Some people out there really hate us
On my walk past the crystalline Roaring Fork, along the muddy Colorado, I chugged out of Two Rivers Park near the walk-bridge and witnessed a fit, Nordic guy, maybe 25, punching the River Trail sign. He whacked it five times, hard, head-butted it once, grunting “You people!” with every jab. Then, he looked up, stabbed his finger at me and said, “You people are too weak to fight for your country!” I said, “What?” and stepped towards him, hand cocked over my ear, curious. “You stupid people can’t see your country’s being stolen, much less fight for it!” His blazing eyes bored directly into mine. They seemed clear.”I beg to differ,” I said, calmly. “Millions of Americans fight peaceably for our nation and the world, every single day, each in his or her own …” He cut me off, in English so well-enunciated I knew it was his second language: “Your government’s a pack of thieves, rich on the poor world’s blood! Your country’s a snakepit of unbelievers, coloreds of every shade, illegal aliens, Spanish-only speakers! Drug fiends, perverts, peaceniks …””Wait, just a minute! Pacifists aren’t weak, and Hispanics …”But he kept on, unhearing: “… rapists, wasters, corporate crooks, lawyers, bean counters, the dregs of the world! Men who think they’re women, and women who think they’re men: Abominations, stains on God’s Living People! They’re stealing you blind! We’ll pull them all down!” “Who’s ‘We’?” I wondered. He’d taken a prophet’s stance, but what a hateful pulpit! Since he’d stopped bashing the sign, though, I dove back in: “What you say might be true, but, why are you so angry, my friend? What hurt burns within you?” His eyes grew wary. “You’ve sand-blasted all I know,” I whispered. “I don’t believe we deserve it! Why abuse us and wallop our sign? It’s your park, too.” He didn’t want to listen. “You people ruin the sacred-holy World of God, old man, and don’t even care!” He’d gotten my blood up -“Old man,” indeed! – so I breathed it down. “It takes all kinds of tolerant people to make up ‘my’ America,” I said, “and most of us care, very deeply.” I reckon I’ve gotten feistier in my 60s. Earlier, I might’ve scuttled past long before this, but anger, now, cries for help. However, he broke our eye contact, shook his blond hair furiously, and returned to battering the sign.I’d been dismissed. Sometimes, it’s wise to read the signs: I backed away, with a “Namaste” and a “Peace” and a “God bless you,” and bridged the river, musing. “Why’d I witness that, I wonder? Such projection! Does he know he’s so fearful, to spew such hate? What a list! What a Nazi! Should I call the police?” When I looked back over my shoulder, he’d vanished.I forged on with my calorie burn. “He’s hurt himself worse than that sign. He’s flooded with pain, yet, even in his special madness,” I marveled, “I never felt he’d physically hurt me. He sought a connection, but, then, he withdrew.” The two rivers joined, west of the bridge, a confluence of clarity and silt, blue and red ribbons in a greater river.While a happy stream of humanity flows by me daily in this global playground, That One Angry Guy just won’t float away. Since most of us are on his list, it’s wise to know that some among us do revile us, beyond reason or cause. It’s the human condition. Hating them back makes the world even hotter, burning us double. Rather, I’d choose my heart-waters for protection. Peaceful ways bring healing change by leading me to pools of compassion, my greatest strength.While sign punching still mystifies me, one thing I know, gratefully, in my core: I sure wouldn’t choose to get stuck in the ooze of “his” Nightmare America; I’d rather be flowing midstream in “mine,” free in the current that pushes the rivers to mingle.Check out my blog at http://www.centerdoug.blogspot.com or contact me at email@example.com.
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That sideline parent is me, parading to the field with a foldable chair, carrying an iced-coffee, armed with a bag of band-aids and a salty vocabulary ready to slay the referee or opponent that meddles…