Let me give you three truths:
- Everyone who wants to do something wrong comes up with a grievance that, in his own mind, justifies his evil deeds. The most common generic grievance is that someone in society has failed you.
- If society fails you, that doesn’t give you an excuse to fail society.
- One of the most important ways society can fail you and many others is to not hold you responsible for your behavior.
I thought of this while reading about three teens who smashed a couple of homeless men to death with sticks and cinderblocks. One of them had broken up with his girlfriend so he needed to attack some homeless people to feel better.
What started me thinking was this quotation from the Albuquerque Journal:
The men’s bodies were found by a passerby at 8 a.m. Saturday in a field near 60th and Central.
“They are unrecognizable,” Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said of the victims. “My question is: Who failed these kids? How did it get to this point? It was so violent. I was sick to my stomach. Homicide (detectives) had a hard time dealing with it.”
One of the most insane parts of this is that, while responsibility is not ascribed to the evildoer, it is ascribed to others. They somehow did wrong so that the “victim” had to commit evil deeds. But didn’t society also fail those people?
I’m open to some horrible story coming out about the teens’ parents. But until that happens, I think this speculation is the wrong question.
The real question is, “Why did these kids fail us?”
I fully realize there are a variety of ways that society probably contributed to their psychotic behavior. My guess is that the eighteen-year-old was the worst and the other two were easily influenced by him. But I don’t know for sure. Whatever might have happened to those kids growing up, it was their duty to God and to the human race to not give way to violence and bloodlust.
And if society doesn’t emphasize to us that each one of us, no matter what excuse we are capable of manufacturing, is responsible for his own behavior, then it is indeed, failing.
Think about the stupid and evil grievance that Elliot Rodger used to justify knifing and shooting people, with a special emphasis on killing attractive women. Do you want to support his twisted world view by talking about “who failed” him?
He failed us. He failed society. So did these three.
I am entirely in favor of studying the factors that led up to this event. My hunch, however, is that other people have probably suffered as much or more than they, and yet have never become serial attackers.
People need to be held accountable for their deeds. Each one of us needs to internalize this message. We need to hold one another responsible for each person’s own behavior.
Otherwise, we can expect more insane crimes as society descends into chaos.