Prejudice and Hatred Alive and Kicking in the Hearts of Children
I run a couple of times a week. I go as early in the morning as my laziness permits and enjoy the peace and quiet of the beach before the midday hoards arrive.
I have been doing this for a couple of years now and it’s always been a relaxing experience. This morning that changed.
On my return run I spotted a little boy lying motionless on the pavement. Two other men jogged past him and pointed out that he was ‘playing dead’ so I took no notice. As I walked past him, he roared. Had I not known he was kidding, no doubt I would have got a fright. As it was I just laughed.
I moved on to one of the exercise machines to do some chin-ups and attack my bingo wings.
Not content that his little rouse hadn’t scared me, the little trickster started throwing rocks at me. Yes, rocks. At first I just thought he was randomly throwing rocks in the air but then, no, it became apparent that he was throwing them at me.
He got closer and closer. The rocks, quite large, splintering into pieces at my feet. When he got within two feet of me I told him to stop and gave him a filthy look. He responded by spitting at me.
Then he got real close and started swinging on the bars of the exercise machine I was using and began to hurl venomous words at me: you don’t belong here; go home to your own country; you are nothing but a piece of shit; get out of my country.
He spoke Spanish but I understood every word. I responded by staring in blank disbelief in his cute eight-year-old face. Maybe he was seven, perhaps eight, but no more. His body was wiry, his clothes dirty. He spoke with old man hate.
I continued to ignore him and he wandered over to a bench where my dog lead lay – said dog having fled the scene somewhere mid run – and started to play with it. When he saw that I was not going to chase him and retrieve the lead, he took advantage of the moment and ran away with the thing.
There was no way I was going to give the little rascal the pleasure of chasing after him but I was pissed off. My ex made the lead for me and as I am currently not on speaking terms with him, replacing it would be a tad difficult.
So minus the dog and minus the lead I headed for home. As I walked towards the steps which lead off the beach I noticed the wee munchkin playing in a mound 50 metres away with my lead.
He spotted me coming and ducked down behind a bush. I had to climb a wall and a few bushes but finding him wasn’t difficult. I grabbed the lead.
‘You can’t take that. That’s mine. I am going to the police,’ he screamed.
‘No I am going to police,’ I shouted back, quickly descending the mound.
As I walked away he followed close behind, taunting me with swear words that would bring a tear to a sailor’s eye. For a moment I thought, what if the little shit follows me home. This kid is relentless. He’ll steal everything.
‘Voy a tu casa,’ I turned round and shouted at him.
This was a turning point in our relationship.
Firstly when I turned round the mite had a bottle in his hand, poised to strike. Yes it would appear he had plans to gash me or gouge me or something equally gruesome. I guess he really wanted that lead.
Secondly, ‘voy a tu casa’ means ‘I am going to your house.’ When I said that I meant to say, ‘Go home,’ but in my anger I got my grammar mixed up.
His immediate reaction was ‘How do you know where I live?’ When he asked me that, fear in his voice, I realised my grammatical error.
I kept walking, marching forward as if I was on a life or death mission to get to his house knowing full well that he was only two feet behind me and more than capable of throwing that bottle at my head. I wondered how much damage it might do?
Then I heard the bottle drop. He was silent. Feet scurried away in the opposite direction. It was clear that the threat of police did not scare this little boy but the threat of his mother or father put the fear of God in him. They must be lovely people.
And just look at the lovely child they’ve created, his head full of so many beautiful thoughts, ideas and kindness. 50 euros says he grows up and becomes a cop.
And then we wonder why the world is so fucked up.
NOTE: In February, CBS correspondent Lara Logan got a firsthand taste of how horrific it can be when prejudice and hatred spiral out of control. Read this story.