The great thing about being able to string a sentence together is that you hardly ever have to resort to fisticuffs to get your point across. If you are able to articulate your point of view, you never have to punch people who don’t understand the point you have been able to make. I have only ever lashed out in anger once in my life. I was at school and some urchin was flicking the back of my legs with a bike chain in the playground. I got fed up and thumped him.
The people who resort to physical violence outside the school yard are almost invariably unable to use the language they need to make a point they feel strongly about. The habit of a lifetime given a moment of potential conflict is to resort to the easiest way to make a point most forcefully. For me I can deliver a withering castigation or defuse a nasty situation by using the spoken word or body language. I once dissuaded a motorcycle gang member from kicking the head off a rival’s body as he lay on the ground. I have talked my way out of many potential scraps in my younger years at parties & pubs when someone took affront to you looking the wrong way or wearing the wrong clothing. I do not want to have a fight and have always gone down the route of talking out the real or imagined issue and it has invariably been resolved without a scuffle. Once you grow out of the folly of youth you are even less likely to need to fight people. Provided of course you paid at least some attention at all in school so as to have, at worst, a casual relationship with the language you speak.
This is the thing. Regardless of the language you speak or the culture you come from, very few people will seek a route of confrontation rather than conviviality. There are those who for reasons unknown to us (or themselves) who have some things going on in the recesses of their brain which causes them to react badly or what we could term in a ‘over the top’ fashion to things that have upset them. This can be down to stress or state of mind at any given time of the day. I have done it myself, many times. My wife despairs of my willingness to make a mountain out of a molehill. I prefer to think of it as my crusade against lacklustre service but that’s another story.
There are people walking the streets who are dangerously, monumentally stupid also. They are called violent criminals, or muggers, or worse. They are not like regular people so don’t really count as part of the general public. They are like lice or parasites; every level of the food chain has some. These are ‘people’ who have decided that the contents of your pocket or sitting room have more merit than their own worthless belongings; they will use pointy, sharp or loud things to convince you to let them have your stuff. They haven’t figured out that it might be better not to spend life in prison for making a silly mistake and killing you while taking your mobile phone or trainers. They are an aberration of society though, among us in society but not part of the vast majority which we would call normal. Much like the Islamic extremists, Bankers, Trade Union leaders and Guardian Newspaper readers.
Back to my point. We hear much talk of those who wish us harm. We are sold a daily diet of terror alerts, crime rates, drunk drivers, paedophiles, dangerous dogs and if you are a Daily Mail reader, immigrants, ‘travellers’, the daily activity of Kim Kardashian and reality television ‘stars’. What most of us want though, the people you are far more likely to come into contact with or see moving about nearby is just normality. We want to go out for supper and have a glass of wine. We want to watch something on television that inspires or informs us. We like to sit in our garden with a piece of cake and watch the wildlife over the fence. We like to loaf about with a magazine or a good book or watch a bit of sport or culture. Go on holiday or win the lottery. We all want to do this. We want to interact with the other people we meet and learn new things. 99.5% of the people of the world want this. But somehow we are sold a line that the world is an evil place with a pitfall at every corner. It’s probably Rupert Murdoch’s fault but I can’t be sure.
Even in our current world state. The chap we are most suspicious or wary of who wears sandals, a frock shirt, baggy trousers and an upturned paper pie plate on his head. You know, the Muslim gentleman once of the sub-continent. Actually like us all he really wants is for his children to do well at school and not be beaten up for their lunch money. He just wants to go to Mosque and pray for the things he cares about. His prayer is a million times more likely to be for his business to succeed or his family is happy and safe than to ask for all the infidels heads to be cut off on the internet. They have a different culture to us but I will wager a large sum that like us they are happiest when among friends talking of shared interests and remembering lives lived and futures imagined.
You might be from a tree in the Amazon but I will still bet you would rather spend time with a smile on your face instead of fist fighting with the neighbours.
We sat in a restaurant in France when this occurred to me. France has a pretty diverse populace. Many races, religions and colours. Not as multi-cultural as London of course, but we sat there watching people of at least a dozen different nationalities in eating & drinking establishments over a couple of nights and you know what. Not one of them was looking to engage the other in a fight to the death. Of course we have many people who devote their lives to doing us harm but even in their spare time they will be laughing and joking with the people who they spend time with when they aren’t busy plotting our grisly demise. Society has many faults. I am not someone clever or even moved enough to try to begin to offer a solution but I do know that pretty much all people would rather smile, eat with friends and laugh among themselves than live a life of hate, anger and crime. Let’s enjoy the majority who are happy to say hello and not get too worked up about the tiny few who want to hurt us. They will almost all grow out of it.