So, I work in this minor hell. A violent, drug infested, crime ridden, slice of survival over humanity. This assessment coming from an amoral, emotionally numb human who was raised in a similar environment. I survived. I’m sure most of the children I see everyday will also. The question that is exercising my brain is what version of them will survive.
I’ve been paying attention this last half century. Watching myself change to survive. As a child living with violent alcoholics or manipulative psychopaths, I learned to endure without understanding. In combat, I learned to isolate my emotions further. I’m not fearless as much as indifferent to risk. You must learn to care and do for yourself because there are so few you can rely on to do for you. It’s my armor. You can’t hurt me because I will never give you the chance.
I see it on the streets everyday. I wonder if it’s camouflage or role modeling. In nature, defenseless creatures imitate predators as a form of defense. Even when confronted with a determined adversary who has seen through the display, they still pretend. If they survive and escape, they must still act like a predator in the hope that it will keep the next attack at bay. Survival instinct.
Humans do the same, the nurture versus nature argument echos in living experiments. You can watch the sweet loving child grow until they reach a social separation point, usually school age. After the introduction to complex society, they learn to negotiate for position. Cooperation or dominance defined by ability and bargaining position start to replace family security. In the early teens comes a major change, not just puberty. The roles become set.
This is where the question of the day comes in. Are these young adults choosing to camouflage themselves or picking role models? To survive in the street, you either look like a predator or a victim. The traditional, forgive me, White American role models are policemen, teachers, scientists and businessmen are portrayed as oppressors and chumps, people to be fought or exploited. The strong man, seen everyday, fighting and surviving is right there on the corner. He’s powerful, has a gun and money. The people all know him, the women all want to be with him. It doesn’t matter that he will die young or spend half his life in jail. He accepts that as part of the cost.
Does it matter whether a child chooses camouflage over role model? That’s the problem the rest of society has. It’s simple. You can’t tell the difference. That’s the point of camouflage. The weakness is that as soon as it is broken, it is useless. Which is the wasp and which is the moth?