Badges, was inspired in the usual way, that is in a conversation there was something mentioned that made my ears prick up. In this case, I was part of a conversation where someone bemoaned that a housing development had been filled up by Bull Terriers and a certain ethnic group. Neither labels are important in the end, what was interesting to me where the labels and why these were ascribed. The comment itself cannot be condoned and offensive however it is understandable, more on that later.
One of the things that I do in life is make judgements. I try not to but it is very natural, from commenting on people who wear their sleep-wear to the supermarket through to people who have certain kinds of piercings or tattoos. I make judgements about them most often based on the conditioning that I have received and to some part my lived experience of dealing with people. I have worked amongst people from all walks of lives, politicians, professionals, criminals. And those are just my friends…. Every one has a narrative in their life.
My first house I owned was in a low income area, it was a comfortable warm home, handy to schools and shops, a large park on my back doorstep quite ideal really but I came to loathe that place. Something changed in society and the once friendly neighbourhood came under significant stress that was manifested in increasing crime, graffiti, random violence, domestic violence and a general feeling of unease settled on the neighbour hood. The schools became difficult and there was a clear sense of deprivation. Our house was modest and our belongings modest but we were seen to be “rich” in the eyes of those neighbourhood children that visited. We needed to expand our living area and it would have made sense to renovate however we moved out. The catalyst was the screaming.
It was a quiet week if I had not rung for police assistance due to the sounds of domestic violence.
Hardwired to care I would call the Police and then go to look for the screaming hoping the Police would arrive soon but often ended up intervening, enough of that for now back to badges. The prized badge of many people who lived in that area was a dog, specific types of dogs, terriers to be precise. Pitbulls, English, whatever it did not matter as long as they looked aggressive. Often skinny underfed and mangy the children were but the dogs would be sleek and well fed, scarred most often but still well looked after. These badges were mostly desired by males, adults, children and adolescent but 99% male owners. These males would adopt a particular strut when out with their dogs, often resembling the gait of their dogs. The key feature was to appear to be as staunch and aggressive as possible. Ethnicity mattered not, European, Maori even people of Asian descent all the same.
One could apply a Freudian analysis and diagnose small man syndrome but Freud is inadequate in many ways. This badge of the dog speaks to me of a number of things, but above all else it speaks of disenfranchisement, that is not belonging. When I think of it badging in general arrives from the same position. It could be argued that people badge themselves in order to show that they belong, however it is my belief that here has been a huge growth over the last 25 years or so in the vivsible badges of society. It is universal over all facets of society, this need to badge, to display some identifiable symbol that says I belong. In the next few blogs I intend to look at some of these badges and then talk about the social structure and conditions that I think is driving this need to show that people belong.