Why does fear of convention challenge our sense of right and wrong?

One evening some time ago, I was on the bus when it stopped and three “rudeboys” jumped on. Typically, they each wore a hooded jumper, moved in a slow, gorilla-type fashion and had the same arrogant sneer on their faces, the archetype of their kind. Two were mixed Jamaican/English, the other black. (And yes, I can imagine the SS of political correctness getting riled up at the fact that I mentioned the words ‘Jamaican, black and gorilla’ in the same paragraph; not different to the white teacher who once innocently called a black child a ‘cheeky monkey’ and found her job on the line for it. Please … before hurling any absurd left-wing accusations of racism at me, at least read the post. For this is not a post about colour; even the most stupid of people know that evil comes in many shades, white, black, yellow or brown. *eye roll*).

It turned out that the boys had no money to get on the bus and the bus driver asked them to leave. They refused. The next few minutes was spent with them tormenting the bus driver, and one of them arrogantly remarking, “I’ve got alllll day to do this!” (Of course you do; you don’t exactly go to school or work). The bus driver, who quite frankly was a pretty weak specimen of a man, repeatedly asked them to leave, to which they continued to laugh and jeer in his face.

By this time, I had had quite enough. I often feel a boiling rage inside of me when I witness one group of people picking on a singular weak one. There is something about groups and gangs that I thoroughly dislike; I think it’s because those who are part of them are often cowardly weeds when they are on their own. I rose from my seat and stormed over to them, demanding they leave. Naturally, being a girl and slightly shorter than them, I was met with raucous laughter, one of them even having the audacity to ask where I was from. I threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave. More laughter. One of the boys grinned, turned his back to me and started swinging from the hinges of the bus door. There was something about the sight of his swinging back that instilled in me this overwhelming urge to push him off. And I did. Except he didn’t fly from the bus as I had hoped. Instead, he saved himself by clutching each side of the door with his palms. Each boy turned to face me and suddenly it wasn’t a laughing matter anymore. One boy urged another to ‘hit me’ and the boy he was egging on took a lunge for my bag. I held on to it tight but he succeeded in breaking the strap. Infuriated, I yelled at them and it was at that point that they jumped off the bus. The bus driver (who had remained quiet throughout the whole incident) asked me if I was alright and I told him to close the doors and drive on.

My thoughts on the matter are this. Firstly, the bus driver should have exerted more authority and ordered the boys off, no matter what measures it took. It is his job to protect his bus and his passengers, yet I believe that his fear of the boys caused him to submit the way he did. He did not let them on without paying but he stood for their disrespectful jeers. Bus drivers have to put up with an awful lot of crap these days; rude behaviour, scammers, filthy looks. But one thing they shouldn’t tolerate is such an overwhelming act of disrespect towards them. What kind of a society is this where an adult man will cower in fear to a bunch of sneering, teenage layabouts who have nothing better to do with their time than  cause grief to normal, decent citizens? Furthermore, what kind of society is this where grown men will sit passively on a bus and watch a girl confront three hoodlums and do nothing to assist?

For that is exactly what happened. There were grown men on that bus. In fact, the majority of people on the lower deck were grown men. Yet they all sat there and pretended that nothing was happening. The honest reason I believe this was for? Because of the pressures of convention. Conventional society states that you do not speak out or act when something our of the ‘ordinary’ occurs; it demands that you retain a level of ignorance and keep yourself to yourself. In other words, it ensures that we are surrounded by cowards who will stand and watch while injustice occurs, rather than stand and fight in order to do what is right. I was lucky; the boys could have had knives or guns. I could have been stabbed or shot. But this says less about me than it does about the complete out-of-control spiral that this society has become, where teens run rampant with weapons and the decent citizen lives in fear. And the politician sits comfortably in his home, completely disconnected with the outside world (and, quite frankly, where is his compassion for it anyway?)

Perhaps everyone should start questioning themselves as to why we live in a society that teaches us to do the wrong thing. And why we obey it. No one likes confrontation; I absolutely hate it but I will do it if it is the right thing to do. And allowing a bunch of rude, disrespectful teens to behave in such a disgusting manner is definitely not the right thing to do. The bus driver cowering in fright was not in the right; the grown men and women who turned a blind eye were not in the right. So what does society consist of? Rude, cruel individuals who will torment others, cowards who refuse to stand up for themselves and physically powerful people who prefer to remain in ignorance for their own safety? We run the risk of harm to ourselves when we challenge any form of evil in this world; those boys would have run away in fear, had even one of those men rushed to my aid, but they did not. What is sad is that if they had chosen to speak up, the strength in number would have ensured the victory.

Evil prevails when good men do nothing. Next time you witness an injustice, remember that.

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About skyespitfire

I tend to describe myself in several different ways when asked: 1) A tiger in the Chinese Zodiac. 2) A tornado that sweeps through people's lives. 3) A fed-up misanthropist who ironically has oodles of compassion for her fellow man. Aside from that, I am also 27 years old and based in London, England.

Posted on June 16, 2012, in Convention, Courage, Inspiration, Life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Well being a vigilante of justice does have it’s rewards. Not to sound confrontational but, as you mentioned, if they did have knives or guns, I doubt you would have confronted them. Think, would have it been really worth losing your life or running the risk over something like a bunch of teens hazing a bus driver? ( They most certainly would not be thinking of the consequences of their crime at the the time.) I recognize that you state “We run the risk of harm to ourselves when we challenge any form of evil in this world;” However,
    In some instances it is just simply not worth the risk for a situation like that. I am also fairly certain that those who refused to aid you were thinking the same.) You may have been regarded as a “hero” in the paper the next day, but at what cost? I think you may have misapprehended the concept of society. My notion is that society does encourage the act of others (not take the law into their own hands per se, but to go about the correct way of rectifying injustices.). Now, with that being said, it is the people themselves that feel it is not worth the effort to campaign against things as trivial as hazing or bullying or any other means. Even sometimes as extreme as the risk of terrorism. A term which applies specifically to that is ” If you see something, say something”. (People typically do not, not because society has opposed it or politicians lack concern, but because no one feels the urge to stand up against and put themselves at personal risk. My point is no one has instilled this type of behavior on them.

    “Society” as you label (very vaguely but clearly I know let me explain) contains all of us but consists of “rudeboys” “cowards” and so on, but you seem to direct blame on the “political side” (politicians abdicating duties mandated to protect others) of it. You also seem to believe that “society” schools us in the way to conduct yourself in a manner offensive to the community. I perceived it as society teaching us right from wrong and what is against the law and individuals, groups and gangs that find that opposition is in order for them. (Some more extreme than others.) Now I am sure what you encountered is not something you see everyday. In other countries I have been to, gang members walk around armed and do as they please. Do you really think anyone will take a stand to armed gang members and many have even seen what happens to those that do. That is until U.F.E comes in and starts breaking it up, here we see politicians coming to aid. So in turn, and as a result I think comparatively speaking, politicians (while the do take a lot of flak for shortcomings) do a remarkable job of managing a “society” where as places that don’t benefit from them, have catastrophic results.

  2. Thank you for your comment.

    My first thought after reading your post was that I must strongly oppose the belief that you have that society has a concept at all; while this may have been the original intention of society which dates back to the beginning of mankind, society’s ‘concepts’ are constantly changing. Back in the 13th century, ‘witch-burning’ was the common ‘concept’, one that we would scoff at today for its absurdity. In the Victorian Era, the concept was to be dignified to the point of prude. Today’s ‘concept’ if I am to interpret you correctly, is that we must not take any unnecessary risks that just aren’t worth it. If indeed this is the concept of today’s society, then what of the basic decency and morals that all human beings are supposed to feel? Wouldn’t you agree that society is detrimental to these morals and beliefs? I do not agree that it is right to downplay the sacrifices that one would make in order to achieve the greater good, no matter how trivial the circumstances may appear. What of the man who was stabbed a few years ago for intervening in a fight on a train in London? In my mind he is a hero and such a hero should be honoured for what was. You viewed the experience I had on the bus at trivial’ however, I could never view it in this way because my intention was not to engage in meaningless conflict, but to show others that if we stand together as decent, moral citizens, then many problems of today wouldn’t exist. I return to the point of ‘rudeboys’ and disrespect. There are many of them and ordinary citizens live in fear of them due to what society has taught them. Now why is this? How often do ‘ordinary citizens’ stand up and speak when something they know is clearly wrong happens? Very few, and this is because they have been unable to break through the boundaries of society. Society is, and always will be, about controlling the masses. You have claimed that the reason people don’t act is because they don’t want to. I couldn’t disagree more. They don’t want to because this is what they have been taught by society: to do as they are told. And right now, in modern society, we are taught to look out for ourselves and not run any risk or danger to ourselves. After all, why worry about anyone else as long as we as individuals are safe?

    You have stated this, and I quote:

    ” I recognize that you state “We run the risk of harm to ourselves when we challenge any form of evil in this world;” However,
    In some instances it is just simply not worth the risk for a situation like that. I am also fairly certain that those who refused to aid you were thinking the same.)”

    So where do we draw the line about what is worth it and what isn’t? This is the very heart of the issue. You believe that those who sat, watched and did nothing were thinking exactly what you thought, that it just wasn’t worth it. The irony of this is that, if each of these people (several of them being strong, grown men) had thought that, actually, it was worth it, the issue would have been resolved in an instant and justice would have been served to the bullies. There were three of them, yet there were about fifteen people on that bus who turned a blind eye. Basic logic would say that these boys would have ran with their tails between their legs if confronted by fifteen people who were clearly much stronger than they. I feel that to justify this blatant cowardice is an insult to the common decency and compassion that we ought to feel for each other as human beings.

    You have also stated:

    “Now, with that being said, it is the people themselves that feel it is not worth the effort to campaign against things as trivial as hazing or bullying or any other means.”

    I must object. Bullying is anything but trivial. I am sure that every child who has been bullied at school (some even contemplating suicide because of it, fewer still acting on it) or any adult at work, or any bus driver, or any teacher bullied by her pupils – I am sure every one of them would agree that bullying is far from insignificant. Is this truly the attitude of us as people? That we would view bullying as trivial? It is very simple to me. If I see someone in pain or distress then I will jump in, regardless of the consequences. But if every single one of us felt like this, perhaps the consequences would not be so dire. You questioned as to whether I would have acted as I had if they possessed weapons; I cannot answer this for it has not happened. However, I knew when I acted that there was a possibility that they would have; yet I did anyway. This is what I mean by risk. And in my opinion, it is better to take that risk in order to help someone, rather than sit back and do nothing. When you mention that society does encourage people do what is ‘right’ but this involves rectifying it in the correct way, I can only assume that you are speaking of informing the authorities. Sadly, the authorities – though their intentions may be well-meaning – are not always going to be there to save you, especially in a split-second. If you witness a man being beaten to death, would you waste precious minutes calling the police? He could well be dead by then. Or would you act on instinct; fight or flight? I know which one I would rather choose. Some may view this as foolish, but if everyone thought this way and was not afraid to act, then the ‘evil’ I speak of would not prevail. But it appears, as it always has done, that ‘evil’ seems to have a lot more courage than ‘good’ when it comes to situations in society. Too many good people are under the thumb of society’s beliefs and control; this is the issue.

    Ah, politicians. 🙂 Do you know why I blame them? Because they have the power to act and yet they do not. While they may faff about with a few words here and there, and speak of laws and legislation, if they were doing such a great job, why is it that the problems that exist are of an astronomical extent? I will blame cruel, sadistic individuals to a degree, but who I will blame more are those in power; the ones who have the means and finances to act, yet they do nothing. It is as though they are cut off from the real world. You speak of gangs that run rife; this only furthers my belief that those in power are not utilizing their power to its fullest extent – for if they were, these issues would be stamped on. Politicians will feed many pretty words to the masses in order to enhance their power; what many do not do is follow through. 100 % effort and 100% compassion is what all those in power should hold, every one of them. But too many fall victim to the selfishness of mankind. Sheep that prosper only do so because of a good shepherd.

    To justify the cowardice of human beings who are not evil but are simply afraid does not help the complete shambles that society has become; or to justify the lack of compassion and effort that politicians put into their positions by claiming they ‘do what they can’ – this is disturbing to me. Those in power are in power for a reason; there is so much more they could achieve, yet they do not. There is no justification when it comes to tolerating what is wrong over what is right. Conflict is not always a bad thing, as you seem to believe. Sometimes the only way to strive for peace is to engage in war. History teaches us this much. In order to do what is right, sacrifices must be made. And I applaud everybody who has the nerve to stand up and do what is right, no matter what barriers society or their opposition may hold for them.

  3. Ah. Where to begin? I will start with the bus driver. The bus driver at the most was being harassed. Now if those teenagers pulled him from his chair and started acts of assault and battery I find you equally if not more just in any form of intervention…(That is what you would do.) As for the others. It does vary. You are right, calling authorities would have not been helpful enough or arrived too late. However, that was not the situation. Where I am going with this is that it may not have been as serious as perceived. Since you have a zero tolerance policy for any of the sort which I am not implying it is bad, others may not share the view however. What I am trying to point out is why and what other ways you can look at it as, as I will explain a little later on

    Now, The subject of contacting authorities. The Bus Driver was not being beaten to death, was not even touched therefore no immediate danger, as I am sure the other passengers perceived( well those that paid any attention.) You assumed that they were too scared to act. Like if they were petrified with fear and were helpless to act (Coward). When it has been actually described that they just were not concerned. There is a difference. Maybe some people can hide fear very well. However as you described, they sat there and pretended nothing was going on ( This is where I explain about the other ways as previously mentioned.). So it might not be apparent they were being pressured. Maybe even annoyed some of them. You would know better that I being as you were there. I suggested that yes they felt it was not worth any risk of getting involved( which might not even have been true), but now looking back on it, don’t you think it might just have been apathy for the situation.

    Again the very sensitive subject of “society.” Society does not teach us to promote heinous acts against others. People in it do not go to school or any form of meeting or gathering to learn how to look out for number one and make other lives miserable in the process ( Generally speaking you learn to develop yourself and broaden horizons in most instances by learning a skill or trade and utilizing it to help others.). In fact the ones that do use “society” as a scapegoat for justifying their acts. ” It’s not my fault, if society didn’t teach me to do it.” Society doesn’t teach those things but somehow those individuals, groups, gangs etc, develop an ideology of doing those heinous things. A psychological standpoint would suggest that they are done to show oneself they are different than the group. ” I am not just another nobody in society now.” It is a lot easier to make a mess than clean it up so many derelicts go the path of least resistance and enact on their plans to promote a form of being unique. Ironically, they think they have demonstrated some form of individuality they fall into the category of “Criminal.”

    You see it as that politicians are doing a poor job and the problems that exist are of an astronomical extent. Can you imagine if there was no legislature? The country would be a wasteland. I feel you may be a tad too critical on them. Their numbers are skewed compared to the population. About tens of thousands versus a population of over 300 million. not taking into account that all those above mention have duties specifically regarding law. However, I agree that there is room for improvement. I am also aware that the above mentioned personnel do not directly enforce the laws so much as mandate them. This is where police, sentries and constables take just as much flak. Having the lack of manpower to oversee every injustice committed seems near impossible. However, things have been done and strides have been made to ensure one’s safety when they are out and about. Every time something does happen and the fingers are pointed at those deemed responsible, it could always be worse as in some places, it always is. I feel the individuals are more to blame than those in power. I know this sounds like a euphoria but if those individuals never committed these acts… there would be no need to react. Unfortunately this is not the case. While you support those who do act when necessary as I do too, I support those who have chosen to do what they can to manage the place we live in.

  4. the situation could have escalated to something much worse either way its situational. The bus driver coudl’ve gotten beat up or she could’ve gotten hurt. Many different things could’ve happened. and it’s hard to sit here and say i would’ve done this and done this because when you are put in the spot your instinct kicks in. I speak from my own experience when you simply cannot just be a hero all the time especially when the odds are against you. You really have to pick and choose you cannot jump in all the time chances are you will become victim of circumstances. And i don’t look at it as good men and evil men. I think there are no righteous pure incorruptable human beings. Just because people freeze out of fear and sit shock, that doesn’t make them cowards. For instance, a couple years ago, in my city of edmonton there was a bus incident where a guy stabbed another passernger in the neck. Everybody including the bus driver ran outside the bus and locked the guy in as he continue to stab the poor fellow and proceeded to eat flesh( apparently the guy was high on pcp or he was mentally disabled) at the time the news broke families of the victim were raged and blaming the passengers for not helping. there were at least 3-4 grown men there. it’s a tragic ending but you can’t put words to it. You just can’t say they should’ve done something its hard to explain.

    there is just layers upon layers of bullshit like the whole society thing I agree to an extent that they control the masses throught different outlets, inject fear to speak. ask juarez mexico about that.

    if you ever lived in a poor neighbourhood. you were told, you were raised not to snitch. thats just how they operate. It may seem dumb from the outside looking in but thats how it is. The cops don’t care, it’s like they have their own way of dealing with the problems in the projects and snitching to the cops or authorities will just really get you hurt. But really its stupid because its going ass backwards and doesn’t really help people progress and be better people because they turn a blind eye when they see drugs and illegal stuff going down. So what do the smart people do? they make somemoney and get out of there asap. At times you just have to be a bit selffish to look out for yourself and for your own.

    as for politics i’m leaving that alone, i don’t really got nothing to say about that.

    as for theese rude boys, I think they are just mis guided, I see plenty in my city, there has to be a better way to educate them, to at least give them other options, because when you are constantly bombarded with stupid dances on tv, the jewelry, nice cars, bitches, money money money, thats all you see now and when you are a kid thats all you see well how is he suppose to tell the difference between that and the consequence it could lead like prison death, there has to be a better way to guide them. and it won’t be the same for everybody. at the same time I do stay optimistic, i personally don’t have problems with cops, but canada’s justice system’s been a joke for a while, that needs a rehash. I do hope the world gets better, do i do shit to make it better? well sort of, i use to help volunteer in the inner city homeless people but as far like starting revolutions and making posters in front of the legislature and stuff no. I admit i don’t do enough, I can’t do enough, i don’t have the resources like jay z or bono to make big movements. as humans there is only so much we can do, and the uniting part as all one is bullshit. we can’t . humans are prideful. pride is evil more than lust itself. Once a year on christmas or when 9-11 happens when we all hold hands and act like we are united isn’t gonna cut it.

    and yes when all the cards are laid out I stil still have faith god’s gonna pull through. and i get that not everyone believes in god, but thats just something personal for me. I don’t really want to get into it that much but i know sometimes you gotta let go of your understanding and get his understanding and just let shit go.

  5. i see things like this often but i find absolutely no inclincation to get onvolved. its not worth my time, my effort and ultimately my life. Im just waiting for the moment i can leave south london and never come back. Its sad that that’s basically my only one ambition in life but its the truth. I respect you for what you did, but i can understand why few others would do it.

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