reality check

I happen to have been hearing Kenny Rodgers’ song ‘Coward of the county ’so many times of late such that it rings in my mind even when it’s no longer playing. In the song, Rodgers sings about a man (boy?) called Yellow whose dad died in prison and he (Rodgers) had to take care of the boy (the dad was his brother). He sings of what the dad told the boy before dying:

Promise me son not to do the things I have done

Walk away from trouble if you can

It won’t mean you weak if you turn the other cheek

I hope you old enough to understand

Sometimes you don’t have to fight to prove that you are a man

The boy lived under this adage, labeled a county coward by all, he never sought to dispute this as long as he had the love and heart of a girl called Becky. In her, according to Rodgers, he did not have to prove that he was a man. All was sublime and bliss until the county bullies came. The song says the Gatling boys came to his girl when Tommy (Yellow’s real name) was at work and had a violent go at her and defiled her.

When Tommy came and found his love bruised by the hood bullies, he took his old man’s portrait, remembered his father’s words:

Promise me son not to do the things I have done

Walk away from trouble if you can

It won’t mean you weak if you turn the other cheek

I hope you old enough to understand

Sometimes you don’t have to fight to prove that you are a man

After this he walked into the bar wherein he found the bullies who had just ravished his girl, midway into the bar he was taunted and called yellow, he turned and walked toward the door and the laughter increased, but he did not leave, he locked the door, summoned all the strength (holy anger?) and never stopped until all the members of the famous gang were leveled and he made it clear as he floored the last one that he was doing all this for his Becky. Then he turned his dad’s words and did his own refrain.

I promised you dad not to do the things you’ve done

I’ll walk away from trouble if I can

Now don’t please don’t think I am weak when I didn’t turn the other cheek

And papa I sure hope you’ll understand

Sometimes you have to fight to prove that you are a man.

The words left a dimensional thrust me. It made me understand that we are comfortable with the pain society gives us until it touches a raw nerve. We are content with being misunderstood as long as it does not cause us to be removed from the feeding trough. We are happy to walk with hunched shoulders against a world that thumbs its nose at us and we deign from taking a stand.

Our  failure to take a stand against the libels , wrongs etc. might look uncostly as they happen across the road but the problem is that the more unchallenged the wrongs go, the more braver and louder the bullies become, soon they will snoop and walk into your territory also and defile your perimeter.

Our false comfort in running away from confronting ills under the pretext that they do not directly affect us is actually blatant COWARDICE that would cause pain to our close kin. How many of us have observed a taxi man pick under- age children with his taxi with the lure of sweet nothings to sexually abuse them? What has been our response? Have we not shrugged our shoulders and muttered that it is not our concern? Has it ever occurred to us that the pedophile will seek more scalps and might eventually pounce closer home?

The soccer aces say the best method of defence is attack. We cannot sit in the comfort of our perimeters and say as long as the ills are not in our circle we are safe because such safety is but false like a single reed against a swollen river.

Reality check. What did you overlook today? A child mouthing a wrong word and left un-cautioned will be the street gang leader who will take your watch at knife point tomorrow. A misguided adult who believes in their wrong being right might be the one to spread that libelous unfounded story about you. A subordinate who smells beer during working hours who goes unsanctioned might drive that company car carrying your children into oncoming traffic tomorrow.

We can’t afford to be yellow. We can’t afford to only fight when the bullies are at our doorstep because then it will be too late.

As the sun rises tomorrow, take a reality check. Stem the abuse, stop the bad mouthing, and stop the run-away ignorance. Then we will all be safe.