They reckon that the pen is far mightier than the sword, but that sounds like the kind of eloquent crap that’s been written by some pansy who’s never picked up a sword in his life! Anyway, Donkey reckons he knows a weapon that’d kick a sword in the ass any day (sorry, haven’t used the “ass” joke for a while, so I thought I’d brush it off and give it a bit of a run. I especially apologise to my North American readers who are wondering what’s even funny about that)! I reckon the absolute, most dangerous secret in anyone’s armoury is not a sword, dagger, gun or even a cannon. I reckon the handiest thing to have at your disposal during any sort of conflict is none other than a bit of moral high ground. Please observe Exhibit A…
It’s all a bit clichéd (hey, that’s my life!), but when I was in high school, there was one guy who was the World Champion of class bullies, who liked nothing better than to terrorize everyone, even the teachers! Of course, everyone was pretty scared of him, and very few people ever stood up to him - why would you when your reward for sticking up for the rest of the human race was a pretty solid smack in the mouth? Anyway, Brad McMahon (are you listening, Brad? You f’n dick-wad!) always liked to have a bit of a go at poor ol’ Donkey, who, like the farmyard beast of burden that he is, would generally hang his head and shuffle past without a word.
Well one day, and I don’t quite know what could have gotten into me on this occasion, while we were settling for English class, Brad McMahon went just that little bit too far, and pointed out one of Donkey’s more obvious physical flaws, causing a nervous, but collaborative snigger amongst some of the less savoury of Melbourne’s rich kids. “Better nip this in the bud”, thinks I, “otherwise it’s gonna be a pretty shit three years”, so we exchanged the usual verbal retorts, with me “politely” asking him to use any other insult but that one, and he replying by asking why he would do that when this one works and me proceeding to more or less flatten the hairy gorilla with a pretty awkward rightie to the cheek! Right –on, Way to go, Donkey!
Unfortunately for Donkey, this all took place right in the lemon-puckered face of Ms Janet Sparks, the most unwavering, sour-faced bitch of an English teacher you ever did see, and I knew immediately that goodie-two-shoes Donkey, who’d never even been punished with so much as having to write out lines, was facing the penalty for “unruly and violent conduct towards a fellow student”, which was very clearly spelled-out in the front of the school diary as 30 minutes in an office with creepy Brother Thomas, and four days suspension. But do you know what happened?
Well, Ms Janet Sparks hadn’t exactly been excluded from Brad’s year-long terror campaign, so what was she going to do when she’d just seen her prised English student (and perhaps current infatuation, but that’s a story for another Blog post) deck the school bully right in front of her face? “Bradly McMahon, get to the office immediately!” Ms Janet “Rule Book” Sparks knew, deep down in that cold, bitter, lonely, little heart of hers, that Brad McMahon was an arsehole who had just got what was coming, and so she assumed the moral high ground which she felt was due her and, just for a moment, she deliberately abused her authority because she knew that no senior teacher or school board in the world would ever convict her. Brad McMahon had nothing to fall back on; he might have been a brute with immense physical strength and it may even be argued that he was the wronged party on this one, but circumstances were such that he had no option for appeal whatsoever. After all, who was going to stand up for him when every one of his victims … which was more or less everyone, wanted to see him hang? And not only was your favourite talking Donkey spared suspension, but guess who remained taunt-free for a few months after that? What a weapon! Moral High Ground, I love it!
So y’see, unlike the sword, or even the so-called, mighty pen, moral high ground can’t be countered by someone with a better sword or an … I dunno, inkier pen! Moral high ground is an absolute weapon that destroys all opposition … a bit like nuclear weapons (and one has to thank the Maker that the US have so many skeletons rattling around in the White House closets that they’ll never in a million years have their finger on any moral high ground, ‘cause then we’d really be in trouble!). But unlike nuclear weapons, which only seem to be owned by the rich and powerful nations of the world, moral high ground can be wielded by anyone, even the weakest and most poorly resourced bods. And with that moral high ground, they can become all powerful; with moral high ground, the mouse can become a lion!
And it’s often a pretty fast turn around from a point of supplication to the heady moral peaks! It works kinda something like this. Cast your mind back to the 80s. You remember when you were playing PacMan, and you were doing really well, and the Ghost-monsters, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and
I think it’s true of the entire human race, and perhaps the animal kingdom as well, that we always kick downwards. The rich and powerful treat their servants abominably, who in turn round-upon the lesser servants inside the house, who then give the outside servants a hard time, who themselves kick the delivery boy in the arse if he’s late, who in turn gives his chimney sweeps a thrashing… You get the picture, right? Well as true as this is the world over, I have never seen it followed with such regimental brutality as I see everyday here in India, where the gap between rich and poor is astronomical, with literally hundreds of degrees between the two. And waaaaaaaaay down the bottom of that heap are the poor buggers who everyday clean the streets and sort through the garbage, picking out bits of food and selling off shards of broken glass for next to nothing, just so that they can feed their sick and starving families.
For many amongst the lower-middle to upper classes in this country, the people I have just described are virtually invisible. Every morning when we awake, the dirty street from the night before has received a visit from the Clean-up Fairy, and if you leave your garbage somewhere near your house, it just disappears at some unknown time. It’s not really that these people only move around at night, it’s just that they are treated as, and therefore are taught to be non-people. They literally melt into nothing before your eyes … unless you’re really looking, which Donkey often does.
And what Donkey saw the other day was the most heartening thing I have seen all year. The street sweeper had been hard at it in the hot morning sun, probably for hours! I’d only been watching her and her crotchety broom for about fifteen minutes, and I was fascinated by her upright, dignified posture as she swept the crud from the gutters along the length of the New Delhi Ring Road. In the short time that I watched her, she had been pushed aside by a business man running by, told to get out of the way by a honking rickshaw and had had red paan (beetle nut) juice spat at her feet by a passing motorist. This graceful lady, dressed as she was in a miraculously spotless, elegant pink saree was certainly in no position to fight back against this world which, if not actually despising her, certainly was indifferent to her existence.
Yet there is a weapon available to the deserving, no matter how wretched their situation might appear; there’s always moral high ground! In this case, although a pretty awful job it might be, street sweeping is seen as a necessity in the Government’s push to convince the world of the existence of “Clean Delhi”, so after decades, or years, or certainly hours of getting kicked about here and there by all and sundry, it’s not surprising that she was getting a bit tired of the ungrateful hoards. On this morning, our unlikely heroin’s sweeping progress was blocked by a lazy cad, fag hanging from his mouth, lounging atop his cycle rickshaw. She said something in hindi, which I assume was a polite request that he move, and he replied with what I assume was a less than conciliatory “Get stuffed, you old bag!”, and then I watched in jaw-dropping fascination as this frail old mare took to the rickshaw wallah with her broom, raining curses upon him as she hit and walloped him until he got out of the way pretty quick smart.
It was incredible! This young tyke was about two foot taller than the sweeping woman, and certainly looked able to defend himself physically from her comical tirade, except she had one thing at her disposal which he could not match with height or brawn. She had a job to do … and her mission to keep the streets of
See? Moral high ground can make you strong, and can shield you with an impenetrable defence against the evil and unrighteous. Oh, and anyone who’s never been fortunate enough to stand up there and look down on the selfish and cruel, take it from Donkey, it’s a very powerful and exciting buzz!
Even the poorest and most down-trodden can become invincible with the right weapon. Photo: Hagas