One of our better seminars this year was about the 9/11 memorial, and in the course of reading this and that about it, I came across this idea: That memorials to horrific events should not be erected too soon, that even bright-line tragedies should be viewed and understood from a distance of some years before we try to memorialize them. That’s not to say al-Qaeda will improve with age, only that time tells, and it may be telling us something different about 9/11 in a few years.
Of course, this is Manhattan real estate we’re talking about here — in other words, a long mellowing isn’t possible — but it’s an interesting idea to consider. The one clear criticism of the Oklahoma City memorial I’ve read is its lack of context, that still-grieving families simply refused to allow a memorial that gave any significant presence to the event’s perpetrator, and so you can visit it without learning a thing about Tim McVeigh, the anti-government subculture of the mid-’90s, and what it led to. Those who don’t remember the past, etc.
And so it goes with Columbine. As the anniversary journalism passes through, I’m amazed at the persistence of the bullying myth, which I thought was discredited years ago. Evidently, though, lots of inattentive Americans still believe the teenagers behind that massacre did what they did because they’d been picked on.
Linda said on April 21, 2004 at 5:45 pm
Interesting article linked there.
In days gone by, I used to feel a small amount of sadness for the Jeffrey Dahmers and Charles Mansons of this world because I used to think: Man, I wonder what someone did to them in their past to make them like they are today? What evil was visited on them to make them snap? I never believed that saying that someone is “born evil”.
But after reading a lot of psychic Sylvia Browne’s books on reincarnation, death, and the spirit world, and mulling it over in my own mind for some time now, I find I now agree with her: that some people are just born psychopaths. Plain and simple. They are dark spirits who were psychopaths and sociopaths in every other incarnation they’ve lived on earth, and will continue to be one in the next life, until they learn to leave evil behind.
Bob said on April 21, 2004 at 7:37 pm
Anyone who thinks no one is born evil, or that it’s not possible for someone to be so rotten that not a trace of goodness exists in him, should have met my first boyfriend. Or, since he’s dead, let me introduce you to my youngest brother.
Youngest brother goes beyond sociopath. Not only can he justify any action in order to get what he wants, but hurting people is a goal in itself for him. There doesn’t have to be a payoff other than the satisfaction of seeing others suffer. He’s been that way since he was a toddler; we kept a plank floating in the dairy cows’ watering tank, so that the kittens could get out after he threw them in. If he does something nice for someone, it’s either to set them up or to con them so that he can use them to hurt someone else.
First bf got his kicks the same way.
beth said on April 22, 2004 at 2:29 am
Its almost impossible NOT to accept that people are born evil. Only because there are people in the world that you have to accept are born GOOD. Its too easy to assume that people have had difficult lives and are therefore not accountable for their actions. There can be no one who expects their child to do grievous harm to the world, and I think that parents generally look the other way. What else can you do when things like this happen? Even if there are more than compelling signs (i.e Columbine) as a parent, would you honestly think, “my child could do this?”
4dbirds said on April 22, 2004 at 10:05 am
I agree that many people are born without empathy and caring for others. I am loathe to call it ‘evil’ in a spiritual way. I think it’s a birth defect, the wiring get crossed. But no matter what you call it, these are people who can do you harm in various degrees and we must steer clear of them.
But what if one is your boss, your child, or perhaps a cop or President?