Interesting juxtaposition. On my way out of Giant supermarket on County Line Road in Chalfont, PA a cute 5 or 6 year old little boy was waiting for his grownup to check out. He held out his fist for a fist bump. I gladly obliged and smiled behind my mask. My heart felt light as I admired this cutie pie for connecting with shoppers in the best way he knew how at the moment.
I strolled my cart into the parking lot and toward my car, slowly, but intentionally, since this shopping trip followed time in the hospital for kidney stone surgery and I had to get home and pee because part of the aftercare instruction was to drink copious amounts of water. Good patient that I am, I followed the guidance.
As I was loading my reusable bags filled with mostly organic groceries into my eco friendly car with hippie/social justice bumper stickers, a woman drove by and yelled out the window, “I hate Liberals! Morons!” I yelled back, “I love you!” I really do..I just don’t love what her beliefs have her saying and possibly doing. Feeling peaceful at the moment.
Maybe she also took note of the tie dye tank top that has the words “be kind” imprinted on it in white letters. Maybe she didn’t see the bruises on both arms where IVs were placed and blood drawn while I was in the hospital for a few days. She had no way of knowing the pain I was in when attempting to pass the big honking stones and some of the residual discomfort I felt while shopping. Even if she had known and even if she herself had experienced kidney stones, would she have cared? It’s the kind of pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone, even her. That’s how I know I don’t hate her or anyone else. To her, I wasn’t a real person. I was a walking symbol of what she fears, since I have come to see that hatred springs from fear of change of status, fear of losing assumed privilege.
What I wondered is if she would have spewed those words if she had walked, rather than driven past me or if someone else was nearby to witness her rudeness. I didn’t notice if she was alone in the car or if she had bumper stickers that referenced her beliefs.
If we had been in a different setting and I didn’t feel the urgency to get home, would I have attempted to engage her in civil conversation and ask her where her beliefs came from and why she was so troubled by mine? I hoped that there were no children in her life to be poisoned by hatred. I think of the Nanci Griffith song called Hard Life and the line, “If we poison our children with hatred, then a hard life is all that they’ll know.” I wonder who poisoned this woman’s heart. More than returning hatred for hatred, I offer her compassion and hope that something will occur that will change her mind and open her heart.
Peace, and fist bumps, ya’ll.