Why are we so eager to butcher each other?

I recently decided to try my hand at a super heroine. Two close friends were going at it, to the point one had grabbed a cutlass.  Weapon held high above his head the inevitable was obvious. But with a female friend I scaled the balcony that separated us from bloody disaster. The cutlass somehow struck my friend on the flat side. I wonder to this day, how he had avoided the sharpened blade. We’d both put our lives on the line with hardly any thought about what might’ve happened.

The scuffle didn’t end there. We’d gotten into it and now the question was how we were going to take that cutlass out of my clearly infuriated friend’s hands. This was nothing I’d ever anticipated. I’d arrived to my friend’s house seconds earlier, just in time to be a referee in the sort of match I’d always sworn never to be involved in. Who in their right mind would get in the way of a swinging cutlass? I guess the rules change when it’s someone you care about facing death in the worst way.

My friend Truant* who’d narrowly escaped the first hit quickly retaliated. He punched his assailant in the face and got at least three solid hits in, sending him staggering to the ground. Our intervention had given him enough time to weigh up the situation and figure out a self-defense strategy. But now we had a new problem.   We were dealing with two hotheads. At all cost we had to prevent Truant from getting his hands on that cutlass.  He was fighting for his life and I knew all too well it wouldn’t be long before he got the upper hand. Ryan had been first to land a blow but a warrior he wasn’t.

Seconds later we were all on the ground, me on top of Ryan struggling to get the weapon out of his hands, and my friend Torrent* off to the side. He still was holding the cutlass above his head.  I couldn’t help thinking about how surreal it all seemed. Was this really happening? Had I really landed in the middle of a cutlass fight? Try as I might I couldn’t get him to let go. All of sudden I saw blood. I thought for sure someone had been badly hurt, even as the struggle continued.  Still gripping Ryan’s arm I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer. This was completely out of control.

At that point I felt a weight lifting from my back. I later discovered that Truant’s girlfriend had also stepped in and was holding him back, or trying to anyway. By some stroke of luck Torrent managed to get the cutlass out of Ryan’s hand, and I scrambled to my feet. I’d never seen my friend Truant so upset. He was like a raging bull. We were out in his front yard, surrounded by neighbours, yet no one stepped in to help. As much as I shouldn’t have been, I was surprised and more than a little disappointed. I didn’t have time to let the feeling sink in. I quickly grabbed Truant and struggled to push him out of the yard. By now I was in tears and willing him to listen.

“I care about you, and I don’t want anything to happen to you,” I remember saying, “please, just come with me. Let’s go!”

Needless to say he was thirsty for revenge and pretty damn furious about the whole situation, which had arisen all because of Ryan’s provocation in a situation that could have been much better dealt with.

I kept talking and gradually, he came back down to earth. But it took everything I had, strength I never knew I possessed, to get him out of that dark, angry place. My other two friends had gotten Ryan back into the house, and I led Truant away with absolutely no idea where we were headed. I just knew anywhere would be better than where we were.

As we walked away, the strong, strapping young man I’d grown up with completely broke down. He was in tears, in a state of disbelief that his best friend in the entire world would launch an attack on him that could’ve taken his life or left him in critical condition. I don’t know if I made any sense;  I just kept talking. I hadn’t felt in control when the fight was going down and I still did not. I had no shoes, no phone, blood on my clothes, countless bruises, and no idea what to do next.

Truant’s girlfriend’s showed up and took him back to her place. I walked back to his house absolutely frazzled. In the end I got mad at them both and we didn’t speak for weeks. I felt they’d put not only their lives in danger, but also the lives of others who cared about them. And for me that was beyond selfish.

I write this after hearing about a particular incident at a call center in St Lucia involving a young woman, her boyfriend and a male colleague with whom she was having an affair. Her boyfriend had found out about their office romance and one day he showed up armed with a cutlass. Luckily for all concerned, not only did the company have a security system in place that didn’t allow anyone who didn’t work at the establishment into the building, but the target of his frustration had taken the day off.  I couldn’t help wondering whether he’d really intended to walk into an office filled with people, to assault and quite possibly kill another man in plain sight. What had he really hoped to accomplish? Did he think that by eliminating the competition he’d have his girlfriend all to himself? Or was she his next target?

I’ve always had an issue with the fact that far too many people walk around this island with machetes that they don’t even bother to conceal. Surely there’s a law against the practice, but why isn’t it being enforced? Aside from that, what is this thing about us that we can’t wait to butcher each other?  It’s bad enough that one human being would want to inflict harm on another human being, but why is reaching for a cutlass so commonplace here?

We pride ourselves on being civilized, so why do so many of us choose to behave like savages on the warparth?

Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that another weapon would be more acceptable; I am totally against any form of violence, but I find the whole cutlass mentality mind boggling, not to say nightmarish!


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