Hugs, Not Hate

In times of conflict, act from the heart

The poet Mark Eckert and I were attending one of the free concerts that take place throughout Sonoma County in the summer a couple weeks ago—I won’t say where because Mark and I thought the band really stunk.

Mark started making undecipherable, indescribable gestures to signify his disgust, which made me laugh. The man standing in front of Mark turned around, and he must’ve thought Mark was mocking him. This crusty old-timer, with his San Francisco Giants cap, long, curly white hair and goatee, plenty of meat on his bones and a T-shirt that read “Guns don’t kill people—people kill people,” suddenly grabbed Mark in a bear hug and said in his ear, loud enough for me to hear, “I’m friends with Sonny Barger.”

Then he looked at me. I rolled my eyes as if to say, “I’m with Stupid, please don’t hold it against me,” and Crusty said, “I like your hat.” (Thank God I was wearing my Giants hat!) And for the rest of the concert, we were all best buddies!

I think I learned something from that guy, something to pass on. Next time you find yourself in presence of someone with whom you don’t agree (I don’t agree with Crusty’s T-shirt) or you think you have grounds for a potential conflict, like maybe they disrespected you, grab them in a big bear hug and tell them something straight from the heart that you think they might need to hear. “Sonny Barger is my friend” is good. So is “Be the change you want to see.” Or maybe “Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies.'”

Or tell them, “You’re not going to catch the Midnight Rider.”

Richard Nixon ended his resignation speech on Aug. 9, 1974, with these words: “Always remember others may hate you. But the ones who hate you can’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”

Don’t hate Trump and his supporters or anyone else with whom you might disagree or have grounds for conflict. Like Trump, Nixon and their supporters, you and I, too, can destroy ourselves with hate.

David Madgalene is a poet-lyricist who lives in Windsor.

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