A Would-Be Revolutionary Walks into a Library

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Making notes at the Mesa public library, sitting at one of the rectangle desks. A large, old white guy comes in, and walks towards the tables. He approaches another gentleman on my left, who’s reading a book.

“Hotter than hell,” says the large guy. He’s right, even though it’s only a 103 out there. Without saying anything else, he tells the man: “Grab an AR-15, start shooting some people.”

I put my pen down, grab my phone, open up the camera. The large guy walks to the newspapers, comes back with one of them. Although I can’t see which paper, he alludes to the recent Supreme Court ruling, which shuts down the argument that removing homeless people is “cruel and unusual.” Cities can now start punishing people who sleep on the streets and sidewalks.

I’m recording. “What are you supposed to do?” he asks, “How do you stay alive? Get an AR-15, start shooting some ass. That’s what’s getting ready to happen.”

He tells his audience – whosever in the library that he doesn’t mind listening – that he’s “real good” at such forecasting. This is because of his Celtic blood, he assures. “It’s going to happen. Damn close. We’ll see blood out here.” His friend is responding, but I can’t make it out.

I turn off the camera, opt for some notetaking. The homeless revolutionary asks his friend if he saw the presidential debate. “It was a joke. Biden doesn’t even know where he is.” His friend asks if it’s possible that China and Russia will ever one day team up to attack us. Homeless revolutionary mumbles something, then says they’re “pushing the American poor too far.” Both express doubts that Trump would do anything helpful. The homeless revolutionary’s voice gets quieter. He’s made his point. I wait a couple minutes before packing up my stuff.

The despair and anger these men showed is representative. American’s time as a nation is over with, and older generations acknowledge it with agonizing tones. Half of the younger generation tries to adapt, while the other half is too distracted to take notice. Rampant homelessness, what we can see in every major city, if only we unglued our eyes from the screen, is an unsubtle sign of this reality.

We’re all dealing with it in our own ways. Many are voting. Others are trying to save money. Plenty are attempting to relocate. And some are talking openly about violence, revolution, and civil war.

I didn’t interject myself into the conversation, and so I don’t know what he hoped to accomplish with such terrorism. Maybe he thought mowing down some politicians would encourage the Supreme Court to reverse their decision and thus allow him to sleep anywhere he damn well pleases.

Doubt that would do it. The only thing that would, is more people joining him on those sidewalks. Just need another economic collapse, a few more digits added to the debt, or even a new war.

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KM Patten

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