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  • Christian Armbruester

Football, Cappuccinos and Riots

Why the rage of the global protests is within all of us.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and like every Saturday, I took my son to play football in the park. It was always good fun, watching a bunch of 5-year olds trying to kick a ball whilst not falling over. There was coaching, a referee and we had mapped out a pitch with goals near the entrance of the park. There were many other parents there and all seemed right with the world as I was chatting with our friends whilst the kids were having fun.

I didn’t really notice the two young men as they marched through the middle of our little football pitch. Our children were trying their best to keep playing as the two rather large males were walking amongst them. One of the parents became rather irate and rightfully so, it just seemed so out of place to disrupt a game with little kids. The shouting match between the parent and the two perpetrators intensified, until finally one of them said: “If you keep disrespecting me, I will show you what I can do”.

Well, maybe we were just curious, or the question raised simply needed a retort, and surely it must have been the dumbest thing anyone has ever said: “Okay, show us”. What happened next is the type of moment in your life when time just stops. The two young men came running through the field and charged at our little group of hapless middle-aged parents. There were no discussions, no hesitations, they came swinging, and punched, kicked, bit and spat at us with no abandon. One shouted that he was going to kill us and it certainly seemed like he was intent on making it so.

It took more than a dozen other bystanders and the help of the police to finally bring the aggressors under control and prevent far worse from happening. I went from sipping a cappuccino to a fight to the death in the blink of an eye and you really have to wonder why. It turns out, one of the attackers has a young child and it could well have been him standing there on the side-lines. The police did ask him, what he would have done if someone had walked through his pitch, to which he looked away in shame and probably kept thinking about during the next eight months in jail.

Why am I telling you this story? For one, it serves as yet another reminder that life is very precious, and it can change at any time. We do so much to control our daily lives, our routines, our habits, but when it comes to random acts of violence, our health or the behaviour of others, we are utterly helpless no matter what we do. Two, there is a lot of repressed anger out there. It’s in all of us, and if you have ever seen a small child not get their way, you can also see the innocence of this rage that we feel when we don’t get what we want. Take away food or take away water and any human being would fight with all their might for just one more helping of what we (think we) need to sustain our lives.

Different people have different trigger points and there are degrees to the extent of what some people may do, but the issue remains the same. We need to focus on what creates the anger, not try to control the reaction. I neither condone the action of the parents nor condemn the two men who attacked us on that fateful day. Clearly, there was something wrong there to trigger such a violent reaction. Things just happened and I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Scary.


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