A Passion for fruit

Think back to a late Sunday in March 2004. It was a celebration day for India’s test match delivery. I was walking down Southall Broadway and was amazed at the number of Indian flags wrapped around necks, backs and from poles. Every 30 seconds cars would zoom down from either side of the road with passengers leaning out with Indian banners and flags. With their sunroofs open people were frantic and eager to communicate how India had raised the hope of the series.

Unfortunately, the air of happiness was quickly disturbed by a group of youths that started a brawl. The brawl appeared to start with three young men venting their anger against one person. The fists turned to kicks then the flag poles were instantly broken into shared halves, converted to form convenient weapons. A tide of youth gathered and commenced to chase this person down one of Southall’s hump ridden backstreets. It all happened at a fuzzy rapid pace. Although we may not be party to the issue or possible argument between the youths, the negative power unleashed at that moment showed the potential for someone to take advantage of harnessing it. Everyone should feel good about some success, this can lead to friendly rivalry. One could describe the spirit of the moment as being just ‘good fun’ and based on pure excitement. My impression is that some humbleness and graciousness appeared to be missing. There appeared to be a lost opportunity and need for joint celebration – the need for supporting sides to come together in good sporting faith, confidence and unity?

One extreme is to imagine a cage with 12 monkeys. At the top of the cage sits food (delicious fruit) but a pole leading to it is wired by a small group of observing and controlling scientist’s with an electrical current. Upon any monkey attempting to climb and touch the tray of food, they will receive an electrical shock. Over time, the monkeys will resist the temptation, as they understand the negative implication and expectant pain. Every week 2-3 monkeys are swapped for new entrants in the cage. The new monkeys somehow learn the ways of the others, not interfering with the norms and status quo. After a while, unknown to the monkeys, the electrical current is switched off. They are unaware of this and are therefore conditioned to continue to ignore the fruit.

The moral to the story of the monkeys is that people too can be conditioned to function and behave in a particular way, even if situations opportunities to change the world around them appear. National pride and opinions can also be exploited for the gains of a controlling negative minority. Episodes of the growth of fascism during the last two world wars show how ethnic cleansing can become acceptable. Those that once lived next door to each other in peace and harmony may choose to either protect or forget to save the hunted. Minorities can become easy targets in a world of ignorance. The ignorant majority become unaware of lessons from history and can be forced to limit their confidence to take the risk of changing present day situations. Let’s be careful to heed the negative side of patronism. We need to understand that access to the fruit doesn’t lie in the hands of others. If we want to change the world, let’s neither alienate nor be used by others. Celebration of unity must be better than alienation. Rejoicing in each others differences and the spirit of taking part in life and being alive has to be better than celebration of each other failures.

Categories: 2004

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