Posted by: johnhourihan | October 12, 2013

Time to stop the hate

I don’t know how to explain this feeling except this way.
I felt it 46 years ago, and I felt it yesterday.
Nearly half a century ago, in 1967, I was a 20-year-old American boy, even younger for being brought up in small town New England.
And I stood lost. I felt like, as Phil Ochs said, “white boots marching in a yellow land.”
I wavered Alice-like at an intersection in Nha Trang, Vietnam. It was dusk, made darker by the lack of glass and chrome. The cross streets were crowded with darting Lambrettas, bicycles, rickshaws and Citroen drivers laying on their horns. The spaces between vehicles were taken up with the people, a level of Vietnamese and a taller level of soldiers in army fatigues. I had to duck under the signs hanging over the sidewalk vendor shops selling cigarettes and pictures of Jesus to keep from hitting my head.
I felt weighted down toward the crushed and crumbling sidewalk by an oppressive humid heat as the country sat on the precipice between the dry season and the monsoons.
Lights were not bright enough to cut through the darkness for any distance, and colors were present but muted as if a veil had been pulled down between my eyes and the rest of the world.
A foreign land played out around me as I edged my way carefully in a direction I had been told was where I would find a bar named the My Kim on Tu Do street where I could meet up with my friends who had come down earlier.
My trek down the sidewalk, edging between food carts selling rat and pepper sandwiches smelling of soy sauce and the heavy aroma of sizzling oil, and the rice and soup stands with the distinct smell of Nuoc mam. The Vietnamese called it fish sauce. I learned later that it is made the same way we make lobster bait. It smelled like months-old barrels of ground up fish, left to ferment. The “sauce” was scooped from the top.
Every smell drifted through the heavier omnipresent scent of body odor, beer and the benjo ditch that ran along side the street.
I hoped to make it to the bar as quickly as possible, but before I reached it I felt a tug at my fatigue shirt from behind.
I turned to find a young  Vietnamese boy who looked up at me and asked, “You want change money?”
I pulled away from him and moved a few more steps closer to the door of the bar.
There was another tug and I turned again.
She had stood up from her sitting position against the outer wall of the bar. She was elderly and her head was draped with a robins’ egg  blue scarf, almost like the Virgin Mary.
Everything behind her blurred into muted colors and shapes as my eyes focused on her face. Her hair was grey, her eyes were black slits slanted toward her scalp; her mouth was turned up in a twisted smile showing black teeth etched with purple from chewing beetle nut for the pain, and where her nose should have been there were two holes in the center of a triangle shaped scar that ran from her upper lip to her scalp.
“Give money,” she hissed.
A stunned fear washed over me as my mouth watered as it will when you are about to be nauseous.
“Giac My,” she spit when I didn’t come across immediately.
It meant “American garbage.”
Her hatred mixed with my feelings of fear and helplessness.
I had the same feeling again yesterday, when I went online and read the comments being scratched in blood across the reply section of so many news articles. The hatred I saw from both sides brought back that feeling again; fear, hopelessness, and nausea.
Political parties have driven us to this unrelenting hatred. Lies and partisan nonsense has split the people of our country into two sides who actually hate each other no matter what we have in common.
It is time for us to take back our country by not paying attention to the hatred spewed by politicians.
We know the president is not bringing on the apocalypse, we know that the president is not funding an Islamic jihad against Christians, we know that not all Republicans are the uncaring, evil rich.
We are Americans and we have been driven to hatred by people whose primary purpose in life is to get themselves elected again and again.
It’s time we stop listening to them and begin listening to each other.
This state of America is frightening and nauseating.



  1. It’s time for term limits! Unless it’s too late?

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