God Bless You, America

DECEMBER 2016

I’m having trouble falling asleep these days. I suppose we all are. I feel like everyone’s telling me I should be scared and, well, it’s working.

At the end of the day I get into bed and I catch myself staring at my door across the room for a long time. I’ll try to stop but even if I look away I can feel myself waiting. Listening. They’re right outside the door, I’m sure. I feel like they’re going to get me in my sleep, like, I’ll wake up to some Nazi standing over me with a crusader’s crucifix and whisper “we did it to your grandaddy, now we’re gonna do it to you.”

If I were younger, I think I’d be fueled by this. I think younger me might have gotten real political, real snarky, and that I would have tried to read all the articles from all the sources and been the guy who says “well I’ve read what the other side has to say and I can say with certainty that they’re still wrong.” I’d be that asshole.

But I’m not that young anymore and, to be honest, I don’t have the energy. I’d rather just focus on finding a way to fall asleep better. Anything to plug my ears, to soften the banging of drums and the knock of swords on my door. I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to convince anyone of anything. I just want to stop feeling like it’s the end of the world. Because even if it is, even if it really is the end of the world and existence as we know it, there’s no way I could ever let myself face this ending as alone and scared as I feel now. This is too cowardly a way to go out. I can’t face the ending knowing fear as my last emotion.

And I suppose that’s just the thing of it. If there’s no atheists in foxholes then everyone must be devout these days and I’ve decided that I have faith. I refuse to believe that humanity is so base that it has all led to this nadir in human history. No, life has always been difficult and it has always been a struggle but we overcome it. We persevere. We, as humanity, always have, and we have to continue. The winning doesn’t come from a single solution, it’s always come from the basics, it’s always come from facing our own fears, our own insecurities, and then working to better ourselves.

I have never been prouder to be American than I have working on this issue of Baphash’s Quarterly. Everyone else I know today hears a sneeze and screams about atrocity yet these artists and authors have humbled me. Each, in her own way, faced her own fears, loves, and pain on these pages. The last few weeks, as the issue has been completed and prepared for publication, I found myself astounded again and again by the quiet self-reflection each contributor was able to not only find, but share. 

“Here, in this supreme menace to the will, there approaches a redeeming, healing enchantress – art. She alone can turn these thoughts of repulsion at the horror and absurdity of existence into ideas compatible with life: these are the sublime.”

Nietzsche said these words. The great nihilist who saw the world as an abyss of monsters he, too, turned to art. He found beauty in the miniscule. America is sneezing and it will be those with the temperament to explore within their own psyche who will help us find the way forward. Each and every one of these artists have done this and it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with them during such difficult times. I thank them for their incredible efforts and I thank you for sharing in their work now.

God bless you, America.

Michael Harris
Editor-in-Chief
Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly

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