Monday, January 23, 2006

Responsible and Responsibility

“These things do happen and do you stop these things from happening?...NO”. Opera diva La Carlotta in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Last week I was walking home from a night out when I saw a group of young men following two young women. They were shouting things, many of a sexual nature. The women walked behind some buildings. Their pace increased. Their body language altered, fear replacing fun. It was dark. The men followed, still shouting.

What was I to do? The young women had made a rather daft decision by choosing to walk away from the public highway and in to a hidden self designed path.

I felt helpless for a few seconds. When I had walked my drinking partner back to their car (two minutes away) I hastily moved back to my last sight of the two small groups. I was going to use my bicycle to venture around to the void behind the large ‘hanger-style’ buildings. What would I do when I got there? What would I see? Was I over-reacting? Being stupid?

Upon entering the road where I would make my diversion I saw the young men again. There were still 6 of them. They had discovered that the flat
‘Cement bag’ trolley is a great laugh when mounted by a couple of your mates. Up and then down again across the grass mounds at the roadside. Taking an occasional dip on to the busy road, spinning close to oncoming traffic, the group seemed less threatening. I felt relief and headed home.

When I was a much younger person I had a group of friends who were fairly irresponsible. One of their activities was to throw pieces of tree in front of vehicles on a 30 mile an hour stretch of road. I don’t like saying it (but acknowledging mistakes should teach us) but under pressure from my friends, I also had a go or two.

It’s odd that I was able to control my consumption of alcohol to a safe level when with them. I never took drugs or even smoked with them. I never worshipped the ‘God’ of our group despite valuing his friendship more than anyone else’s (one of my other friends would give this kid milk and a carrot when we went to his house and give the rest of us nothing– yes that’s funny in hindsight). I never ‘snogged’ the girl who was ‘available’ or apparently ‘up for anything’ because my mate said I should do. I always followed my own mind and my own heart. I NEVER did anything because of so-called peer pressure and never did anything in a futile attempt to fit in.

How dare I suddenly use this ridiculous excuse then for a really irresponsible thing that I did. To hurt someone knowingly takes a certain sort of person that I am certainly not. To act irresponsibly? How do you judge that? What I did was potentially far more serious than hitting someone in the face (even with a crunched up fist). How many people could my one, maybe two ‘logs’ have killed?

How many people could the 20, 30 maybe, logs that others threw while I watched have killed?

It is odd then that even knowing how wrong this type of irresponsible behaviour is, that I still fail to link it to its worst full potential.

Yet any hint of an attack with intent sends me in to some bizarre ‘Clark Kent as Superman’ moment. Why is fear, anyone’s fear, so unnerving? Terrifying? Upsetting?

The unknown is the thrill of life. But forcing the unknown on to anyone with or without pre-meditated consideration is wrong.

In the future I, for one, will really try to view aggressive or threatening behaviour and reckless disrespect for others with the same eyes, the eyes given to me by those ‘things’ that I love…


Post a Comment

<< Home