Has this happened to you: you’re standing next to a rowdy group of teenagers and you contemplate what to do? I had that dilemma today as I waited for a bus in my neighborhood. The students were apparently football players from the neighborhood high school — some were wearing their jerseys. They started to get louder as the minutes rolled on, and when I looked up from my ipod I noticed that a fight was beginning to ensue. The young men began to use curse words without regard for the onlookers of mostly professionals coming from work. For some reason I think the mere fact that there were people around instigated them a little more.
So, my delimma was this: should I step in and stop this? I watched as other men looked on , some shook their heads and one even told them to move in the other direction, away from him. I thought to myself,who will be the one to go to them and tell them to stop, that they are better than that? That they are worthy of so much more than being involved in chaos on a street corner? Who?
Watching this I had an internal conversation with myself. The conversation ranged from these young men needing a stronger sense of self worth, to me acknowledging my own fear of retaliation by the young men if I intercepted, to even being ticked off at the men who were standing there as the young brothers denied themselves of some self respect. However, I also knew that these men were coming from a hard day’s work , wanting nothing more than to go home to their own families. Who was I to judge? Eventually the police came over to break up the brawl. When I placed the earphones back in my ears, Bob Marley’s “Craven Choke Puppy” was playing. As I boarded the B6, the words so erringly fitted the mood:
“So you want all for yourself alone
And you don’t think about the other man
Let me tell you my friend if you gonna live this life
It’s not good for you to build strife
Craven a-go choke puppy
Want all lose all
Then I know the wicked must fall
And getty, getty no want it
The craven dog will lose his bone
The craven dog will (whoo) lose his bone
Grafting after (whoo) something (whoo) else (whoo)
Can’t take it for themselves alone
They don’t think about the other man (whoo)
The old time people say (wow – wow – wow – wow),
wanty – wanty cyaan get it, yeah!”
He said, “They don’t think about the other man,” is that what we were doing as onlookers? Just caring about our own lives? I still do not have the answer.