The Hatfields and McCoys represent feuds that happen between families, or group of people, that are full of prejudice so strong that it results in deadly violence. These two families were divided by a narrow “walk on” bridge that crossed a small creek from West Virginia into Kentucky. One family lived in West Virginia and the other family in Kentucky, which provided each family their own set of laws to live by since both states were “sovereign.” Even then, where one state’s laws were not satisfactory to the other family then they took justice into their own hands, resulting in death due to vengeance, grudges, and hate for one another. A comment made to the McCoys by a Hatfield was “do not bring up God again just to say whose side God sits on,” threatening the McCoy with death for claiming that they have the right to hate the Hatfields because of God’s justice. The possibility of assimilation did not happen until the lead Hatfield declared his peaceful intentions citing that “hate and war has abated within him.” From here, we will talk about how assimilation is only possible when hateful and intolerant attitudes abate in us, making it possible for peace and harmony to mold one another.
What lesson could the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys teach us about relating to the divinity of our soul? Their attitude towards those on earth reflects what is circulating through their inner being, thus revealing the extent of their relationship to divne goodness. Both families of the Hatfields and McCoys were proficient with the use of weapons such as knives, hatchets, and guns to do harm to one another, but were much less proficient in relating to the divine presence in them. The interesting point is that both families were claiming God as their source of condemnation and vengeance, or defending themselves from a warring “God” in the name of a righteous and universal God. Although both families wanted to maintain a “church going, God loving” image, the feud burned deeply within them with hate and violence. That burning grudge stood as a barrier to the inner fruitfulness, tranquility, respect for life, light of our divine worth as God’s vessels, and blocked positive energy from flowing in what they said and done. Therefore, assimilation and tolerance is possible only when we harmonize ourselves with the intelligent spiritual presence that lives in our soul, which is the same from neighborhood to neighborhood, state to state, and nation to nation.
The feud between the Hatfields and McCoys bring some lessons relating to the spiritual fruit. As a reminder, the spiritual fruit manifest in various ways and in the most unpredictable circumstances, which include kindness, goodwill, gentleness, meekness, joy, goodness, self-control, patience, love, peace, faith, and perseverance. The Hatfields represent an attitude where there was compassion and hospitality for people no one else cared for, but they were also quick to pick up a gun against the McCoys for the hardness of intolerance. The Hatfield family had a son that was a “bastard” which in those days of the late 1800’s was a horrid and shameful situation, but being the “evil” people that the Hatfields were, they accepted him with loving arms. Father Hatfield spoke words to the “bastard” along these lines to reassure the boy of his place of belonging with the family, ” a bastard is someone who has no one to love them, is that you? NO! Everyone here loves you.” In contrast, the McCoy family were very dogmatic and unaccepting of their daughter when she was pregnant out of wedlock, which was a very taboo circumstance. Father McCoy put the daughter away and would not recognize her any longer as a McCoy, based on his religous dogma to condemn and punish such behavior. The baby she was carrying died one year after birth. Where one family was able to accept people that were shunned and different from a “proper” community of people, the other family acted in the “proper” way by claiming their right to exact God’s wrath and punishment. Inwardly, the feud would continue to burn as the blossoms of the spiritual fruit would fade because of the inability to relate to the beliefs and attitudes of the other. Once again, we see how essential it is to let religious dogma, grudges, and prejudices abate within us so that assimilation can happen through tolerance. That tolerance and assimilation results as the fruit of the spirit flowers in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Feuds akin to the Hatfields and McCoys has severe consequences to human health. That’s because hostility mixing with prejudices closes our soul to fruitfulness of mind, emotions, and behaviors. The mind becomes full of turmoil as emotions churn with agony and behaviors that cross the line into anti-social deeds. It affects the well-intended in each family because of the incomprehensible prohibitions of having positive feelings for people on the “wrong” side of the fence. Mrs. McCoy was tiring mentally and emotionally from all the feuding, so Father McCoy sent his wife far away from the feud into a mental health clinic, which in those days were called insane asylums with unfathomable abuses occurring. Was she really insane, or just not so loyal to the McCoys as the desire for a healthy home environment began to prevail? One lesson for sure, we must keep ourselves open to the qualities that blossoms with tolerance to allow assimilation with one another, and to bring soothing comfort to our health. Those blossoms of tolerance, assimilation, and good health come by the spirit of self-control, patience, and perseverance.
There is no safety or security for anyone when a large scale feud exist as the Hatfields and McCoys. There was a lot of physical violence resulting in death due to the feud, and many “neutral” citizens were victims who were caught in the middle of the hostilities. Insecurities abounded everywhere because of the unsafe environment. Along with that destructive behavior, there was also the domestic abuses of family members who suffered various horrible punishments to keep them loyal to a specific family. The word stabilty was not in the vocabulary of the families feuding, everyday there seem to be a new reason to cause further chaos and affliction. The lesson is easily learnable that the process of assimilation comes through tolerance where the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and peace prevails.
OUR PLACE OF BELONGING
When there is a feud on the scale of the Hatfields and McCoys, an acceptable place of belonging is like finding a needle in a haystack, OUCH! There was a lot of hatred, intolerance, no intimacy, and segregation spewing from the attitude of the McCoys to the Hatfields and visa versa. In public places where people would gather to shop etc., there was always the hesitation to mingle with one another. That hesitation came from the fear of not being sure of one persons affiliation to the feuding families. To find a real place of belonging it was necessary to affilate yourself with one of the feuding families, or to huddle safely behind the closed doors of your homes with “Mom, Dad, brother, and sister.” Even then, there were ripples within the Hatfield family, McCoy family, and neutrals in the community that felt a compulsion for tolerance and assimilation through the spirt of love, goodwill, and kindness.
The Hatfields and McCoys placed no worth on the opposing family which led to the desire to destroy one another. In fact, the Hatfields and McCoys felt no value for people who were “sympathizers,” relatives, or bosom buddies with the opposing family. In those rare instances when a well-intended McCoy female became pregnant with a well-intended male Hatfield, the male and female were isolated from each family and the baby considered worst than a “bastard.” The humiliation and degradation of being considered worthless by the families, and even those in the community, was very much pain to bear relating to inner esteem, opinion of self, and the direction of life their behaviors would drive them. In addition, the lack of value held for others on the basis of what family they belong to led to further acts of violence to the “no good, no account” opposers. One quip from the daughter McCoy to Father McCoy summarizes the situation; Father McCoy said something to her about praying and she retorted “I pray everyday to God and He ain’t hearing, it’s you who sets yourself up as God in this house and I still don’t have what I want!” She was referring to the children, husband, and family love and esteem in the community that she desired. In that light, we realize that assimilation comes when we are tolerant of the desire for inner fruitfulness, allow tranquility to blossom, encourage the softness of life, foster the light of our divine worth, and welcome positive energy for one another in what we say and do.
It’s near impossible to express ourselves openly to express who we really are during a feud like the Hatfields and McCoys. To go into a public place and identify yourself as a Hatfield would be done with the awareness that a McCoy, or McCoy sympathizer, would be behind you with an axe, ready to hit you over the head. Likewise, to identify yourself as a McCoy would also bring about similar consequences. Not only did the identity of the immediate families bring affliction upon themselves, but neutral people within the community felt prohibitions in freely saying and doing what they felt within themselves. Their fear came from speaking words or performing deeds that might be “partial” to either family. The negative energy that came as a result of the Hatfield/McCoy feud did much to “bottle up” what people really wanted to say and do. It’s safe to say that when there is positive energy in our self-expression, flowing from joy, goodness, and faith, a process of assimilation begins to happen through the optimistic spirit of tolerance.
Some people thrive on perpetuating an atmosphere of feuding akin to the Hatfields and McCoys. They do that by denying assimilation that comes by the spirit of tolerance. Instead of contributing to peace when personal differences exist, they are full of debate, arguments, and conflict. They also withhold the qualties of joy and optimism to thwart tolerance as they insert pessimism and sadness to avoid assimilation. Their idea of tolerating others is just enough to inspire integration to bring others on their side of the feud, to aid in the prohibition of those who are “different.” That’s the Hatfield and McCoy process of assimilation. Even so, acceptance of the divinity of every soul, which produces the spiritual fruit, brings universal assimilation through tolerance.
There are reservoirs of people who live and grow together with mean-spirited intolerance, warring against divine assimilation. The attitudes that exit those reservoirs are words and behaviors suggesting their superior right to exist, while degrading, hurting, and scourging dissenters. Those attitudes transfer directly through those who want to establish a “clan” on a large scale, while isolating those who divert from a philosophy of intolerance and exclusion. Indirectly, those attitudes transfer through those who prefer to “fight” than to be “pacifist,” but they trample on the spirit of tolerance and compassionate integration.
The desire to join sides sides in a feud enter us because we begin to detest being considered a worthless welcome mat. We attach ourselves to a “clan” where mean-spirited prejudices and exclusion of others is accetable and praised. The people susceptible to hosting the attitudes that cause feuds neglect the importance of assimilation, and lost the spirit of tolerance. They join “clans” that share hostile prejudices for lifestyles and beliefs that differ from their own.
We can interrupt feuds on the scale of the Hatfields and McCoys by searching for the divinity living in our soul. Within that divine presence exist soft, moist, and tender qualities that crave for tolerance, peace, harmony, and assimilation. In the presence of the spirit of love, peace, faith, and perseverance our thought processes, emotions, and behaviors will focus on unity through one love, one faith, one deity.