Ten meters ahead of me, a reasonably handsome and well-dressed man is walking his well-groomed dog. Let’s call the dog Rex. Rex is on a leash and like all dogs, takes his time following his master, sniffing along. Inevitably, Rex, at a certain moment must like what he smells and leaves his business card. Against a car.
At the same moment, for nothing longer but a moment, I am a dog hater. Or rather, a dog owner hater. And let me remind you, it is not even my car Rex pissed against.
It happens. Occasionally I hate dogs, and cats, when they scratch at the carpet that leads up to my apartment. I hate taggers and people who litter, I hate plastic wrapped fruit and vegetables, I hate journalists who copy-paste nonsense on climate change. I hate vegans who post Peta video’s.
Be assured, I have but a few amateur anger chips on my shoulder. Unlike those who hate with a vengeance and feel the need to name their hatred, invoke a god, tie a bomb around their waist and kill innocent people.
I must have said this before but I am not a politician or policy maker. I am but a humble voter who when called upon goes into her cubicle and casts her vote. The extent of my civic duty.
In the bigger scheme of things, my little displeasures remain mostly unanswered and unsolved. There is after all plastic to be hauled out of the oceans, there is renewable energy to defend. What is dog piss but a bit of acid sprayed on a parked car or a front door?
But do I suffer my little miseries alone? And how do others deal with their frustrations? Am I alone with my anger?
I would never suggest violent action. Nor will I pin Rex’s owner to the wall and give him, verbally, what I, at that moment at least, think he deserves. But back to our professional hater. How do I deal with him?
Many seem to find solace in a minute of silence, in the offer of free hugs, teddy bears and flowers, and the lighting of candles. For many, there is comfort in the eloquence of resilience and solidarity. Alas, I am not one of those many.
I do not endorse hate speech. I believe in the law, not in eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth. I know that paranoia leads nowhere and that revenge begets revenge. But I do believe that the perpetrators of hate crimes, fanaticism and terror will not be stopped by kindness, understanding and turning the other cheek.
It is terrible to think we live in a world where people drive cars into innocent pedestrians, where fanatics blow themselves up amidst innocent crowds of shoppers, commuters, music lovers and spectators. Here at home and abroad, in capital cities, small cities, any day of the week, any time of day. It has happened, it will happen again.
Still I am an optimist. I believe the world is a better place now than it was before. Not everywhere, not always, but in general. More freedom, more justice, more equality, more opportunities, less poverty, better healthcare, more awareness, be it with regard to the environment, human rights, notions of peace and dignity.
But for my anger…
As I watched the One Love Manchester concert, this anger bubbled up once more. Anger and confusion for despite all its best intentions (and massive fundraising), I am not sure what I witnessed. Kiss and make up in action? Love and peace and understanding? Oblivion? ‘Don’t look back in anger,’ they sang. Rhetoric might be a powerful tool, but it is content I need.
So tell me, anger aside, how then, do we look back?
Various scenarios go through my mind. Politicians worldwide, both from the left and the right, tweet and lecture and whisper in my ear. Scholars and intellectuals, endorsed or self-proclaimed, analyze, scrutinize, berate and advise. History repeats itself and tells me to beware. But my heart and head are not in concert. Where do the answers lie?
In need of clarity, I would desperately like my mind to resemble a peaceful mountain lake, filled with cool, clear water, glistening in the sunshine. Unfortunately though, my mind resembles a stormy sea at best, a murky mud pool at worst.
Don’t you just hate that?