I walked past a fight on the way home from the tube last night. It broke out just as I turned off the main road and the streets were emptied of people. A group of guys spilled out from a pub, followed by a group of girls shrieking in high heels, and I felt my stomach turn as the aggression became audible and I saw the first raised arm.
I am not good with violence.
I have not encountered much, but each time I have, it has left a deep imprint.
I guess this is the same for most people only it’s not a common theme in conversation, so I sometimes amplify the sense of disconnection. How can we behave like this? I have internalised the incomprehension in the past and it has left me feeling vulnerable and alone.
My head went straight there last night. Fear. Incomprehension. Shock. Close down because I don’t want live in a world that I can’t understand. Shut off because it is safer than staying engaged. Polarise the world into good and bad because it is easier, somehow, to deal with when you categorise the not so nice stuff out –
I know that this is a bit different from my other posts but I wanted to write it because I don’t think that this polarisation is helpful; and I realised, when I got home, that holding the not so nice stuff alongside the nice stuff is very much part of the challenge.
I have, historically, not managed this very well.
And so, this post is not about condoning violence nor about reaching a point where it does not leave a deep imprint. It does not seek to explain a world that I have had limited exposure to and probably don’t really understand….but it is a reminder that the bravery and vulnerability and empathy I have been writing about are still relevant, despite the temptation I am now feeling to retreat and hide –
In fact, they are more so.
And, that the world is neither all good – or all bad – as I have tended to envisage, but a mixture of the two that is far harder to navigate and in which the emphasis can change, depending on what you see.