Boys will be boys. We see it everywhere, virtually every day. Last week – and over most of the past two months – we have seen it ad nauseam, ad infinitum, on the football field. If I had a Brazilian dollar for every time a foul was perpetrated or a player took a fanciful dive, [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Bandits at prime time… but not only on telly!


Boys will be boys. We see it everywhere, virtually every day. Last week – and over most of the past two months – we have seen it ad nauseam, ad infinitum, on the football field. If I had a Brazilian dollar for every time a foul was perpetrated or a player took a fanciful dive, I’d be able to buy my own model Golden Ball on e-Bay. Tough challenges that have the deceptive description of ‘tackle’, flying attacks with a knee in the back to add insult to injury – leaving one star player with dislocated vertebrae and compelling him to depart the cup – and even an incident in which one carnivorous defender took a bite (literally) out of his opponent. These are the shenanigans on non prime time television of late…

It wasn’t limited to the FA World Cup, either. The other day I was not surprised to read – on the sporting pages, again – that two professional motorcycle racers were involved in an accident on a high-speed circuit; followed by fisticuffs. Most riders after a reverberating crash would be prone to pick themselves up gingerly, dust off bits of metal shavings and shorn-off tarmac, and probe the old body for bad bumps, throbbing bruises, or suspect broken bones. But not these two Dutchmen, compatriots and fellow-scufflers, who went hammer and tongs at each other in the immediate aftermath of the prang; and in full view of their fans and other amazed and amused onlookers. Boys will be boys will be brawlers who bring tears of pain to their own and other’s eyes…

There’s a bit of it that’s catching – or catching on, or catching up – in certain youthful political circles. The gobsmacked citizens of a nameless island republic were recently treated (one uses the word with caution and due warning to one’s reader) to an exhibition of the best parliamentary, er, interplay. Lacking verbal sticks and short of gesticulatory stones to make their point more forcibly, as they often do in the well of the House, these young Turks went at each other with a ferocity that would put fanatical Latin footballers or daredevil Dutch riders to shame. That they were erstwhile chums (and that they will no doubt be strange political bedfellows in stranger future career paths) did not pre-empt these politicos from demonstrating that nature red in tooth and claw is demonstrably best exemplified in two fat and unfit young representatives of Homo sapiens doing a bar-room shuffle and taking bites (again, literally) out of each other.

Good entertainment value, but poor show for elected representatives of the people – one of whom has been rewarded by his political masters for his public fight with yet another formal or official opportunity to seek, gain, and desecrate public office. The other, too, will no doubt be similarly suitably recompensed as his sparring partner was. We are simply thankful that in this day, age, milieu, and mindset, no guns were brandished or fired in anger. We must be thankful for small mercies, I am sure…

The truth of the matter is this is exactly how we would expect mammals or primates to behave. Assertive, competitive, aggressive. Survival of the fittest. With natural selection ensuring that only the best genes get passed on. And there are those who would argue that humanity for all its highfalutin aspirations is nothing more than a mere mammalian primate. Leaving the nothing-buttery aside for a minute, and subscribing to the Darwinian worldview for a moment, it should come as no surprise that sportsmen and strongman politicos behave in this way. But what about prelates who are more than mere primates and philosopher-kings who are more than members of the kingdom animalia? Could we not expect them to aspire to a higher standard, a more noble ideal? Evidently not! The events of the recent past speak for themselves – all the more eloquently as pugilistic priests have proven to be more pugnacious in public than we can expect peaceful poet-monks to be.

Which reminds me that wily Odysseus – when confronted with a choice to slay a captive poet or a priest, in Homer’s fabulous but beautifully crafted Odyssey – opted to dispatch the venerable one to the nether regions of Hades or Tartarus, sparing the life of the poetaster whom he deemed worthy to live.

Which also reminds me that the age of true philosopher-kings and poet-priests is past… Or yet to come… And when I’ve finished watching the umpteenth rerun of how Germany made things messy for Argentina (don’t cry for me, Messi), I’ll try and figure out if our Golden Age of peace is a thing of the past, present, or future.

Although something tells me even you, gentle reader, prefer to catch the match and capture the action and chortle at the bits and bites and chuckle at the rumours of forced circumcision? Shame on him (and her, also them.) who don’t think evil of it! At the time of writing, with a late-mid-week deadline looming, this writer could only hope and pray that the other battalions of the saffron brigade in the east and the north-central areas did not take the route that some of their cadre and compatriots took in the southwest, time not out of mind. Perhaps the popular association of on-field football hooliganism with Western thuggery might detract these concerned primates – I mean prelates – if nothing else will…

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