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A Better Way

Crystal Willcuts
9/8/11

Have you noticed how much anger there is in the world? As I was driving my car one day, I found myself behind a car with two bumper stickers. One had a cheeky boy peeing on Obama’s name. The other made mention of people being ignorant for voting for President Obama.

I was enjoying my day until this yahoo, deciding to wear his anger and hatred on his car, felt it necessary to attack everyone who could read and had the misfortune of driving behind him.

I voted for Obama and will probably do so again, but that doesn’t make me ignorant or stupid. I didn’t agree with George Bush being elected twice but that didn’t make me want to slap hateful propaganda on my vehicle. It’s the coward’s drive-by and I am not a coward. And might I add I graduated summa cum laude and have an IQ of 154? Yes, that is grandiose self promotion but I think I’ve made my point.

Okay, so after honking at this closet Nazi -- not that he noticed -- I arrived at the chiropractor’s office. While waiting I picked up the August 5, 2011 issue of The Week: The Best of the U.S. and International Media. On the cover was an illustration of a Muslim man and woman flanking Anders Behring Breivik in a lineup. The title read “The New Face of Terrorism” with the subtitle "Did American blogs fuel a Norwegian’s anti-Islamic rage?". (Ah yes, more hate, because there is not enough in the world.) The article went on to talk about how anti-Muslim American bloggers may have influenced Breivik, a far-right extremist, in his decision to murder 76 people, many of them the innocent children of Norwegian socialists. A sobering atrocity, senseless and all too familiar. Considering the topic of the article, the illustration of the hateful American standing in the lineup was sorely missing. Easier to point a finger than look in the mirror.

I was at my son’s cross country meet recently, and some elementary school age boys were playing nearby. They disagreed about something then proceeded to call each other names. I thought, “These are kids. What do they have to be so angry about? They have toys and don’t have to worry about responsibility.” My husband said they mirror their parents’ and siblings’ attempts at conflict resolution or lack thereof. When these kids picked up rocks and lined up their aims, I had to step in. “Don’t you throw those rocks at each other or I’ll tell your parents!” Most quickly dropped their weapons and dispersed. One or two had to face The Eyebrow.

What are we showing our children? When we disagree with our spouse, or a story on the news, what are we saying in front of these little sponges that soak up everything? When someone wrongs us do we show forgiveness or hold onto hate and anger to be made into a millstone and placed around our children’s necks? What do the bumper stickers on our cars say to our children and what do they say about us? How did Breivik become a monster?

In this world we have to carefully dig through the sensationalism to get to the real news. People are being fed drama, real and perceived, from every angle and some get their only nourishment from it. Fear and anger are the stepping stones that lead from bumper stickers to blogs to bloodshed. Three hundred years of American history have brought this country nowhere. Intolerance, disrespect and violence towards minorities from the White House to the poor house hasn’t changed. Where is mainstream media to report this injustice? Where are the leaders of the dominant society, religious and otherwise, to loudly and publicly denounce this hypocrisy? They must be the ones with the bumper stickers, because I hear nothing. We must take it upon ourselves.

When everyone around is calling out hate, intolerance, and fear, we have to call out love, compassion, and understanding. When one talks about love, there are those who want to put the hippie spin on it and color it in shades of crazy. But it’s not crazy if it’s the only thing that stands up against hate. We have to stand up for it. We have to say when something is wrong. We have to honk our horns, write our articles, shine lights in the darkness, and pray our prayers for each other with courage and, above all, with love.

Crystal Willcuts Cole, Mnicoujou Lakota and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member, was born in Rapid City, South Dakota and is an artist, writer, and poet currently residing in Big Stone Gap, Virginia with her husband and two children.

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oldrunner222's picture
It's a good article. I get very frustrated with people putting crap on their bumpers because they shove their offensive ideas, whatever they may be, in your face, but give you no opportunity to respond. It is a cowardly way to attack anyone with an alternative viewpoint. That being said, I think some of your responders may have failed to get your sense of humor, not realizing that you are throwing out the IQ in a tongue in cheek sort of way. And I suppose you could have made the "Soup Nazi" reference more obvious by calling the person a bumper sticker nazi. Anyway, I have enjoyed your articles and hope you will write more. The quiet people need to start speaking up more.
oldrunner222
mebesg's picture
There is definitely too much political anger in the world. I have a cousin who constantly bombards me with e-mails full of hateful extreme right wing anti-Obama rants and jokes and I find it offensive. You may disagree with the president, but he is still our leader and we must respect him. If we show disrepsect for him, then how can we expect other nations to respect us? It makes us look weak, petty and prejudiced.
mebesg
wintugirl1's picture
I disagree that much of it comes from the non-native ways. I have worked for a number of Native organizations and they have been plagued with jealousy, competitiveness, and disloyalty. I just don't understand why there is so much conflict amongst one another! I know many honest, educated, and strong Native people that vow to never work in Indian Country again, because of the mistreatment they have experienced. This is sad and it is a shame.
wintugirl1
florm's picture
Forgive me but...Aho!
florm
gkhall's picture
hmm...you are writing an article about tolerance, understanding and compassion yet you call someone with an anti-Obama bumper sticker on their car a "closet Nazi" and seem to pat yourself on the back for doing so. In your frustration with the driver in front of you, did you not act as those children did and pick up your rock? Surely someone with all your insight does not think it is logical to compare a citizen disappointed with their sitting President to that of a Nazi.
gkhall
duwaynesmith's picture
Agree with you Stormy, Native people are not exempt. To believe otherwise is to live in some romantic never-never land. The problem with non-Natives is that there are just many more of them and they occupy positions of power where they can easily exercise their hatred with impunity. The difficulty with hatred is that it becomes especially harmful when joined together with power. We all need to be vigilant about hateful people when they join together in powerful groups.
duwaynesmith
thechief's picture
How do you know what a nazi would have as bumper stickers? That's ridiculous. anybody that accuses of being/acting like nazis doesn't want to have an intelligent conversation. I have seen bumper stickers like that with ford vs Chevys. Must be some nazis.lol.
thechief
softbreeze's picture
I agree that there is alot of hate and anger in this world. I think much of it comes from the non-native cultural ways in which people treat each other. Love is what's missing in how things are being operated in industrialized societies. I've struggled with my own anger over the maltreatment and injustices I've been dealt over the years. But I'm working on trying to channel my focus and energy on creating what I do want to see in this world, rather than railing against the things that are bad. It just feels so much better to love than to hate. I wrote a letter to President Obama back in April, saying very much of the same that you've written here about the craziness that's going on in this society, and how unhealthy it is for everyone, and our Mother Earth. I'm glad to know that it's not just me who sees it.
softbreeze
dbender's picture
That's capitalism for you. The strategy is and always has been divide and conquer. That's why so many children today don't know how to act; because their parents are too busy in their profession or they could be an addict of sorts. People need love and compassion on a regular basis just as they need a fulfilling diet. If these things go unfulfilled it creates a person without hope and dreams; somebody who is scared to stand up and speak loudly against the greed. That is what "they" want. When I say "they" I'm referring to the sociopaths of the world. These people are mainly politicians, cops, corporate executives, people in advertising, tobacco companies, sugar industrialists; those who do everything for vanity. That's capitalism. And your're right; it's a non-indian aspect to American life.
dbender
crystal's picture
Hi everyone! I'm glad to see some like this article! : ) For those that didn't, let me try to clear up some misunderstandings. If you have ever watched an episode of Seinfeld, there is a character referred to as a Soup Nazi. That was my clumsy reference and I apologize for my lack of cleverness. I wish I had thought of Bumper Sticker Nazi sooner. Thanks for that! Nazi is a harsh word, but I implore you to find your inner funny bone. I say that without disrespect, just that if you can't find a way to laugh at things then life will tear you apart. I am proud that one of the strengths of Native people is our ability to laugh especially in the harsh glare of messed up circumstances. As for my IQ, I could care less. I'd rather have wisdom. As I wrote, it was only to highlight the absurdity of the bumper sticker. Even my husband didn't know what my IQ was until he read this article and we've been married 4 years now. So I agree, big deal! It's good to talk about the things that hurt us or offend us and I hope this clears things up as I always want to keep the paths of friendship open. Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great day!
crystal

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