The boy strained with all his might. The powerful para-cord wrapped around the statue of Robert E. Lee barely moved. Though hollow it outweighed the boy trying to pull it down and try as he might he could not budge it. He would not give in as he pulled and pulled and still there was not even a wobble. Frustrated, he fell forward into the cold ground, the blades of grass feeling soft against his inflamed skin.
The boy took off the black gloves, and as he looked at his red hands covered in small flecks of leather he heard a noise behind him.
“Are you ok,” the voice asked.
The boy quickly jumped up, “Who are you?” he asked quickly.
“Nobody important,” the voice said as he sat down on the ground next to the statues podium.
The box relaxed a little, “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I sometimes come here to think, the world is a difficult place,” he said softly, “are you pulling this down?”
“Yeah,” the boy said, “It is a symbol of hate and a place we should never remember.”
“I agree,” said the man, “It is a thing we should never remember.The hate resonates in us all like a fire that seems to never be quenched.”
“Yeah,” said the boy, “If we pull this down the world will get better, I mean, we don’t want to remember anything about this time in our lives.”
“So the statue is the problem,” the man said. “What it represents I mean.”
“I mean, yeah, he symbolizes all that was bad about us, we should set it aside,” the boy said.
“I suppose so,” the man said. “This man above you was a warmonger right? He was a bad person. Right?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” the boy retorted.
“What if I told you this man would agree with everything you were doing?” The man asked.
“What do you mean?” the boy said.
“What if I told you the man in this statue believed everything you did, and did not want this statue. What if I told you all he wanted was for our country to be united as one?” The man asked.
“He was with the South, their greatest general!” The boy said anxious.
“He was,” the man continued, “But he did not want to be, he fought for his state. After all, back then we believed in our state first, and our country second. He did not want war, but would not refuse his state. He fought against friends, but when the war was over, just wanted peace. He lay down his arms to move his state and his country forward. He wanted nothing remembered either, he wanted the country to heal.”
“That’s what we want too,” the boy said.
“I know you believe that,” the man said, “but what if I were to tell you that even after all this is gone, even after the last artifact destroyed, even then, it will not be enough. This statue represents hate and the hate you feel. It incites hate, hate from the little men who seem to worship what it this man never meant to have worshiped. The men who want to keep it, they are purveyors of hate as well, but to them this statue is just a means to incite, to infuriate, to stand for something. The people who see this statue as a positive often have no more understanding of the person it represents than you do. They cannot see past their own hate, and will use anything as an idol for their monstrous cause. While the ones who want it destroyed are no better, thinking destroying an object will eliminate an abstract idea.”
The boy looked over quizzically, not able to see the face of the man, he only saw the pants, boots, and a hint of gloves. “What do you mean?”
“I know you are smart, can you not see past it all?” The man asked.
“See what,” the boy asked.
“The statue is not coming down out of some gilded principal, it is coming down out of hate,” The man began, “Not the hate of the things the man has done, but the hate in the hearts of those pulling it down. When will enough be enough? This is once again a war between ideas. The ideas play out easily to who is right and wrong, but if it were that easy it would not exist anymore. Each side fears and their hate grows from fear then the hate creates fear which starts the cycle over. Those who do not accept others are vile and evil, but those that use violence to begat peace, they are no better than this sad soul atop the statue. Then again, once this and all the other statues are gone, the hate will still be there. There is no cure for the hate except acceptance and love.”
“Love,” the boy said, “How can you say that? This man is terrible, and evil. He wanted men to be slaves, and made people die.”
“Even if that is true, will knocking down this statue give anyone peace? Will it give you peace, or will the hate still be a part of you, waiting for something new? Where will you draw your line. Will it be to desecrate your fathers father, or your father, or something different for the pain they may have caused? How will any of it abate the depths of hate you feel, or others like you feel? For that matter, the ones who still carry this inane cause, do you think if these statues are gone their hate will be gone? Soon all that will be left is hate on all sides, and then the only thing left to destroy will be each other. Wouldn’t it be better if everyone would end the hate? Is there not a sane way to resolve the hate” The man slowly stood. He was of normal height with a grey beard that made him look quite stately.
“But this is the symbol of hate,” the boy said.
The man looked at him in the eyes, and they were weary with timeless pain etched in them. “Yes, I hate this statue as well. As it falls, I know I will find peace, and I hope you do as well. Let’s do this.”
“Really?” the boy asked.
The man picked up the strands of para-cord and the boy did as well. Stopping for a moment the boy looked back in the man’s weary eyes. “Are you OK?” he asked as he looked at the etched lines of the mans face. His brittle suit was worn tight on him, and the long gloves covered his hands perfectly as the man flexed them in anticipation of the pull.
“Pull,” the man said and the boy turned and strained immensely, powerfully. More than he could have ever puled before. He felt the man pulling as well, and the strain began to bear fruit as the statue shifted slowly forward until without warning it fell towards them both.
The boy lost his footing and fell but ran forward as he did, and the falling statue missed him.
“Good job mister,” the boy said as he looked around. No one was there. “Mister?” he called out, yet nothing.
The boy walked around for a moment looking for the man only to find nothing. He smiled though, they had done it together. They had pulled down another symbol of hate. Soon there would be no more. He looked down at the now bent bronze and saw the face of the piece of history. Before him lay the stately beard, twisted slightly, the eyes now vacant bronze, the a chiseled skin. He looked at his suit, and the long gloves, and then saw the ground below the statues hand. In block letters it was there, plain as day. “End Hate”
The boy looked at the bent and broken statue and for a moment the hate was gone, he realized there is so much more than just hate, for just a moment there was hope as the boy cradled his head and cried.