In 1997 I was living on a farm about 6 miles from Townville. On my way to work one morning, something caught my eye in front of Hannah's Hardware store. It was an old TV console with an AX through the front tube and a sign that simply said "ELLEN". Those moments, driving past - the meaning sinking in - still feel like slow motion to me.
It was the morning after Ellen Degeneres came out on her sitcom. This was a hardware store I patronized regularly. They always seemed like nice people. They put an AX through a television and put it in front of their store with a person's name on it! What would they do to me? I stopped shopping there and began thinking about moving somewhere else. Within a few years I did, but the fear went with me. So did the nightmares.
A person could seem quite nice. Maybe seem to be a friend. There may be an AX hidden with my name on it. Terrorism comes in many forms. It's based in hatred and can be a thinly veiled rage that will burst out without warning. I'm very distrusting of anyone who exhibits any form of "we" versus "them" mentality. "Them"? There but for the grace of god, go I.
When there's talk of walls - I understand walls. Once the "right" "we" are contained within them, who's the next "them" to turn on? A sorting mentality does not stop. Hatred does not suddenly end. It simply finds a new target. A person can seem quite nice until their ax has your name on it. If we look at anyone - ANYONE - and allow ourselves to fill with rage, we need to take a good hard look at ourselves. The world is full of broken souls and some seem so badly broken that there is no repair. Rage will not fix that. Rage will not change that. We need to find a better way and not allow our soul to be broken.
I no longer harbor those fears and the nightmares are gone. Today I wonder what has happened to the person who placed that TV, ax and sign back in 1997. My hope is that they have found peace and no longer feel such rage.