Just thinking about things today and safety, personal safety was one of them.
Got me to thinking about how I felt years ago, aged 17, when I first saw the film Mad Max. Even though the film has obviously aged and we’ve been hugely desensitised to violence, it still maintains the hopeless, grey feel of an out-of-control society.
After the film that night I thought about how scary the world would be if you were threatened and couldn’t call a cop!
Two things make that thought a masterstroke of irony today – if you called a cop would they come; worse, in the days when I was 17, the last person most SAfricans wanted to see was a cop!
Even back then, I started reflecting back on history – how there had been entire countries, whole centuries where there were no cops. Your family, clan or community had to look after itself.
Then I realised that maybe the whole Western lifestyle may be only for a season – Europe went through two major, hideous wars where there was no, and I mean no, law and order.
Who did French people call when the Kaiser, then Hitler, rolled through the cobbled streets laying claim to everything and everyone? We get so dismissive of the wars tearing through Africa while it tries to shake off corruption and centuries of internal and external plunder – does anyone remember that France, Germany etc were involved in something called the 100 Years War? Where were the cops in Bosnia?
We knew where the cops were in Sicily during the ’60s, 70’s and 80’s – they were being buried, alongside judges and non-corrupt politicians at a rate of sometimes 50 per month.
I do not for a moment pretend that crime isn’t the worst thing ever, but the world has always been a scary place. Just not for a percentage of us who had a long period of apparent security. Now we have to figure out WHY and HOW and WHO, and do something to make it safer for each other.