I could hear the shouting, not far from me a little to my left, a domestic I thought. No surprise really considering my location, right in the middle of Kmart’s new shop in Hamilton. Where else would it happen? I looked over to see what was happening and immediately started to move and form a plan, from defcon 5 to defcon 1 in 10 seconds. he stood there face straining, eyes, bulging, hand raised, I quickened my pace, without any more thought I put myself in between them. This wasn’t a man preparing to assault his partner, actually I won’t call him a man, this was a male who had just been told that his driving was inappropriate. The store is newly opened and there were people everywhere he obviously had been inconsiderate in the situation and someone had told him. Instead of apologising he became abusive and angry and was at the point of assaulting the person whom had called him to account. As I told him to back way to move off and go away, he squared up, thought about hitting me, and then moved back. A wise decision on his part at a number of levels, I will talk about that more later.
Management came and placated the individual eventually, a totally inadequate response in my opinion, he should have been shown the door and told not to come back for two years, trespassed and be done with it. The tolerance we have in New Zealand society for violence, bullying and posturing like this is an insidious ugliness that needs stamping out. There was a large audience by the time I intervened, but I don’t blame them for hanging back, the audience just made what he was doing even more, Woman and children were there, and the coup de gras was his partner and children watching on, undoubtedly nothing new to them, she muttered calming encouragement to him as he bleated the injustice of it all to anyone who would listen.
He epitomised the stereotype of abusers and bullies, unkempt, dressed poorly in America they would call him trailer or white trash. Easy meat to label him, along with the rest of “those” people. The trouble with people like that especially men is they have been getting away with that behaviour all their lives, they grew up as bullies and perpetuate that in their relationships and give it to their children as a poison laced inheritance. A lack of leadership in their lives and a lack of accountability, the curse of the underclass, or is it? You see the behaviour that they see modeled is behaviour that is admired, rewarded and almost worshipped when it comes from people who wear suits and a cloak of responsibility. The very people that make our laws and tell us what to do. Raising a voice against them however doesn’t get a hand raised to you, not theirs, nor does it result in a public cursing nd name calling, well not by them. Most of them set their attack dogs on them, the Cameron Slaters of this world, Rottweilers whom attack on command, either for pleasure or reward, it matters not. That is the behaviour modeled by our politicians, not that this excuses his behaviour. We may not have choice about all that happens to us however we can have choice about responses.
I said that his choice not to engage in a physical response with me was wise, I will tell you why, you see I am like him in some ways if I tell the truth. Right now I am angry, I haven’t been like this for a long time. I feel frustrated and helpless on many levels, taken advantage of, abused and maligned, sick of people who will not take responsibilty for their actions, people who don’t know how to say sorry, how to just step up and make it right. I am sick of bigots, racists, and bullies. I am so fed up with these people that had he assaulted me I would have enjoyed teaching him a lesson, I had to restrain myself from escalating the behaviour, remind myself of what I so disliked, nay hated about his behaviour and to choose firmness and control, integrity over momentary satisfaction, a choice that I have had to make on more than one occasion over the past weeks. To maintain a mask of calmness whilst inside I rage against the storm.
Something has to change I am worn out and fatigued from the fight, the pain and tiredness. I am afraid I will wake up one morning and be done with it all, and yet I know that I will continue to care, and hopefully to choose integrity in the full knowledge that I live in a world of injustice and inequality, that my fight is one that many others have battled and that I know what is right and just. I know this because I have looked in the mirror, I have recognised the evil shallow man that lives in all of us and I accept and try to live in the grace that has been accorded to us on the cross. That I am in many ways no better than any of “those” people. My difference is that my battle is internal. that I know the truth of Romans 5:8.
ps (please don’t tell me I am a good man)