I had just left work, and was enjoying a slow walk reading my book, as I traversed The Meadows, with the sun on my face and a soft breeze ruffling my hair. I don't own very much, but, I have enough. I saw you from a distance, but didn’t care to identify a single threat from your group of five. I saw the thick necks, broad shoulders, and the tins of export beer hanging from your brawny swinging arms. Your clothes and haircuts identified you as living on a low income. I might look different, I have to present well for work, but like you, I imagine, its pretty much hand to mouth for me. There are few people looking out for me. I don't mean any harm in saying this. I'm a lot like you, as it happens.
The way you noticed me, I noticed you. I have learned also, to be aware of my environment. When a child is afraid, it learns to build a set of defences, in order to protect itself. Depending on how this skill is nurtured through life, an adult may go on to develop deep empathy for human beings, and show great concern for the safety of others. They may form very close bonds with people because they are in tune with the emotions of others. They may fight for the underdog. Or, they may take their power of observation, and use it to persecute. They may isolate those they perceive as weak and victimise them. Blame them. Subjugate them even, in the worst case scenario. I know, because I have experience of both. I was walking with my head down, in my book, as we passed, but I was watching. I gave you a wide berth, all the same. "You look like you got that from your Grandma, or your f**kin' Mum!" you called back, refering to a charity shop cardigan I was wearing. So, quite accurate really. But there’s something cool about it, you've got to admit. Battered or not, I love it, but anyway.
There was a time in my life, that I would have been begging for you to have bothered me. Begging for an opportunity to prove to myself that I was no longer that pathetic helpless little boy, so tired of being scared to death. I might have been subconsciously begging someone to give me the opportunity to vent the rage stuck inside. It builds up you know, over the years. The ripples of anger travel out across the lake of time, when a big enough rock is thrown into a childs life. Maybe thats why I joined the army, seeking an opportunity to fight back, and be with people I could trust to protect me. Well, it didn’t really go like that. I almost killed someone once. Not the enemy,though they were everywhere, but someone just like you who had turned their pain into victimisation. I took him apart, and I liked that he was bigger than me. I justified it to myself for many years as being his fault, but I didnt have to choose that outcome. It seemed the only option at the time, but I was just afraid. Afraid to keep being the victim. Afraid to be laughed at. More afraid of being humiliated than of being imprisoned.Maybe I didn’t really feel anything. My friends were afraid of me after that and I walked away. You can’t scare people who couldn’t be beaten any harder. But I didn’t want to be that kind of man. That’s the kind of man my dad was, and he passed that onto my Brother who then visited it upon me. I have had to fight off, my entire life, the Spiritual Adversary on my tail. But I don’t blame anyone. And I don't blame you. I recognise your lines in my own face. I know you’re angry. I know you need someone to blame. I know you have to appear dominant, because inside you are afraid of anyone seeing that little boy crying. I know this because of something I was given by my Mother.
I was given hope. I was given love. I was given forgiveness. I was given friendship. I was given a shoulder to cry on, when I really didnt think I have the strength to go on. Because she turned her pain and suffering into love, empathy and and kindness for all. She has a genuine selfless concern for the weakest of society, not just her own family. She has worn bruises in order to protect us. And now she emanates love to all she meets. She has sheltered more vulnerable and frightened people under her wing than anyone I know. She is still trying to help my Brother with his suffering, despite the difficulties it presents for both of them. She is the single most caring person I know. I would be lost without her guidance and acceptance. You know, she would care about you. She taught me by her own example to understand, and to be compassionate. I’ve learned that things are never black and white. There's always a story, and wherever possible we should show care to those who are suffering, because we all suffering, whether we realise it or not. She tells me that at a deep level, it is all Spiritual, and faith urges her to meet all with Love. I guess, religious or not, it’s a noble ideal.
In the absence of light,
Man must navigate
by Instinct alone.
Crushing underfoot the torch bearers,
And cursing those who point the way,
You have learned to cherish the hatred you wear as armour.
Who am I to judge?
It’s ok, I understand.
Be well fellow human, you have value.
David Frederick Avery, May 2016.