“Hate is a More Powerful Motivator than Love.”
That is one of the rules of Roger Stone, the slash-and-burn political consultant behind the election of President Donald Trump. In the new Netflix documentary, Get Me Roger Stone, he calls Trump’s election “the manifestation of a dream I have had since 1988.”
Stone is a Washington lobbyist who has been around since Watergate and has been a part of some of the worst moments of American politics. He helped create the “swamp” Trump wants to drain and believes in “doing whatever is necessary to win, short of breaking the law.” At the end of the film, he is asked what message he has for the viewers who will loathe him when the credits roll. He says, “I revel in your hatred because if I weren’t effective, you wouldn’t hate me.”
I do hate Roger Stone and wish he weren’t so effective. I hate his success and charisma and I hate that after the movie was over, my son said, “I don’t like him, but I would hire him.”
Hate is a more powerful motivator than love.
That may be sadly true in politics, but every day people prove Stone wrong. People in retirement homes, working in bars, selling healthy treats in their booth at a Saturday morning market, teaching an exercise class or adjusting to the sudden, violent death of a child.
Blue wristbands say, “I am the Solution. Raven’s Promise.” Raven Hamilton was 16 years old when she was shot and killed on December 6, 2014, while riding in a car through the Roger Williams public housing complex. They were picking up a friend for a birthday dinner when the car was shot 11 times because it looked like a car that belonged to someone else.
My son, the one who will hire Roger Stone when he runs for office, is 16. The same age as Raven on the day she died. That hit hard. Driving, drugs, drinking and sex. There is enough to fear when teenagers leave the house. Gun violence should not be on that list.
Raven’s murder is a wound that won’t heal for her parents, Latistia and Rodney Hamilton. Raven was the laughter and joy of their life and she would have graduated from Murphy High School on May 20. There was no white cap and gown. No proud pictures of Raven holding her diploma. No talk of college or plans for the future.
Two-and-a-half years later and there are days when Raven’s death doesn’t seem real. Her clothes and Air Jordans are in her closet and sometimes the Hamiltons expect her to walk in the door, clean the bathrooms (her chore) or work in Rodney’s office. After a leave of absence, Latistia returned to her job at the Mobile County Metro Jail to find a bit of normal again. After all she has been through, she still looks for ways to be kind and encourage prisoners, even the ones convicted of murder.
“I could be a bitter person who hated everything, but why?” she says. “I want young people to realize there is more to life than a gun. They don’t know the joys of life and how to appreciate it. We don’t deserve to lose a child like this, but God has been good to us and he is the reason why I am who I am. He kept me in my right mind during the hardest time of my life and kept me and Rodney strong together. I hate to see my child leave us, but I am so thankful for the 16 years of hearing, ‘Mama, Mama, and Daddy, Daddy.”
The Hamiltons created Raven’s Promise Scholarship through the Fuse Project to bring something positive from their pain and keep Raven’s memory alive. This year, they raised $1,500 for the scholarship given to a senior at Murphy High School
Jim Godwin is a 93-year-old pilot and World War ll veteran who lives in Homestead Village in Fairhope. Planes became his passion while he served in the Army in North Africa. He couldn’t afford flying lessons when he returned home so he bought a surplus warplane with the little money he had and taught himself how to fly. He worked his way through pilot training, testing, and certifications. There were entry-level jobs of cleaning and ticket taking before he became a pilot and then flight division vice-president at Southern Airways. On November 10, 1972, he guided the airlines’ response to one of the first and strangest hijackings in U.S. aviation history. The hijacking began in Birmingham, Alabama, and went to Toronto, Orlando, and Cuba (twice). It lasted three days and started Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and tighter airline security.
Godwin turned 93 in April and flew a plane on his birthday, his first time to fly in “twenty-something years.”
“It felt like old times,” he says. “The first time I made a beautiful takeoff, circled the field and landed with what we used to call in the airline industry a ‘grease job.’ Just greased it on the runway. The second time was terrible. The third time I flew up and down the coast between Fairhope and Point Clear and the landing was incredible, but not quite a grease job. It drew a crowd and it all came back. The same feel, the same touch, the same everything. That’s my life. That’s my soul. I am grateful to have the mentality and skills to still fly and I am going to do it once a month.”
Mallory Nottenkamper was a substitute teacher in my spin class. As she pushed us through jumps and hills with her athlete’s body, she said that she once weighed 308 pounds. That was her weight in the 10th grade when her grandfather asked if she was going to be a Sumo wrestler. The joke was devastating, even for the girl who used fat jokes to hide her embarrassment.
“It was August 16, 2010, I was 16, and thought, ‘That is it, I am done,’ she says. “I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want them to know if I failed. The next day I started with mailboxes and ran as hard as I could from one mailbox to the next and then walked to the next one.”
Run. Walk. Run. Walk. She could slowly see the progress one mailbox at a time. One day she ran between two mailboxes and looked in the mirror and saw a change, it was the motivation she needed to keep going.
“I didn’t ask for help because I have a very strong will and was devoted to losing weight,” she says. “The first 20 pounds dropped off and no one else noticed but me, but I could see the difference in my clothes. It took me three years to lose 180 pounds, that is someone who weighs more than I do now. At 308 pounds, if you had told me there was an athlete inside me that would one day run five miles, I never would have believed you. Now I love to encourage other people and help them find their inner athlete, too.”
Vivian, a mom in Mobile, started Wonderfully Made Gourmet Organic Treats with her kids because they wanted to have their own business and work together. Clinton, with his drink The Clintonian, is one of Mobile’s favorite bartenders and has been clean and off drugs for 12 years. He loves to serve customers and helps care for the city’s “forgotten people” because he was once one, too.
Elvira fell in love with a stranger through letters even though he lived in Detroit and she lived in Brazil. They didn’t speak the same language, and he didn’t care that she only has one arm. They were married for 33 years until he died of cancer nine years ago. She is happy with the life she had and will never love another man again.
“I wish everyone could have a love like I had,” she says.
These are the people who I want to be role models for my kids. Not a man who believes it is “better to be infamous than never be famous” (another rule) or who takes pride in being the villain in politics. It is the people who will never be infamous or famous who deserve the attention. Latistia took a job in a jail to provide good insurance and a little more for her kids and Mallory will soon graduate as a physician assistant because she wants to help others live a healthier life and know that someone cares.
“Hate is a more powerful motivator than love,” may be the rule in Roger Stone’s world, but “love is a more powerful motivator than hate” is the rule in mine. It’s my job to make sure my son learns the difference.