|Sevilla - August 1988|
This is where I faced random violence for the first time in my life. Violence?
The place is Sevilla, Spain. I’m taking pictures as usual. Popeye and Swee’ Pea are waiting for me as usual. My camera is brand new and quite expensive. I walk towards the wall and then... two men on a motorcycle. I don’t see them. They are coming from behind my back.
Popeye understands at once what will happen. He’s still quite athletic. He runs towards me and grabs me out of the two men’s reach. We run to our car because they are coming back. I manage to get into the car just in time. Swee’ Pea is scared. (He is 8 yrs old.)
Popeye drives away. The two men will follow us for the longest time, probably hoping to get a second chance.
We go back to the hotel. I’m badly shaken.
Of course, the following morning, we go back to Sevilla and I start taking pictures again but I have to admit that I am a little bit on my guard.
This kind of violence happens every day and everywhere to everybody. Who hasn’t felt threatened one day in his/her life? Once? Twice? Several times?
When it happens, we start blaming the ‘unknown’/the ‘other’.
In Sevilla, the two men belonged to the Spanish gipsy community, so far away from my very quiet French suburbian life.
Fear of the other/unknown gets very toxic in our life. It may even drive us to fall down a spiral of exclusion. We tend to dislike so much whatever is different from us because it may become a danger for us. It may, which doesn’t mean that it will. But... one never knows...
I have noticed that we tend to be more scared of the ‘unknown/other’ when we live in a rather protected and safe environment.
Remember, darkness scared our ancestors. Light was the key to survival.
As soon as dark streets were lit, we started feeling better because we did not realize that petty thievery could and would happen in broad daylight as well.
My grandfather, Bon-Papa Mathieu, used to tell us stories that had happened to him while he was getting wood down to the city and bringing back money and goods for the village. All this with his team of horses.
He was attacked several times by highwaymen. He was lucky enough to slip from their hands.
Those stories were scary.
When we were growing up, we were absolutely sure that our ‘world’ would be very safe, much safer at least.
Well, it is not a safe world. We live in a violent world.
We feel its violence even more because we are basically nonviolent people.
And we feel that we are very unfairly treated which is true. Because this is not the way we would act. We would not steal. We would not rob. We would not... so many things that are done to us.
But please, when very unpleasant things happen to us, let us not pass judgment on people as a whole.
Let us refrain from passing judgment on foreigners, strangers, people who are so different from us.
We have to resist to temptation. No social exclusion. No cultural exclusion. No racial eclusion either.
The first time Les Tertres were burglarized, the policemen went directly to check on one of the most influential and respected families in the village. Wrong move. The young man they were thinking of was already in jail for another burglary.
Quite a joke, isn’t it?
Not for his parents, of course. They had to live with his shortcomings and the constant mockery from the villagers.
You see, there are no Arabs in our village.
*Good Luck, and Good Night*