The gangs that are running are town and city streets at night now need to realise that there is a difference--a very large difference--between respect and fear. Yes, we're afraid of them. Anybody in their right mind would be, given the number of people they've killed in the last seven months. Every night there's a new casualty on the tv news, or in the paper: he went outside to stop a bunch of kids throwing cans at his car, and in sixty seconds he was dead.
Yes, they are widely feared. But they're not respected.
I certainly don't respect them. You respect people who do things that you admire, or things you wish you had done. You respect people who do things that you realise must be difficult. Now, it would be difficult for any civilised person to pick up a gun and shoot somebody, or stab them fatally in the guts. But a civilised person wouldn't want to do that anyway. The kind of killing that the gangs indulge in routinely is behaviour normally associated only with diseased animals.
I might get onto what I think the reasons for the emergence of the gangs and the air of violence in our town streets at some other date. Undoubtedly it's due to the moronic manipulative music they listen to, and what they used to call shoot-'em-up computer games, though it can't only be those things because a lot of people listen to moronic music and play those games without killing anybody. Undoubtedly the poverty of the education they have received comes even before that, since they wouldn't be attracted to such intellectually destitute entertainments if their brains had been properly commissioned; and when I say education I'm referring to the nature of the school curriculum as well. Government have got to stop bending education to serve children with the minimum we can get away with and prepare them only for a life serving behind the counter at Primark.
But let me return, briefly, to respect, which all reports tell us is the prime motive for membership of the gangs.
I don't respect anybody who has to get his strength and exercises his cojones by walking with ten other people on either side of him. I don't respect anybody who solves his arguments with violence. That was fine when we were just coming out of the caves, boys, but after Dante wrote The Divine Comedy mankind reached a slightly higher plane.
I respect the solitary individual who has the courage to be himself whatever everybody else is telling him.
I respect--it seems contradictory, but it isn't--a sense of community. A sense of responsibility for one's community. (The person best equipped to protect those around him is the man who thinks for himself.)
I respect intelligence. Depth. Complexity. Maturity.
I respect, as laughable as the world might find it, Peace.
Everybody wants to live, and thrive, and be loved, if their minds have progressed beyond the natal stage. Taking a life, any life (human or animal), is a grotesque act in my book, and a crime against the natural way of things that the perpetrator will wind up paying for forever.
When I see you coming in the street tonight and I cross the road to avoid you it isn't because I respect you. It's because you lack all the qualities that I respect.
But I suppose it's useless telling you this because you won't understand a word of what I'm saying anyway.