Do You Wanna Be In My Gang, My Gang, My Gang...???

A Lot To Answer For: "Do you wanna be in my gang? Oh yeah!" Mankind's gang mentality has a lot to answer for. As we know, all that glitters is not necessarily gold - however, we can all get fooled and sucked in at times. Everyone likes to feel a part of something. Everyone likes to feel comradeship. Everyone likes to feel worth. These simple aspects of human nature can be greatly exploited by those that want to take, or take over, that which belongs to others...

Martin's Gang: One of my earliest schoolboy memories was in the playground at St Alban's Road infant school, in Dartford. We'd only just started school and were in the playground for the first time. I had naturally congregated with a group of boys in one corner of the playground, a sort of alcove formed by outbuildings and a natural shelter (and fortress). It seemed to be where the action was. I remember one of the lads then saying to me that this group of boys (that I was now a part of), was Martin's gang and over there, in the opposite corner of the playground, was someone else's gang, whose name escapes me. The boy talking to me had a large upturned square red biscuit tin with a shiny bottom. I can still picture it now, as he reflected the sunlight off of it like a mirror, he said, enthusiastically referring to the other gang, "Look! I can shine this in their eyes and blind them." Or words to that effect.

Split Into Two. Looking back on that memory, some of the things that stick out to me were the apparent necessity for allegiance to one group of boys or the other. Like one had to decide. And why did we split into two gangs? Why was there not just the one gang - all in it together? All in together? Haven't we heard that somewhere else recently? However, despite the verbal slurry that spews from the mouths of some smooth talking politicians, the reality is, as most of us realise, we are not in the least all in it together, even though we absolutely should be! Some of us are definitely more in it than others and always have been and that is usually down to someone else's gang taking control, for better or worse!

That Simple Concept: When it comes down to it, it seems that human beings have difficulty grasping and applying that simple concept - all in it together, simply because we see fit not to. It's almost as if we have to have rivals, to split up and segregate. We have to have an opponent to battle it out with, or we have to pick on or persecute others or simply exploit and take advantage. We seem to find it much more natural to segregate and be herded into groups, perhaps attracting others to join those groups to swell the ranks to a point of ascendancy. Sometimes the leaders of the gangs want to use that resulting ascendancy and power to take, and take over, that which rightly belongs to others. The result? War! What is quite interesting is that this behaviour pattern, a behaviour pattern that has caused so much misery on this planet, was evident and prevalent in five year old boys who had just started at an infant school on that day.

Conned And Conditioned: Even through primary and secondary school I remember talk of the mods and rockers, the Tree Estate mob, the Temple Hill mob, the Darenth mob, etc, etc, etc. Of course, it's strange, but sometimes a good scuffle with your worst enemy can result in you becoming the best of friends. It kind of establishes a mutual respect and willingness to accept each other and bond together. It is also quite true to say that you could be the best of friends with the guy in the other trench, you know, that one that you've just shot, if only the world had been a little different at the time and you'd been given the chance. The fact is, as human beings, we're not that different! We are conned and conditioned into thinking we are. It is simply the gang mentality taking a hold and getting in the way and us being exploited by those who see an opportunity to try and take advantage.

Every Aspect: The fact is that the gang mentality permeates the very fabric of every aspect of our society and world at large. Not just at school, or on the estates, where we grow up and hang around as kids, but all through the adult world likewise. Gangs are everywhere. Every army is a gang. Every nation is a gang. Every religion is a gang. Every football club is a gang. Every political party is a gang! Etc, etc, etc... All vying for supremacy and superiority! Trying to get one up on the other lot! Some will even go as far as killing those that do not join or fit in with their ways. Some will try and be a little more tactful to attract new members. Some will just shun and ostracize those that do not fall in line. Some will use propaganda, smear tactics and spread dirt to try and win advantage. Some will simply live and let live, given the chance themselves.

A Very Good Time! However, one thing stands out in all of this and that is that all too often you cannot serve one gang and serve any other at the same time. It is simply taboo, conflicting and, or, not allowed. It has to be one gang or the other! How many people have been killed, enslaved, persecuted and trodden on because of something inherent and manifesting itself that day in five year olds just starting infant school? Of course we didn't have real weapons at the time, and I suppose, we were probably just playing a game. However, what comes first? Were we following an example set by our elders, even at that age, or was it natural ingrained genetic behaviour finding an outlet? I suppose it's fair to say that children have it all to learn and can be forgiven for being young and naive. After all, that's what we are at that age. But, what about when we grow up? What about the adults of this world? When are we going to stop behaving like five year olds and falling for it? When are we going to realise some basic principles and simple facts of life? Now, at least, for our planet, is a very good time I would say!
Crosstalk by Taz: May 2013