Yesterday I came to a realisation. It was quite small one in its own way but had larger implications. I was in the gym on a cross trainer, which is boring most of the time as the scenery doesn't change like when you go running.
During my workout I was remembering seeing the movie Spartacus when I was a child. I had started watching it about an hour into the film so missed most of the exposition about why he rebelled against his Roman masters, not to mention why he went apeshit in the kitchen at the ludus. I've always had a hang up about people being forcibly drowned in movies, and not long into a fight he got his trainer Marcella in a complicated hold and dunked his head in a big vat of soup. Marcella managed to pull his face out twice but Spartcaus wasn't having any of it and held him under until he stopped kicking.
This scene was creepy to me and having missed the first chunk of the film I didn't understand why Spartacus had killed another man in such an unpleasant, degrading and humiliating fashion. Inhaling broth into your lungs, with your arse up in the air isn't the way I want to go out. I was pleased when Spartacus was crucified at the end and for years felt "sorry" for the poor man he'd suffocated in a big tub of slave gruel.
It was only when I saw the movie in its entirety that I finally realised "Oh, hang on! Marcella was a bullying cunt who deserved much worse than that."
Even so...part of me was still thinking "Couldn't Spartacus have used a knife? I mean....really?"
The reason for this perspective harks back to my childhood and adolescence. I grew up being told that I should see things from other people's perspectives or try to understand why they had done something negative. This in itself is a fine life lesson and a solid grounding for compassion. However I was also told my lazy, impatient auhority figures that the other person obviously had their "reasons" for hurting me or acting like an arsehole. Furthermore I didn't "understand" just how that person felt and I had undoubtedly brought down their mood and "made them do it"....whatever it might be.
At school this included incidents of teachers lashing out and hitting me or other pupils. In the 1970s and 1980s corporal punishment was in its dying days and some teachers used it just to vent their spleens when feeling grumpy. A fat piece of shit called Roger Jenkins who taught PE and History at
took great delight in lamping errant boys. When I complained at home about him
walloping a friend of mine my mother tersely replied "What's he supposed
to do if that boy won't stop talking?!" Even though what he'd done went
far beyond 'reasonable chastisement.' Kenilworth School
Another History teacher named Mr Casewell called up a lad to the front of the class and repeatedly shoved him probably 30 times or more in the chest while shouting in his face. His crime? Saying "Hiya Rich" to a new lad in the class as he'd walked in.
My mother's reaction?
"Maybe he'd had a hard day and seeing that boy shouting across the room like that was just too much for him."
In all walks of life there were always reasons to excuse cunty behaviour. Cycling my bicycle down the alleyway next to my house at the age of 15 I was grabbed by a 'grown up' who put his hand around my throat and pushed my head against the wall, as well as grabbing my arm so hard I had bruises. All the while he was promising to set the police on me for cycling in a pedestrians only zone. I ran straight in and told my parents...who did fuck all and later said that my complaints of "being assaulted in the alley" were exaggeration and all it probably was, was "a bloke sick of kids riding their bikes down the alley."
Throughout my life I've been told that I had forced someone to act against their normally benevolent and kind nature. I was the reason they exploded with rage, I was the cause of them lashing our or even breaking the law. I hadn't been sympathetic enough I hadn't empathised enough. Maybe I thought I had but I hadn't.
A friend of my mother's had a daughter a couple of years younger than me. She didn't like me and would invariably go "Urggh...it's you" when she met me when I was about 12 or 13. I was specifically told this was my fault and I must be doing something wrong in order to make this awesome spectacle of feminine childhood loveliness not want to converse with me. My parents met her and her parents on holiday a year or so later and it was reported back to me that she'd said "I used to hate him but I think he's OK now." I was also told that I should be pleased about this bit of intel.
At the time I was constantly thinking, "What did I do? What could I have done differently? Why did she hate me? My parents are siding with her so it must be my fault."
My complaints that I didn't like her either were brushed off with "Well you should do! What's wrong with her? No wonder you haven't got any friends!"
Retrospectively she was just an opinionated, stuck up piece of dog shit.
At the age of 19 I was held down at the pub I worked in, by the two bouncers while one cut my hair. Afterwards I believed what I was told. That Steve had warned me to cut my hair and as it looked horrible it was my fault and my fault alone that he'd felt compelled to take matters into his own hands. I had made him annoyed and therefore it was my responsibility.
At the age of 24 a woman I both lived and worked with named Vicky Binns threw a cup of coffee in my face at work in front of everyone because I told her to "go away" as she stood next to my desk, trying to lecture me on not having done the washing up that morning. She could have blinded me, but after I returned from both the doctor's and home where I'd changed into fresh clothes...I was told by our colleagues (who hadn't witnessed it) that I had 100% made Vicky do it as I could be "very irritating" at times, especially first thing in the morning. Later Vicky told me that I couldn't come back to the house (not her decision to make) until I paid her back £75 I owed her. My mindset of the time was that I MUST have provoked her beyond endurance, especially as I was the victim of a serious criminal assault that no one gave a shit about. When I hugged her, promised her all was OK and said I'd pay her back in the morning she then admitted to having gone home in her lunch break, broken into my bedroom and stolen my passport in case I left her in a "vulnerable position." I only saw this from her perspective at the time which was that I must have warranted this criminal and bullying behaviour from her.
20 years later and I still wish at the VERY least, that I'd busted her teeth out for what she did, whereas I in fact did nothing whatsoever....because I was seeing it from the perpetrator's perspective.
Vile piece of shit Raoul Moat shot an unarmed police officer in the face (who he ambushed) just because he was pissed off. After Moat later shot himself during a stand off with police, Chavvy fuckwits were leaving flowers at the scene of his death, lamenting the system for "letting Moaty down." He didn't have to take responsibility for blinding PC David Rathband...oh good heavens no! It was the system's fault.
Personally I hope Moat died in agony.
When I was a trainee police officer we had a visit from two dribbly liberals from the Youth Offending Team. The woman waxed lyrical about Michael who had drunk 10 pints of Stella Artoys (she pronounced it like that) and then gone out and kicked an innocent man's teeth out because England had lost a World Cup soccer match. She paid basic lip service to the victim of Michael's crime but enthused about how they'd got this vicious, psychotic, spoilt little cunt into carpentry and were trying to persuade him to write a letter of apology to the bloke he'd beaten up (who has been off sick with mental issues since it happened, faces £6000 of dental treatment and had broken up with his fiance).
I hope someone sets Michael on fire.
Something I see in the news a lot in the
is excuses being made for young Muslim men who turn to the unpleasant, radical
and murderous side of Islam. People will blame the English police, the
government and unemployment for these lovely, innocent young cherubs taking up
arms against the nation they live in and wanting to impose fucking Sharia law
on us. We are told that there must be reasons for these people to act the way
Converseley when the EDL march against immigration they are only seen as soulless racists.
UKIP aren't racist but Nigel Farage is constantly painted as a xenophobe who hates foreigners. No one asks why he feels this way as it is automatically assumed that he's just a bastard.
The little voice in my head constantly says "maybe this is why" when I see or experience conflict. Maybe they're having a hard day. Maybe they don't know what they're doing. Maybe they have a good reason.
Ultimately no one should cross personal boundaries without a FUCKING good reason. Seeing things from other people's point of view at the expense of your own does nothing except create a victim mentality and condone unacceptable behaviour.
They may well have their reasons, but if those reasons cause me to suffer, I really no longer give a shit.
All the excuses in the world do not excuse people from taking responsibility for their own actions or inactions.