Trumpsters have a malignant game that many liberals (years ago wimpishly changing their name to ‘progressives’) don’t even know about. It’s called “owning the libs.”
It means deliberately provoking and triggering reactions in liberals by intentionally pushing their buttons. A hate-filled, rightwing neighbor and his wife tried it on me in last week, and the fellow even admitted it when I confronted him.
This is what happened. (Of course it’s my recounting of the incident, but the fellow freely admitted the set-up and their reasons for it.) It began, as most mornings in this neighborhood do, with the barking of their black Lab, which has the loudest bark you’ve ever heard.
A couple years ago, neighbors on their street convinced them to get special training for the animal, but there’s no special training that can offset neglect. I fear that’s happening toward the two small children in the house, which is far more serious than canine neglect, despite dogs having become America’s sacred cows.
Their dog often whines and then barks with a distinctive double bark in the mornings when the adults are getting ready to go to work. People in back of them have learned to work (and sleep) around this considerable annoyance and annoying inconsideration. But on this particular morning it went on and on, though I could see the woman and man in their kitchen disregarding the barking at the sliding door.
Because I’ve asked them to mind the dog better, which was met with open hostility, I had a feeling it was intentional. This was confirmed when the barking started up again after half hour and I looked out to see the young man staring at my window from the corner of his patio, and then giving me the finger.
Most mornings I take a short bike ride, and I foolishly rode down the street that morning. The guy was again malevolently waiting for me, and yelled some obscenity as I went by. I stopped and he said, “I knew you would ride by.”
I replied, ‘What are you, a Trumper and this is some kind of ‘own the libs’ shit?’
“That’s exactly right,” he proudly proclaimed, adding that he knew I was “more than liberal.” He then said: “I hate you so much that I’m going to kill you and do 50 years in prison for it.”
At that point it would seem that the intelligent thing to do was to leave and call the police. Especially since, God help us, they’re both teachers.
But that would have just escalated the situation over time. After a few heated verbal exchanges, which brought us within inches of each other’s faces as I stood astride the bike on the sidewalk, a strange calm came over me.
The young man, who goes by initials (I’ll call him TJ), kept saying, “I don’t like you,” as if that was even worse than, “I hate you and am going to kill you.”
I replied, “Like and dislike is for kids; we don’t have to like each other. But hating each other is another thing.” So I offered my hand, but TJ wouldn’t shake it. I stood my ground, and offered it twice more before he took it.
Half my age and a more fit, he thought he would out-squeeze me. But since a hand injury a few years ago and the onset of some arthritis, I’ve been squeezing a tennis ball at night while watching a British mystery (like all good libs do).
So the harder he squeezed, the harder I squeezed. On the surface it reminds me now of the “death grip” handshake between Macron and Trump when they first met, their hands turning white as neither let go.
The difference is that I felt no need to ‘win.’ Energy poured through my hand that I only realized in retrospect. When he let go, I said, ‘You have more going for you than I realized; you’re not some low-IQ guy like I thought.’
TJ kept talking trash but the situation had been defused. He was dressed for a golf game, and sneeringly said, “I bet you never played sports.” ‘As a matter of fact I was a national class athlete,’ I replied. “At what?” ‘Track,’ I replied.
‘Have a good game,’ I added riding off, without a jab of villainy or stab of irony.
Self-awareness is integral to normal human development. When a person, much less an entire ‘tribe’ or people don’t acquire this crucial character trait, a nation displays a case of mass arrested development.
Democrats like to think they’re self-aware (“woke”), but the average Democrat is no more self-aware than the average Republican.
Owning the cons, unlike “owning the libs,” begins by taking complete responsibility for the darkness within one, rather than projecting it and trying to trigger reactions in your “enemy,” as Trumpers often do.
Non-haters can and must prevail (not ‘win’) in America and the world. But we can only reflect and defuse another’s hatred when we are aware of and take full responsibility for our own.