Friday, June 05, 2009

Polar Opposites

Humanity is immensely diverse. In its character types, personalities. People hold different values among themselves and between societies with various traditions. Generally speaking, though, most share fundamental human values. The predictability of human behaviour is often quite comforting. That is in the majority, since most people seek to submerge themselves into the general stream of their society. Wanting to be a part of society, share the social contract, to be good citizens. And they are also those who aspire to add something of value to society.

They seek education, an appealing future and hope that life will offer them opportunities. They know that people, all people, are invested with free will. The ability to make choices. To be responsible for themselves. To prioritize, and to set a course of action for themselves, to take advantage of opportunities, to promote their futures, to acquire the wherewithal to do so. And in being responsive and responsible members of society, make friends and acquaintances, meet others with similar values and perspectives.

And then there are the social misfits, those who cannot seem to find a place for themselves in the general stream of society. Who, in fact, reject social mores, think of themselves as outcasts, loners, social anarchists. Often from among this group comes society's sociopaths and psychopathic individuals who reject society because they have no use for convention or for respecting the guidelines set down to ensure that mutual respect results in an aggregate that accepts a certain level of diversity with grace and equanimity.

It's when those polar opposites meet in haphazard circumstances that tragedy so often occurs. Those without conscience, without the human emotive ability to sympathize with others, to empathize with the pain that others may feel, become predators. Feeling they owe nothing to anyone, they experience no episodes of stricken conscience that what they do causes pain and suffering. Their randomized experiences give them opportunity to inflict wounds on society, and if their criminal actions excite the attention of authorities they're confined as a threat to society for a length of time.

In Britain two young "talented, decent young men", university students, second-year students from Clermont-Ferrand in central France, nearing the end of a 3-month research placement studying DNA at London's Imperial College shared a flat. They lived together in friendship and for convenience, and they died together in agony and for no reason other than that two drug-addicted men could exercise their will to inflict on others a sadistic episode of horrendous slaughter.

One of the murderers had been released from jail several months prior to the double killing for stabbing a teenager. While out on bail he re-offended, but was not returned to prison. He was left free to torture two 23-year-old biochemistry students to obtain their cash card PIN codes. He and his partner in double atrocity stabbed the victims 244 times, then burned their bodies in an orgy of inhumane insanity. The two were convicted and jailed for 40 and 35 years.

In Canada, two 14-year-old Edmonton youths, wards of the Alberta Children and Youth Services, housed in an unsecure group home for young offenders, brutally murdered a 68-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman in a remote rural area in what RCMP have named a "random" act. Both young boys were being held at the Bosco Homes Agency in provincial care. They left the facility unauthorized, to indulge in vandalism of a school. Were arrested and returned to the group home.

And then, while in the care of an adult supervisor along with other boys housed in the group home, quietly made their exit once again. They were soon pulled over on a highway by Edmonton police for careless driving within city limits, of a stolen truck. RCMP arrived at the rural address of the registered owner of the vehicle where a relative informed them that the man hadn't returned from doing yard work close by, the day previous. When they arrived at the rural address it was to discover two dead people.

The man lying in the yard where he had been working, the woman in the trailer that stood on the property. Normal people, going about their business, harming no one. Living out their lives as circumstances permitted them to, before being set upon by other human beings whom genetics, upbringing and happenstance conspired to breed as vicious predators, killing machines, the scourge of normative society.

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