Do you remember watching Mad Max when you were a kid (or young adult, if my dad is reading today) and thinking to yourself “Ah, ah. Is this Earth? Why are these people so cruel, selfish and reckless? More importantly, why are they dressed like this?” Everyone was attired as if scurvy had switched its desires for human flesh and for an appetite for rough cotton instead. Everyone except Tina Turner, of course. Even in the Thunderdome – which essentially represented Hell’s putrid navel – she managed to appear angelic and regal. That she was heartless and merciless and incapable of conjuring pity could be completely forgiven. Because beauty. And also because reasons.
But back to the point: Do you ever feel like we are living in the days of the Thunderdome…or at least exhibiting behavior that’s going to lead us there? I know I do. The evidence is all around us.
This is the point where the Rainbow Glitter Squad whose magical powers consist of an innate ability to solely see the world through rose-colored glasses shouts “Well, Malaka…if you see so much evil in the world, it’s because there is evil in your heart!” That’s bunkum. I see Lexus trucks and other luxury cars whizz by me on a near hourly basis and they no closer to parking themselves in my garage. Just because I witness something doesn’t mean I possess it. No, no, no… we have to observe and analyze what’s going on in our surroundings objectively; and once we do, you’ll see the kerosene explosion on the horizon. As always, I am happy to furnish you with examples from my own life to promote further understanding.
The world of Mad Max was marked by violence. It was rabid and explosive, peppered with the presence of humans beings constantly baying for blood. Our present day world is very much the same – with the exception of HONY, where every subject is a member of the Rainbow Glitter Squad. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned from this cabal and that’s this: The problem with our world today isn’t that there is an abundance of violence, but a dearth of kindness. Violence is just a symptom of a deficiency in benevolence and courtesy. Once we begin to address the slow bleeding of kindness in our society, perhaps we can delay our eventual relocation to an address on Fury Road.
As usual, the examples are in the small things. When I wrote this post about dating in 2015 examining what many men (at least of the internet variety) expect in return for a dinner date, I don’t believe I devoted enough time to explaining exactly how vile this line of thinking is. Treating another person to dinner or with gifts does not amount to a transactional process if you possess a modicum of dignity. The caterwauling of the person whom the article was based on included a grievance with women who expected to have doors opened for them or seats pulled out for them…all acts of person who possesses and exhibits basic kindness. He wanted to know what expectations a woman ‘had for herself’. My assertion remains that a woman need only BE herself in a dating situation.
Did you ever see the movie A Bronx Tale? When Colagero was about to take Jane out on a date, he asked his father, Lorenzo, for advice on how to vet her as a lady. Lorenzo’s advice went something like:
“When you get in the car, unlock the passenger side and let her in. Then go to the back of the car and see what she does next. If she reaches over and unlocks the driver’s side for you, then you know you got a good woman who’s thinking about you. If she just sits there and waits, she’s a selfish broad who (insert choice words here).”
Spoiler alert: Much to his delight, Jane unlocked the door for Colagero, and that should have resulted in a happily ever after…but Jane was Black and Colagera Italian, so there was a race war instead.
Selfishness and the inability to accept that some others perform acts of kindness for the sake of the act itself have colored almost every aspect of our daily interactions. I am guilty of being tainted too, as I find it difficult to accept help/gifts from others because I don’t want to find myself unexpectedly in their debt. (There’s a story behind that.) This weekend I decided to take my kids to see Pan. Carmen from ‘Cross the Street was at our house, and I told Aya to ask if she’d like to invite her to join us. Her mother said she could come…but she wanted to know how much money to send with Carmen.
“Go back and tell her I got it,” I told the girls.
5 minutes later, they came pounding back up the steps.
“Carmen’s mom wants to know if you can tell her how much the ticket is so she can pay you back.”
I felt a headache coming on. “Tell Carmen’s mom that she is our guest and that I will be buying everyone popcorn and a drink. But if she wants to send money with Carmen to buy something extra for herself, she certainly can.”
See? Even among parent interactions, we find it difficult to accept or expect certain levels of kindness. If I have been invited to an event, I certainly don’t expect to pay my way and vice versa! But I understand why people think this way, and it likely stems from being burned in the past. A little over 25 years ago, I found myself in the Thunderdome because my sister mistook a classmate’s gifts as genuine kindness that wouldn’t need to repaid.
Her name was Mary Osei.
We had just moved into our new house in Labone and begun making friends with kids in the area. Mary and her siblings attended our primary school and lived just down the road from us. Naturally, we became friends. Mary took her friendship with A-Dub to a new level by purchasing sweets and toffee for her on a daily basis. I considered her lucky. None of MY new friends ever bought me anything! And then Mary and A-Dub had a falling out. Mary stormed up our driveway and banged on our door, demanding that A-Dub repay her the 90 cedis she had spent on her over the last few weeks. Our weekly break-time allowance was 10 cedis, so it would take the rest of our LIVES to repay 90 cedis. I opened the door and told Mary to leave. That’s when she attacked my sister.
That’s when I snatched her back.
That’s when she wrestled me to the floor and started to strangle me.
That’s when I looked up at my sister and wondered why the hell she wasn’t trying to help me.
That’s when my sister looked down at me and wondered how I was going to get myself out of this mess.
That’s when I lobbed my fist into Mary’s face to break her hold. She scrambled to her feet and A-Dub pushed her out. I locked the door behind her. Mary stood on the veranda insulting our mother and telling us how useless we were: “Common 90 cedis, you can’t pay!”
Reluctant to have another go with her and now knowing that my sister would allow me to perish for her fight, I let Mary stand out there and yell to her heart’s content. The girl had the strength of ten kubolor boys. She was sinewy and stout…probably from years of pounding fufu or assassinating soldiers.
You might be reading this and thinking that being placed in a choke hold ought to be enough to kill the propensity for selflessness in anyone. But I say NO! We must push through the pain of proverbial esophageal compression commit more acts of kindness without expectation of reciprocation. If every does this, reciprocation will be inevitable. It’s the only remedy to keep our world from burning.
*All images sourced from IMDB