Two slightly older girls, three or four years old, are covering the debris of what was once a full-blown plastic play kitchen with sand. You join in, but they don’t want you to. Of course not… I mean, why share if you can try and hog something?
They are pretty vicious. If I were not standing next to you they might react even more viciously. You ignore them and do your own thing. You also pour sand on the remnants of a plastic furnance.
The girl wants to chase you away. I sit down next to you and start removing all the sand – angrily – with a plastic rake. I tell the little witch that you also have a right to be playing here. What I don’t tell her is that I actually found the stupid furnace somewhere in the far reaches of this artificial desert and brought it to my son.
Eventually you and they move on to nicer and bigger things, but one of them throws sand on you later. Her mum intervenes and yells how she cannot do that.
One of the things I dislike most in Slovakia is going to a playground and being forced to observe Slovak fathers (machos clad like black street hiphoppers, but mercifully mute most of the time) and to hear the conversations of Slovak maminky. Anything but mute. For reasons I haven’t discovere yet you have to yell at the playground. This applies for kids an mummies alike. But the worst part is seeing the evil that is already lurking in little kids. And feeling the anger boiling inside me. Excluding my son feels a million times worse than if they were excluding me.
These two little girls already have the most vicious, disdainful and spiteful expressions on their faces. They are so young. Where is that coming from? It must be inherited. I can’t think of any other reason than that their parents are willy nilly passing on their frustrations to their kids. And there is much to be frustrated about when you’re Slovak. There is even more to be frustrated about when you’re an unattractive Slovak woman in a country obsessed with female beauty and ‘strong’ men.
The whole day am wondering how it can come to war, time and time again. But then you see human nature in the faces of these kids. This destructive, hateful force. You can say, but come on, they are just kids. Yes, but those aggressive drives are undeniably there. Already.
There is this layer of varnish we painstakingly cover ourselves with so we don’t bash each other’s heads in, but at the end of the day it’s still just varnish.
There is a scene in Terminator 2 that I particularly like. John and the robot programmed to help him are trying to save humanity from self-destructing. John sees two little boys shoot at each other with toy guns. John asks something like: We are not going to make it, are we?
The terminator says it’s human nature to destroy one another.
It’s true that am in a phase of my life where I spot the negative first and tend to overlook the positive, but trips to the playground come with mixed feelings.
I love to see you play and have fun. I can’t express how much.
And then there are… other people. Even in that supposedly harmless setting you can observe people’s bulging egos, destructive pride, people’s territorial pissings.
We like to point to one bad guy (or woman) who plunges millions into war, but put any human – even one of the friendlier ones – in a position of unusual power and I fear the same thing happens.
If I have to sum up what I think people yearn for in one word, I would say: omnipotence.
In Europe we have had about 2000 years of hearing – at least every Sunday – how the path forward is love and forgiveness and turning the other cheek and compassion, etc.
As a well-meaning human without influence it seems something like the Benedict option is the best option. While the world around chooses ego, greed, pseudo-powerful poses and gesturing and materialism over the common good you can create a bubble for yourself where only fellow kind-natured humans are allowed entrance.
But then I think, put ten of the most kind-natured humans on a deserted island and you will have some conflict within the hour.
It’s scary. I mean that. It is scary.