With an increasing sense of unease, I read reports about criminal assaults of unimaginable brutality committed against innocent passers-by. In many instances, there was no robbery involved; the motivation was clearly not gain. It turns out to be nothing but an expression of nauseatingly violent hatred against a stranger on account of his political persuasion or his religious beliefs or because of his white skin color. Sometimes it is just for the nihilistic joy of destruction. To my knowledge, this form of anti-social behavior is occurring more frequently in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Today we rightly condemn past times when similar assaults took place, though the political persuasions, religious beliefs and skin color might have been different. Yet, today we often avert our eyes from these attacks and pretend they aren’t happening.
I am sure that there must be one or two people in your world for whom you harbor intense dislike. I know that is true for me. There are even a few human beings whose actions I view as so evil and destructive that I do believe the world would be better off without them.
What stops you and me from creeping up behind one of these people we dislike (okay, detest) and ferociously slamming our fists against the back of their heads so savagely that they collapse to the sidewalk? Precisely this is now happening ever more frequently, and what is more, most of the thugs elude capture and escape justice.
So, why don’t you and I launch barbaric assaults on those most deserving of our censure? One important answer is that we refrain from violently attacking strangers in the street for exactly the same reason that those conscienceless criminals do commit those attacks: In order to earn and maintain the approval and esteem of others.