Is it right to feel distaste for your fellow man?
I was sitting on a train station this afternoon, waiting for my connection, minding my own business and munching a sandwich. I had been listening to Dvorak and following along with the score, muzzing up for a concert at the end of June.
So I was in a pleasant place. I was sitting in my usual ivory tower, albeit in public rather than in my book-lined and very quiet study.
I was in a contemplative mood; a mood in which I was likely to be interested rather than irritated by what was happening around me.
My interest concentrated on my reaction to a couple of young men who started to chat to a couple of young mothers just down the platform. I wasn’t being nosey but could not help overhearing their conversation.
They were not a foursome: the two men (white, rough) just happened to start a chance conversation with the young mothers (one black and demure, the other white and not). It was simply jolly banter.
The men were both shaven headed and in tracksuits. Both had topknots. Both were either hungover or slightly drunk. One of the men was drinking wine out of a quarter bottle.
One of the men said he would rather be back in prison than suffer the aggravation he had had the night before and the hangover he was suffering today. Every other word was anglo saxon. “F..k” this “c..t” that….and so forth.
My language is bad anyway but not so openly.
And it was all about graphic sex, alcohol and drugs. Their antics from the night before. One of them had slipped the other a big dose of some drug; I didn’t catch the name. The victim was apparently curved round the lavatory bowl (I wasn’t quite sure why) and the drug donor apparently had to “p**s” all over him. There were women involved the night before, casual strangers, it seemed. For casual sex.
You get the picture.
I was not quite sure if I felt revulsion and if so, then why. I don’t think I did and I was and am quite sure that if I did feel revulsion it was wrong to do so. If some people choose to lead their life in this way, does it really matter? Is there anything wrong with it? Why should I mind or care? Or feel offended?
And then I thought about my own luck in the genetic lottery; in having been born into the prosperous upper middle classes. And my luck in the lottery of life in making out in a reasonably or comparatively satisfactory way.
Pity would certainly be wrong: what business would I have to feel pity? Anger and derision would be equally wrong. After considering it all and weighing things up in my mind, I found the right attitude (for me at least) was one of acceptance and neutrality.
These were people. Living their own lives. They were not threatening or violent. They were simply different.
Live and let live. They may have been far better people than I. But I was glad I was not irritable, or tired or impatient today. There are occasions when I am ashamed to say I can feel less charitable, although I know this is wrong.
I made amends for my muddled thoughts by telling them they were on the right train when they enquired, a few stops down the line.