Ah, you protest too much, the therapist said, scribbling into his yellow pad. You’re filled with irrational rage over the injustices of the world.
He told me I needed to work on my people skills, then leaned back in his chair and twitched his mustache—a slight satisfied smile. I watched him closely, studying him. Sizing him up.
An hour before I met with him, I was reading poetic accounts of Vietnamese Napalm victims—skin hanging from muscle like sheets of silken cloth. Poor frightened orphaned babies sobbing. Horror.
I study The Vietnam War. I study it because it changed the course of my life before I was born, before my mother ever met my father. I study America’s Vietnam War, and the lies that started it—the volumes of lies that elite men with powerful titles conjured in backroom meetings, on fucking golf courses.
It was men like Lyndon Johnson and Robert S. McNamara, those arrogant bastards and sons of unwanted whores, who sent my poorly educated, blue collar father to colonize rice farmers by force. I don’t believe in Hell, but I hope those two men are being cremated in it.
I study this war, this American Vietnam invasion, as I watch another generation of fathers and mothers and families with little children being ravaged—still—this time by multiple wars.
Multiple Wars! I can’t even get my head around it most of the time. And I don’t believe anything Obama says about winding things down. He’s a politician; politicians are liars.
So, I sit in the mental health clinic every other week. I talk to my social worker. I get my antidepressants and sleep aides from a nurse—my “prescriber”—instead of a doctor. Only rich people get to see the psychiatrists anymore.
I go home. I study. I write. I read the news for hours. I read about poor people being beaten down by wealthy assholes, over and over and over. I read about oily disasters and resources dwindling, and wall street bankers, and the war, and the other wars. These wars will last for generations. And I have nieces and nephews. Yes, I worry for the future. Yes, I worry for my family. And it’s appropriate.
So, when this therapist, counselor, whatever he is, called me an angry man, I leaned in close and looked into his puffy eyes.
“Let’s get one thing straight right now, my friend,” I slightly raised my voice, “I’m not an angry man. I’m outraged. There’s a difference.”