’s a liar, and the FBI knows it; but let’s be frank, when the Attorney General is meeting with her husband while a major investigation is going on, you can clearly see this is going to be ignored and she’ll be fine.
This affects me because of the state of our country. One on side we have Clinton, who lies with every breath she takes, and on the other side we have a man that could literally ruin things for our country. Both are massively unappealing, Trump bothers me so immensely that I’m frightened. But therein lies the issue. I’m torn on the fact that yes, he’s a bigot and a sexist, that he married an immigrant while trying to ban anything that isn’t native born, and that he’s generally full of shit. But all of that bothers me less than what I’m about to say. He openly makes fun of and mocks people with special needs. I’ve pleaded with both of my parents, or felt as though I have, about how that directly affects not only people who struggle everyday because of their limitations, but my own struggles with stuttering. Despite this being blatantly obvious, they brush it aside and proclaim ‘Well he’s better than her.” I’m torn on this because I love my parents, but they come off as massive hypocrites in this section. For years they watched and shared in my struggle to become at peace with my stutter, and while they’ve taken up for me time and time again, I genuinely don’t understand the rationale of supporting someone who goes after someone with special needs, even if it’s minimal, because I’M A PERSON WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.This will likely cause a rift with them, but I must be honest to myself and express my disappointment in them, and in mankind as a whole for allowing our world to become so off the rails crazy.
Then we have the shootings, two in a matter of hours, both obviously including a black man and a white officer. The one is MN is clearly murder, but I’m more bothered by the fact that the Baton Rouge shooting happened where my sister and brother-in-law live. Thankfully they aren’t in Baton Rouge proper, but being only minutes away still has me concerned for their safety. Again I’m torn on this because I know police officers, and one in particular is among my favorite people I’ve ever met. Some of these men are good people, just trying to help, but obviously all of them aren’t. We’re all people just trying to do what we think is best. I can’t imagine losing this friend to a crime, as it seems almost certain less rational people are going to start killing cops as a payback of shorts. Let me also say that was one of my early thoughts after this new string of violence. Of course I don’t think police should be murdered, especially when it’s impossible to know whether they’re one of the good ones just trying to protect and serve. I’m worried for my friend, but I’m also worried at the rapid speed it sometimes appears that certain members of the Force approach things with the “shoot first; ask questions later” frame of mind. It reminds me very much of the speed at which Catholic Priests rape children and devout Catholics turn an eye and everyone just forgets until the next one, and the next one. These feelings played into my thoughts on the NSA conference because on Friday we as an organization were affected, in our safe place, by a mostly peaceful protest literally right outside our hotel. For a brief moment we weren’t shielded from the world by the love of people who struggle with stuttering everyday, but instead we’re witnessing the anger and resentment millions of people feel at the rate that people are being killed not only by cops, but by many other different types of hate. I feel like our country is on the precipice of unbridled chaos, and I’m genuinely concerned, but I have no idea how to fix it, or even stop it. I fear the worst is yet to come.
But, for now, I can try my best to focus on doing the best I can in my life, to be a good person, and to take the lessons I’ve learned from my friends at the National Stuttering Association, and remember to trust my feelings, my thoughts, to remember that I’m not alone, and of course, to always Stutter Beautifully.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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