We played cowboys and indians …a lot. Admittedly, I liked both costumes. When you’re 5 or 6, that cool, indian head dress is very exotic looking and the tomahawk that comes with it feels good to wield. I dug it.
But when the fantasy turns to riding into the west without provisions, you need the imaginary saddle bags and six shooter. You need boots and a hat for protection. After all, you never know when you’re going to run into bandits or train robbers. So, I identified as the cowboy more often than not. And I cheered for them in the movies fed to me by Hollywood. The Dallas Cowboys even became my favorite football team. And I loved watching them beat those pesky Redskins.
But then something interesting happened. When I was 10, I became best friends with a guy who was dark skinned, with high check bones. We were thick as thieves (no offense to thieves) …instant buddies. In fact, we’re buddies to this very day.
But our cowboy and indian conversations took a turn. He was full blooded native American, from the Lumbe tribe. Suddenly, my view of “indians” changed. This was my good friend. And learning what the “cowboys” of the past had done to his ancestors made me not want to be the cowboy anymore. In fact, it kind of made me embarrassed to think I had a one time aspired to that.
I started rooting for the indians in those movies. I started to understand where they were coming from and why they were fighting the cowboys in the first place. I exchanged my love and hate.
Then, later on, in another interesting turn …I moved to South Dakota. And I lived among REAL cowboys for a few years. And I found that they weren’t indiscriminately killing indians anywhere, at all. They were working ranches and farms and providing food for most of the world. They were the toughest and most kind hearted people I’d ever met. And they were nothing like the cowboys I envisioned, abusing my best friend’s ancestors. They were providing milk and bread and steak and corn and chicken and a whole host of things for me and pretty much everyone on earth. Some of those guys are still friends to this day.
I again, had to re-align my hate and love.
If you study enough history, you’ll move in and out of love and hatred for people. Some of my best friends are Italian. And yet I’m not a big fan of the ancient Romans. But guess what? Nobody lives in ancient Rome anymore.
I’m a fan of the men who died at the Alamo. But my wife is Mexican. Our Alamo perspective is multi-dimensional. But I love her. And I love freedom. And I love America. And the politics of the Alamo was complicated and fully embroiled in early 19th century points of view.
You can go insane re-aligning love and hate for all involved.
Over the last 24 hours I have been excoriated for being a white male. I can’t help how I was born. I didn’t choose my skin or gender. And yet, the hate and vitriol I feel coming toward me is palpable. I have a couple of choices: I can lash back or I can choose to show grace to those insulting me. I obviously represent something negative to them. They are obviously in pain. So, I’m giving them some space.
But keep this in mind …exchanging the hatred of one race or gender for the hatred of another race or gender …isn’t tolerance or acceptance. And it’s definitely not love. It’s simply redirection. And you may think you are morally superior to those you deem hateful by hating THEM back, instead of hating (insert minority of your choice here) But the truth is you have simply gone to the hate exchange and traded the hatred of one entity or group …for another. You’re no closer to love than they are.
If we are really interested in love …I mean really …then Trump supporters have GOT to reach out in love to Hillary supporters. And if Hillary supporters were actually about acceptance in this election, they have to show it …to someone who was not lovable to them. Or it wasn’t about acceptance at all. It was just a transaction at the hate exchange.
Our president elect has a problem with this. A BIG one. It’s one of the reasons a lot of people like him. It’s also why SO many people hate him and are frightened of him. I DON’T like that about him …at all. I’m hoping this part of his personality tempers with time in public service. I’m allowing room for it.
Loving nice people you agree with is easy. But it’s not actually love. It’s like loving a puppy. Loving someone you really want to hate is difficult. But it’s the difference in changing your object …and changing the world.
So, I’ve decided not to go to the hate exchange anymore and cash in my anger toward someone I deem more deserving.
The interest payments are simply too high.