After reflecting on what I prepared for this past weekend’s event in Florida, I realized that there was an underlying theme of “safety in our country” tying together the major subjects that I chose to talk about; namely, involuntary psychiatric intervention, slavery, abortion, and climate change.

Why would anyone think that “feeling safe” is worth discussing?  How does feeling safe even relate to being safe?

To begin with, there is involuntary psychiatric intervention – something I have more experience with than is worth filling this essay with.  For those unfamiliar, this includes practices such as being locked in a mental institute, being forcibly drugged, and/or being forcibly electroshocked.

To be blunt: I don’t feel safe from involuntary psychiatric practices in any state in these United States.  It is particularly concerning to me that the laws that mandate these practices are state laws, not federal laws, which means that every single state in this country decided to lock up and harm people like me.

At face value, it would appear as if the states are truly united in their position on forced psychiatric treatment.  Whether or not the people are united on this policy is a different matter.

I’ve expressed before that I don’t feel like I belong anywhere in this country – how could I possibly when every state’s government has decided that I don’t belong?

Please understand that this feeling of not belonging is driven by a real fear.  That feeling of fear (or even “terror”) has an effect on nearly every aspect of my life, regardless of which state I am in (including the District of Columbia).

Yet, how “real” is the threat to me?  Many around me, including doctors, dismiss my fear as being “paranoia” or “delusion” – just a “symptom” of my alleged mental illness.

I could dismiss my fears as well, and have for many years, after all, I have the ability to hide.

If one must hide in order to be safe, are they safe?

Quickly moving on to another threat I live with fear of in America: slavery.

For the obvious reason of my skin color, it seems inappropriate or possibly even disrespectful for me to speak about slavery.  Forgive me for stepping out of line and simply repeating the actual words of our 13th amendment to acknowledge that slavery was never eliminated from our country, despite what we may teach our children or even believe ourselves:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United Sates, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Are we all safe from slavery then?  The answer is an unwavering and unsettling “no.”

You may think, “just don’t get convicted of a crime, dumbfuck,” and I could nod, and say, “sure, thanks for the suggestion.”  Rather than expend the energy arguing with you, I may just keep to myself that I know that you are not acknowledging the reality that slavery was never abolished, you’re simply dismissing my concern by suggesting how I can avoid becoming a slave.  It hardly even seems worth the energy to ask you to consider the non-zero impact that creating economic incentives to keep our prisons full has on our criminal justice system, or even that, should an individual be in a position where there only means of survival is to break a law that said actions may be justifiable, ultimately, none of these arguments changes that reality that slavery still exists in our country, even if it is confined to our prisons.

How do you answer the question in 2023: “Are we safe from slavery in the United States?”

Whether you feel we are safe or not, you cannot deny that we’d be safer from slavery if we had a constitutional amendment that actually abolished slavery – which we do not have – thus, the threat is real.

Like slavery, abortion is a subject that some may feel I don’t have any right to speak about, yet, I can state honestly that I myself am not safe from our abortion laws.

How so?

I’m not safe from the devastation that would occur to me should the law dictate that the love of my life be required to die in order to preserve the life of an unborn child whom I simply don’t have it in my capacity to love as much as the woman giving birth to them.  Even I, a man, am not safe from our abortion laws (nor, obviously, is the mother of said child).

As is expressed more eloquently in “Punitive Damage”:

what could be so special about new human beings / to sacrifice the one you love for one that’s not yet breathing

The last threat to mention in this essay is climate change.

Are we safe in this country from the impact humans have on our environment?

I would argue we’re not – and if you disagree that humans have an impact on our environment – I can simply state or confess that I myself have a non-zero impact on our environment, making it less safe for others, including you – I’m guilty of this, and I’m not sure there’s any human alive who can claim they don’t have a net-negative impact on our environment.  The best we can ever do is to essentially minimize our impact below the threshold that allows for sustainability.

I’m not a perfect person and nobody is, perhaps a difficult and even painful truth to accept.

For those resistant to accepting we have an impact on environment, look no further than the destruction we collectively caused to the o-zone layer, as well as to the reality that humans ultimately repaired the o-zone layer – how can you deny our relationship with nature in the face of such recent history?

You may feel like it’s a waste of words to write or speak about safety, or that nobody is “owed” safety on earth, and I would partly agree with you – nobody is really “owed” anything at all.

That being said, the Oath of Office the President of the United States takes states:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

Though this Oath states the President’s duty is to defend the Constitution, I would argue that this duty is extended to also defend the “citizens of this country,” a responsibility that I feel undeniably exists within the President’s duties as Commander in Chief.

(It’s worth noting that the Oath of Office comes directly from the Constitution itself, see Article II, Section 1, Clause 8)

I suppose the only way to end this essay is to simply ask, do you feel that the President has a duty to defend the citizens of this country, to defend the Constitution, or both?

If you believe the duty is only to defend the Constitution, your perspective may be compelled to change should there be a constitutional amendment to include the citizens themselves as being worthy of defense.

Let me close by addressing the concern that these statements imply I don’t respect the Constitution, which is not necessarily the case.  I’m simply acknowledging that the Constitution is a living tool that can be adapted, as it was intended, to support our country – to defend it is to defend it as written, as well as to defend the preservation of the integrity of the inherently dynamic nature of the tool itself.

I also want to acknowledge the reality that there are more threats to one’s safety in the United States than involuntary psychiatric practices, slavery, abortion, and climate change – subjects like crime, disease, homelessness, hunger, and military defense fall outside the scope of this particular essay, though they are not to be forgotten.