My Dad Had a Swastika Tattoo

It was a small thing… a tiny symbol that meant far more than I could understand when I was a child. It was one of those “prison” tattoos… on his left hand between his thumb and forefinger. It didn’t look good, but it wasn’t really aesthetics he was going for. It was a perfect reflection for this ugliness inside his heart, the hatred he carried.

You see, my dad was an angry, violent man. He wasn’t a stupid man. On the contrary, he was rather intelligent. He literally could have been anything he wanted. Sadly, he never wanted to be anything…. Other than the town drunk who everyone hated and feared.

I don’t know when he became that man. He was that way my entire life. Some say he was a good man before I came along. I used to believe maybe it was my fault. But that’s just stupid. It wasn’t my fault. No, I believe the anger and hatred was always there, hiding in the darkness of his heart.

So many thoughts racing through my mind as I tried to write this and put things in perspective. Why a swastika? Why a symbol of hatred? Why a symbol of white supremacy?

We were certainly no better than anyone else no matter the color of their skin or what religion they were. If anything, we were worse. We were the definition of white trash. It was certainly nothing to be proud of and we certainly had no right to look down on anyone else.

Perhaps it was easier to blame people he had never met, people he knew nothing about for his failures and lack of ambition to be more. Maybe it made him feel better about himself and his pathetic little life. Or perhaps some people really are just born evil.

They say people aren’t born to hate, they aren’t born to be racist, they’re taught. I don’t really know about that. As I said above, maybe some are. That point is kinda moot here. I was taught hate through words and actions. My dad was the perfect example to follow… if one so chose. I didn’t choose to. In fact, I chose to become the exact opposite. I’m not exactly sure when I realized hatred and racism are wrong, that my father was wrong. It wasn’t anything anyone told me or taught me.

Some would probably argue that point saying, “but grandma…” Yeah, no. Grandma never once said anything my father did or said was wrong. She never once said hating others because of their color or religion was wrong. In fact, she threw a few racial slurs here and there herself, only not where so many people could hear. But I won’t delve into how my grandmother really was. That’s a whole other can of worms right there. Let’s just say for now, that people aren’t always the way the world thinks they are.

Back on topic… I could have been like my father, given time and practice. I could have squashed the empathy I have for others. I could have let anger and hate control me, destroy me. I could have but I chose not to. My father’s hate ends with me.

Hate is wrong. Hate hurts. Hate destroys. Love is right. Love heals. Love builds. Everyone has a choice. I choose to love.

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