Updated: Nov 27, 2018
The other day I was driving back from the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. As I cruised up the road heading into my little Port Orchard, Washington town I saw an Eagle sitting on one of the standing water post. Now, you would think being a 10-year Navy Reservist I would know what that water post is actually called, but, alas, I do not, so we will just leave it at calling it a water post. Anyway, after snapping a few pictures of the Eagle I got ready to continue on my journey home. Even though I was ready to go, I, in fact, didn't leave because something else caught my attention. It was one of the aircraft carriers at the shipyard across the water. I snapped a picture of it. In fact, I snapped this picture of it. As I stared at the big carrier I started thinking
about a few things that I needed to talk about. In fact, I hadn't realized that a lot of my conversations lately have been around the things I am going to talk about in this blog. Before I go into all that, as I tend to say, follow me down the rabbit trail a little.
The aircraft carrier made me think of my military service. If you are new to my writings you may not know that I am a retired 22-year veteran of the Air Force (active), Navy (reserves) and Army (joint-service). I proudly wore many uniforms. My garage, like those of many retired veterans, looks like a military surplus store with all the stuff I have been issued. I have deployed and been all over the world wearing uniforms of the three branches I served. I've come a long way from being a knucklehead from Los Angeles to retired veteran and motivational speaker. It is honestly crazy to even think about the many transitions I have made in my life and career. I think about it all the time. Why did I serve? What did it do? Where is it all going to go? I think about it. And now this carrier that, if memory serves me correctly, is not an active one sits imposingly across the water from me. It makes me think.
In that moment I thought about it again but this time it (the thoughts) were different than normal. This time I pictured the movie A Few Good Men where Lance Corporal Dawson says to Private Downey after the verdict, "... We were supposed to fight for people who couldn't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy." I sit in my truck and the words run through my mind again. "We were suppose to fight for Willy." But I am not thinking of a young Marine tragically killed because of a Code Red ordered by the Commanding Officer. That is a movie. This is life. I'm thinking about my country. I'm thinking about caravans of migrants pushing to a border. I'm thinking of men and women in impoverished countries fighting for survival and the basics of life. I'm thinking of a president who divides a nation with every waking breath. I'm thinking of a nation that begs for civil war because fighting for what "I want" is more important than finding what "we need." Why am I thinking of a line in a movie and all this? Because I am thinking.
As my truck gets up to speed in traffic and I continue on towards home it hits me. I don't hate them. What? I don't hate them. I've NEVER hated them. You see the military, national pride, ethnic pride, social pride and so on and so on teaches us to go to battle against our enemies, which is a gift-wrapped way of saying "different." That is our enemy, those who are different, believe differently, live differently, look differently and so on. We must attack them and defend who we are and what we value most. We must send the troops. We must, like this picture I took on a carrier,
launch the jets and attack with extreme force and prejudice. But I don't hate them. Yet, when I wore a uniform I would do what I had to do for my brothers- and sisters-in-arms, for my country and for my Constitution. But I don't hate them. As I drove I couldn't wrap my head around the echoing words now in my mind. Even writing this blog I find it hard to put full finger on why I kept thinking the words.
I. Don't. Hate. Them.
What I realized, and the point of this blog, is that people hate for no other reason than they are afraid. We hate what is not like us. We hate what does not follow the path we follow. We hate that someone else supports a God, a foundation or a teaching that differs from our own. We hate. We keep hating. It is time to look at it differently. It is time for us to grow not as one group, one country, one anything other than one humanity. It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts now.
I don't hate you because you believe something I do not. I hate when we can't sit and understand others' points of view. I hate when we don't listen to learn and we don't speak to share our stories with one another.
I don't hate the racist for being racist. I feel sorrow for them because they don't understand that racism is about personal fear not strength. The group full of men and women who are afraid of being overtaken by someone else is simply scared of an uncertain future. I don't hate them for not understanding that strength doesn't come from segregation but from integration.
I don't hate women for wanting equal pay or fair treatment. I don't hate the women who bash men as if we all are horrible people who should be slaughtered or put in some confinement until we are needed like some old fire extinguisher with a sign "break glass in case of emergency." I hate the fact that so many people can be hypocritical when it comes to wanting equality and wanting special treatment for being, just that, a woman. I don't hate women for standing up for balance.
I don't hate the parent who doesn't control his/her kid(s). I hate the fact that we, as society and in general, have devalued the importance of parenting with both love and discipline while giving value to words like "spectrum" and "incapable" to our kids' actions. Maybe the parent doesn't have the tools or the desire. Maybe the kid is special needs, actually has special needs, not simply labeled it for convenience, and is not capable of self-control. Either way, I don't know the story and I can't hate them.
I don't hate the President of the United States even if I know that he could care less about me and what matters to me. I don't hate the many who support him who tout "four more years" and celebrate his tweets of hate as if they aren't directed at people like myself. I don't hate him for being who he is and what he has always been. I hate that all his rhetoric helped dredge the swamp, not the political one, mind you, and brought out all these hate and counter-hate groups who wish to do nothing more than destroy what we have in this country. I don't hate him for wanting to Make America Great Again. I hate that he and those who follow that line actually believe that we were great before simply because one group/section had all the power, control and influence. We weren't great when our own people were suffering while a select few reaped all the rewards.
I don't hate police officers because they dare to wear a uniform and have to deal with the ramifications from the actions of those in uniform who would abuse their power and authority. I hate a system that would have a man caught raping a girl getting 6 months probation because he shouldn't "ruin his life" over one mistake because he is a rich, white male (well, his daddy is anyway), yet a minority would get 20 years with less evidence. I hate that someone just read that and believes it isn't true. I hate that we have officers shooting and killing unarmed black men at a scary clip. I don't hate the officers. The job is hard, damn near impossible, and decisions are made in a split second. I hate that we don't have transparency in our judicial system. I hate that we don't have real investigations into officer-involved shootings and that negligence isn't prosecuted like it would be if it were a military person doing the same thing. Even so, I don't hate the MEN and WOMEN (Yes, they are people.) in uniform.
I don't hate the homosexual person because he/she finds their heart in the arms of someone of the same sex. I don't hate the religious people who come to my door who wish to tell me about the power of Jesus. I don't hate them. I could go on and on but the truth is I don't hate them. I don't hate any of them.
Yes, I can hate. I have the ability. Hell, I am more than capable, willing and able to hate..... the individual for doing something against me personally. Individuals do not define a group. Not every black young man is in a gang or has 10 babies by 8 women. Not every white police officer is a racist hoping to just hurt the first black that mouths off to them. Not every President Trump supporter is a racist, sexist, etc., etc., etc. person just as not every Liberal is some form of welfare-check-giving hippie. Not every Christian (or religious type) is a hypocrite who really doesn't know his/her God. Not every Satanist is some deviant druggy looking to sacrifice a pure virgin to bring about the end of days for his/her Dark Lord. (For the record, I'm pretty sure that last one only happens in movies.) Again, I could go on and on and on and on but you probably get the point.
(Note: I got tired and stopped at that point. It was midnight and I decided to go to bed. Now, I am up to finish this blog 6 hours later.)
The truth is this, life is short. We have only so many breaths, so many thoughts, so many memories to be made before we can no longer do any of it. We should not waste it fueling hate which doesn't give back to us.
I grew up hating people and things I did not know. I grew up thinking violence would solve my problems. I grew up wanting to hurt those who hurt me. I grew up wishing this shitty little life would either be over or get better. I grew up not realizing that I was not growing up fully. Why? Because I didn't hate all the time. In fact, more often than not I grew up laughing. I grew up being loved. I grew up having people check on me and make sure I was doing the right thing. I grew up with people from all races and backgrounds treating me like I belonged. Hindsight taught me to see that I was happy when I stopped hating. Essentially, I grew up.
We are all human. We all want what we think is best for first ourselves, then our families, then our friends, then our communities, then our countries, then our allies, and finally the rest of the world. We are all human. We all have needs. We all want the basics of life. We need to stop seeing the "group" as if it is the "individual" because the group can be chaos. The individual can simply be caught in the chaos. Help the individual and we help the world. Help ourselves only and we divide it. I don't hate you. I hope that we can learn that it (hate) serves no purpose to us.
I think of the carrier, the war machine, the might of the US Navy. I think about the plane taking off to bomb a target. I think about the men and women who I would have stood next to to go into battle. I think about doing what I had to do so that I could get home to my family and friends. I think about the people who will die on both sides of the battle. I think of the "people" of every shade, belief, sexuality, intellect and so on that will die and it brings me to this wish.
I wish them well. I wish them peace. I wish their lives didn't become a number associated with what humans seem to crave which is fighting. I wish those who survive the battle healing. I wish the real stories would be told. I wish we shared the heroic acts of kindness instead of the horrific acts of hate. I wish we learned to not hate them. I wish we learned not to hate ourselves. I wish...
I'll leave with this thought:
I pray that when the last breath has hit my lips and the light of day has turned black,
I will have loved a thousand times more than I hated if I get a chance to look back,
That I am remembered for compassion, understanding and a helping hand,
That I rose above the hate and the fear that cripples the heart of man,
And if we have ever crossed paths and got the pleasure to talk for awhile,
I hope that we shared our stories to understand each other and left with a smile,
I pray that we don't destroy what we have by chasing what we believe we need,
And that I am a part of building us ALL up because that, in the end, is what reflects me!
Cheers my friends. I don't hate you! Now, tell me what makes you happy?