Sometimes, hate tries to be disguised as love while holding a megaphone and wearing a "Jesus Saves" shirt.
Today in Murfreesboro I witnessed so many things, most of which I found sad.
Some people like this man speaking into a microphone connected to a speaker, was using words from the Bible to hurt, anger or tear down others. I witnessed the rage that stared down the Bible scriptures, which is inconsistent with what Christianity is about.
Today, I saw young men literally pick fights with older men because they disagreed with an opinion.
Today, I saw a father who brought his son to the rally in Murfreesboro. The young boy, not knowing what was happening, was simply sitting on the ground playing with a toy as his father watched the crowd in anticipation of a fight.
Today, I saw where a young black woman was not told she was entering the gates on the wrong side of the protest and she could not cross over once inside… surrounded by angered white supremacist she bravely snapped a photo on her phone and I said, “Be careful over here.” As I walked away she quietly said, “Don’t leave.”
Today I spoke to a white supremacist and asked why he came to Shelbyville, TN today and he turned his head and said no comment.
Today I witnessed those who suggested they were on the Murfreesboro square to show love while holding signs that sounded sweet… only to hear them spew words of hate towards those standing on the opposite side of a fence.
Below is a soundclip of the above man preaching into a loudspeaker:
“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” - Booker T. Washington
He was sitting on his bike outside of a bar in downtown Nashville. "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed to his fingers... He looked like the type who drifted into town with the thought of one night, but likely turned into two and later three.
By ten that evening, he was laying down on his ride with his feet hanging over the rear tire – his head on his handlebars. It was as if he owned the street and if he was told to move on, with a spit he’d say no and sit tight.
The type most would not approach in fear of not being able to walk away, he sat alone as the traffic around him blurred past.
"Got no strings to tie me down
Got no cause to hang around
What difference does it make which way I go
Got an empty feelin' down inside
Still I need to stay alive
Who can tell what waits beyond this road
I'm a drifter, lonesome drifter"
- Johnny Cash, “I'm A Drifter” (Version 2)
It is dark, but darkness is sometimes on the inside of those we meet, but sometimes we don't know.
His knuckles had the words tattooed in faded ink, “HATE” and “LOVE.” He told me, "I could feel it against the bone as he did it."
The word "HATE" was written backwards as "ETAH" and I have seen that before on tattoos. Some have told me they did that so they could read their tattoo themselves, which is commonly called "mirror writing." It is often the sign of a deteriorating brain.
It is not dyslexia, it is instead dysgraphia. The medical definition of dysgraphia is, “The impairment of the ability to write caused by brain damage,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It can be a symptom of brain disease.
But why such a contrasting tattoo of love and hate?
I asked the man who was in his late sixties “Why?” He then went back to a time when he was behind bars… “It was a prison tattoo in the 70’s – I figured it would fade away in a year or so. But, it’s still here over 40-years later.”
I couldn’t settle for such an answer so I pressed on. “But why,” I asked him again. “I liked to fight back then and I liked the idea of the tattoo on my fingers, so I did it,” he said quietly as cars passed by on a busy Nashville street.
Still, not the in depth answer I was looking for. I wanted to hear about his inner fight of being good verses being evil. His response to such nonsense, “Back then I was young and dumb – Today I am old and foolish.”
In the 1953 novel by David Grubb entitled “The Night of the Hunter,” the fictional character Reverend Harry Powell had Love and Hate tattooed on his fingers. The character was a known con-artist in the story and also a serial killer. Perhaps it was that novel that spurred others to get such tattoos?
In the book, the character of Reverend Powell gives a sermon on the struggles between good and evil while using his inked knuckles as an example while preaching. On one hand you have love, on the other you have hate.
The story was set in the 1930’s and the Reverend spread the word of God while befriending rich widows and later killing them while gaining their fortunes. In other words, the good was the spreading of the word followed by his bad acts of murder.
The tattoos were later made clearer when the novel became a movie in 1955. In fact, the “LOVE” and “HATE” is one of the most iconic images in film history still today, all because of the movie. Since the 50’s, multiple characters have had similar or the same tattoos.
Rev. Powell in “The Night of the Hunter” was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps a scary combination that is seen in multiple serial killers throughout history. In 1955 the film was far from popular. No one wanted to see a traveling preacher who was also capable of such evil. No one wanted to be reminded that evil was so vivid, clever and charming at the same time.
While I am not suggesting the hands pictured belong to someone of evil doings, it does make me think twice when I see such tattoos. It is almost a caution sign to remind me that some people battle with true inner evil that is extreme to the point where they have it tattooed onto their body as a reminder.
The hands pictured did prison time for robbery, but perhaps more before being caught – which is why I wanted to focus on the hands as opposed to the face in this photo.
It is a reminder for all of us, because we all have such battles. However, some are much more extreme.
“When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide”
-Imagine Dragons, Demons
ABOVE: Click to enlarge photos
Lee, who is homeless, once had a large tattoo on his forearm that read, “Member – KKK.” However, that is now covered by a cross representing Jesus and a rose representing Lee’s mother who passed away about 8 years ago.
What is even more intriguing about the KKK tattoo being covered up by a cross is that the tattoo artist is black. Dewayne, who owns Beast Mode Ink in Murfreesboro, TN said he would be proud to cover up such a tattoo for Lee. In fact, the two hit it off great. It was likely a site that would not have been seen just a few years back.
“I can’t live like this anymore,” he said while looking at the rose. He then talked about how the rose would remind him that his mother wanted him to lead a better life and the cross would re-enforce that in a major way. He went on to say, “I made my mind up being homeless, that I’ve got to change, my mother don’t want me living like this and I decided to get this hatred off of me and live for God.”
Lee said that prior to the cross being tattooed onto his arm today, “My body had hate on it.”
Lee elaborated, “The old tattoo that I had on there was hatred and this tattoo that I’ve got on here is love for my mother and the man upstairs – that’s what I wanted right there.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.