Repressed anger. It’s like a caged, starved, tormented wild animal. It’s going to find a way to maim or kill somehow. It has to. The energy can’t be contained.
I bumped into a local man. We chatted miscellaneously and pretty soon the subject of crime found its way into our conversation. It happens a lot here.
I don’t actually – ackshally – want to talk about it, because I know it’s a problem, I know it’s a societal ill, I know I have to be as watchful as I can without becoming paranoid. I’m as present as I can be in my own life. But some people feed off the fear like sharks around bloody chump, reveling in the “ain’t it awful” game.
Within seconds, our conversation had turned into a monologue of Shakespearean proportions, but without the poetry, wisdom – or developed character! I watched in a kind of awe mixed with dread and building repulsion as rage engorged the fellow’s body. Literally. The blood rose up his neck and his blood vessels started throbbing, his face reddened. He said if he ever caught anybody – and he was talking about non-whites – coming into his house he’d kill them – in and of itself an understandable reaction if such an the event has actually happened, but this was in premeditation. He was deliberately envisaging somebody breaking in, so he could get his rocks off. Let his anger out. His pleasure at the idea of hurting, beating up, torturing, killing somebody (an imaginary none-white person who didn’t at all exist anywhere in the world) with his bare hands, was visceral. Can pleasure at the idea of violence be visceral?
My awe changed to disgust and repulsion. Out came all the racism, spewing like putrid vomit. This wasn’t about the reality of intruders and protecting his privacy. It was about repressed anger needing an outlet and finding one in hatred of black and coloured people. Not even any real people, just imagined ones. I tentatively said “I understand your emotions but I don’t want to hear any more, you’re disturbing me”, which only succeeded in accelerating the pace and upping the content and volume of his rage. I thought he was going to attack me.
It’s hard to watch that in a movie, let alone in real life. “Disturbing” doesn’t come close to describing it.
Then he said he happened to be looking out the window and saw a man tear off his clothes and jump into a natural rock pool where his wife was swimming to try and have a cuddle with her, so he ran across the road and beat the man to a bloody pulp. He boasted about it, his body pumped up with a kind of narcissistic strutting. I imagined his inner core crawling with bloated worms eating off the corruption of his soul. Regretfully he told me the bastard got away. But there was blood, he said. Oh, he enjoyed telling me that.
I’m sure there was. But I wondered about the veracity of his story, I wondered whether the man was actually just throwing off his shirt and diving into the pool with perfectly natural pleasure. It’s a public pool. I also wondered when the K-word was going to appear. This is a man who if an indigent non-white person knocks on his door, he’ll throw them down the stairs. Man woman or child. Literally. With great pleasure. And he’ll boast about it.
I realized being polite wasn’t going to work here. I said I don’t want to hear any more and walked away.
I felt violated.
If you don’t have inner permission to express your anger, this is what happens. It’s going to come out somehow in a channel where there is inner permission. In a post-colonial society there’s no permission to be angry in a real way, because that’s unpleasant, it’s weak it’s whatever. There’s no permission to be real. We still live in such potent straightjackets here. Emotions are so suppressed they become black holes of compacted, pressurized violence thrusting inexorably towards whatever outlet is available, no matter how unhealthy.
The permission, an old one which is still horribly alive, is to be angry with anybody whose skin isn’t white. Where does it come from? I can’t get my head around it. It’s just a flipping skin colour for god’s sake. Bad enough that it ever began, but that it’s perpetuated now is utterly incomprehensible to me.
What I witnessed yesterday was a man caught in a time warp unable to deal with and seek healthy outlets for his own massively backlogged fear and anger, channeling it into the only thing he’s got inner permission for – rabid persecution of non-whites. Building an imaginative case against whole races just so that he could justify spewing his inner corruption. What a pressure-cooker.
It wasn’t a pretty sight. Unfortunately it’s not entirely a rare one, either, to varying degrees of intensity. I’m surprised South Africa doesn’t have a Klu Klux Klan. Maybe it does and I just don’t know about it.
When I experience this at close quarters it’s hard for me to believe in the goodness of humanity, to believe that all life originates from something that is good, that nobody is evil, just incomplete.
He scared me, and my own anger and prejudice rose up, against people who prefer to punish others than face their own truth and deal with it, because it’s easier. People who look for scapegoats, who portray themselves as decent, upstanding citizens and who are looking for somebody to maim.
I guess I don’t have the right to judge him, he’s got his own demons. But I do have the right to hate what he stands for and despise his permissions, and I have the right to refuse to enable and support him. I sure am never going to have another conversation with him. It’s no use trying to engage him – he’ll turn the spigot onto me. Nobody’s ever going to convert him. I wonder where it’ll end.
He should volunteer as a mercenary somewhere, then he can kill and mutilate with impunity. Get paid for it.
On the surface he’s charming and sociable. But my alarm bells have always rung with him. In fact he’s always made my skin crawl. Now I know why. We sense the inner dynamic before it shows on the outside, but in the end, the truth is always going to come out. Can’t hide it forever.
Love your neighbours? No thanks. I can respect that he has his own journey and the right to it, but I don’t have to like it, and I don’t want any part of it. I can appreciate (barely) that sharks have a place on the planet, and respect their intrinsic right to existence and their own journey, but I don’t have to like them. And I’m not going to hang out with them and place myself close to their gaping bloody jaws, am I?
There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to walk away from him. I’d have stayed until his anger spent itself, a prisoner of my own lousy entitlement. I wouldn’t have been able to stop him poisoning my world.
I’d have hung out close to the shark’s jaws, and got bitten.
Not any more.