Almost every day I ride my bicycle out and about downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.
I am lucky to live in a subtropical town with plentiful palm trees, ancient brick streets, many museums and nicknack boutiques. I am within an easy strolling distance to the Tampa Bay waters and from there I can see out into the distance the deep channel barge traffic heading to navigate underneath the Skyway Bridge and cruise on out into the Gulf of Mexico.
I enjoy my walks to the grocery store as I have a smorgasbord of the weird, the wacky and the unfortunate. The downtown environment is littered with tall condo structures, historic hotels, and modern office buildings. It breeds nooks and crannies for the homeless a temporary hide-out or bivouac on a park bench until the local police nudge them toward a shelter. Mostly, the homeless leave me alone and rarely ask for my spare change. I don’t look down at them with annoyance and in particular; I don’t hate them.
I also observe people who consider themselves fancy and above the masses. They amuse me because I know for a fact a nice house is just a house, and a nice car ends up just a car.
My view of the downtrodden or the financially well-to-do are exactly the same. If they are nice to me, I’ll be nice to them. It becomes quite simple how to treat any man or beast as you learn what the word – humble – feels like.
Which gets me to my observation from getting tractor-beamed into watching the news. I’ll let you pick the station – your preferred flavor might be more left, or right, or a swirl – but the pitch is always the same. Get eyeballs on our station and help our advertisers.
I think the answer is a desire to create conflict. I think the result foments mindless hate.
In my mind, politicians are Satan’s incubus and succubus. It’s not about love, peace, and tolerance. It’s all about stirring up the group hate and getting rich.
My last novel, AMANITA, was an allegory. The underlying theme was that Satan hated the main character Artemis Lamb. I’ll not explain why Satan hated Artemis, but I’ll share with you what Satan tells Artemis toward the story end. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.
“That’s all I wanted,” Satan said. It looked up into the fading blue sky and back over at the harbor waters. “You’re in conflict. And I am pleased with your hate.”