A few beers, a walk down a street, a couple of words shared, a guy looks at you the wrong way, you look back at him, he doesn’t like it, your friends pull you away. He turns, he swings. You swing back. He swings again. You both survive and no one gets hurt. He hits you, you fall to the ground, you hit your head hard on the concrete. You get knocked out. You begin to bleed internally. You get rushed to hospital. You enter the intensive care unit. You die overnight. The other lad is arrested. He is hated. Nobody is happy. Mothers cry, girlfriends mourn, friends bleed tears from their eyes, everybody is defeated.
The story is nothing new and although many exclaim ‘it didn’t happen as much years ago!’ I disagree, I think there have always been fights, a lot of fights. And not many do end in death. But some do and particularly when the circumstances surrounding the beginning of such a fight come to be seen as so innocuous, it is all such a waste of time, energy and sometimes life. There are people out there who do it for fun, egged on by mates to cause a bit of trouble for a bit of a thrill. There are others who find themselves involved in a messy scrap with no desire to be there but what can you do? I don’t fight because I don’t want to get hurt or hurt someone, I don’t want to disappoint my dad and make my mum cry. I’m no pacifist, I don’t think it is natural to have a conflict free society and I do make a couple of comments here or there to keep someone in line or have a bit of a dig at them. It’s probably fuelled by alcohol, just like so many of the other scraps that begin as a minor bump or a couple of words and it escalates so quickly.
So how do you stop it? Some men are similar to caged lions. They don’t want to be held down by any authority, they want to run their own race but they are sort of trapped and then an opportunity to cause a bit of trouble comes along and they pounce on someone who is willing to open their mouth back or stare a little too long. It is a dangerous environment out there when the clock strikes midnight and it doesn’t get any safer until first light. David Cassai’s death has left me asking questions for more than a week now. The damage it has caused, the pain of the loss of a loved one, a community member, a young man. The circumstances surrounding the incident are obviously rather sketchy. Another man, and now fairly or not condemned to a life of guilt, regret and infamy, imprisoned. He is hated on social media, he will be spat on in public, he will never be able to live his life without pain now. And if he attacked David without provocation then yes, he deserves cold stares and a hard life. However, that is for the courts to decide. The media’s intense coverage of such a death is both good and bad. Good for the sake of publicising a horrible tragedy that gets people talking about how we can help change the attitude of young men, of older men, of women and children in terms of how to handle the streets. But bad for condemning another to guilt before the trial has even begun. A man’s life has been lost and it is fair enough for passion to be slung around like a bag of grapes however due course must not be affected by these intense outpourings of grief and hatred.
Anyway, off that sensitive example and onto a more general line of investigation. Are young men as dangerous as many portray or is it simply a few delinquents who give us a bad name? As a 22 year old male, I must say that the tension floats around popular clubs where pre drinks are essential and going hard is the norm. If you don’t know someone and they get a bit lippy or bump into you more forcefully than is acceptable, it is obvious that a little bit of tension will build. Are we angrier than past generations? I wouldn’t know, but it is more of a hot pot now. More cultures, more people, more men our age and more substances. Drugs cause different reactions in different people, just like alcohol. One person may want to kiss the floor and everyone around them whilst on a couple of pills while another may lament hardcore in a corner and begin to weep. Moderation has always been the option pushed forward by the governing bodies to kids and their parents and however responsible it is to suggest that this is the correct option, it is more commonly than not, avoided. Going out into the big wide world, figuratively speaking, is not easy. Some people take a while to adapt and many exude a sort of confidence that could only come with a feeling of immortality. It is hard to control a man who doesn’t see death or serious injury as an option. Do you then post signs telling people that ‘you could die tomorrow if you don’t take care’? Of course not. But education is paramount. And not bullshit lectures about how many standard drinks are in each glass of booze that we sink. We all know that. Drink driving has been enforced as a no-no, kids know that drugs aren’t great for you and don’t get into cars with strangers… you get the picture. Have we become desensitised? Are we sick of hearing the same messages? There is a point when you start to feel controlled, you start to feel stuck in this system where there is no room to be a delinquent, no room to express your individuality. This leads to frustration.
You can’t throw away the system, the system saves a lot of lives a year but for me it has become too patronising, too awash with SLOGANS THAT TELL YOU NOT TO FUCK UP. I know it is wrong, I know we all fuck up, I know I personally don’t want to but it happens. I don’t respond by going around hitting other blokes to express my frustration at my situation but I do feel it on the inside. I do feel the frustration of certain older people looking down with that all knowing eye and I wonder if they know what we experience. You can’t have a system that works without the involvement of all subsections of society. We are all learning as we go about our business so don’t repress those golden ideas, those spontaneous gestures. People need boundaries but people need to be able to feel a sense of involvement, a sense of being in it together. Ostracising individuals creates a whole new layer of delinquency, of insecurity, of utter frustration.
I hate seeing people fight, I hate that point when a little conflict becomes a horrible scene of violence but I also hate the feeling that every little move we make is being watched and judged. The danger of becoming an over policed society occurs when we want to halt the activities of every troublemaker in Melbourne and there needs to be some unrehearsed scenes of delinquency every now and then. There also needs to be a presence to stop these horrible tragedies from occurring but there also requires a strong sense that we all share a common interest. An interest to keep our society clean, interesting and cohesive because who wants to be stuck in a bland city of neutral faces and fast-food places.