The headlines are as usual full of crime. A prominent ex-restaurateur has been charged with ripping off IHC, a banker secretly squirreled away millions, a millionaire with a reputable ordinary life has been murdered and it’s been revealed he was a secret swinger.
Why do human beings do it? The craving for excitement is part of the human psyche. Bungy jumping seems an example of this appetite. With crime or sin or just breaking the rules of convention the thrill of risk-taking and the sense of superiority all too often overtake caution and common sense. They will not catch me. That seems a rule of thumb for many murderers and fraudsters.
But they often do. Not always. That’s the catch. There’s always the possibility you’ll get away with it.
And society does seem to have a double standard. White collar crime is regarded differently from blue collar crime. Penalties alone reflect that. So do societal attitudes. I suspect that the ideas that Neitzsche promulgated in the 19th century still flourish, the boundaries between good and bad (or should that be evil) blurred.
Most of my life has been spent in an atmosphere of decency, kindness, common sense and compassion. Not always, but mainly the bits that affect me. Modern communications may suggest we live in a world of murder and mayhem but that’s not my experience. I’ve been lucky. Those virtues are rather ineffective in face of evil.
There are other interweaving strands. Do suicide bombers have an adrenaline rush as they mingle with their victims moments before detonation? Or is this just cold-blooded fanaticism? Reading about the Jesuit priests infiltrating Elizabeth’s England opens up further thoughts. Some sought martyrdom. Back in Rome there was concern. The aim was conversion and the upholding of the faith. The death of a priest set back the cause. But hiding in a priest-hole while soldier’s ransacked your host’s house must have been nerve-wrackingly exciting as well as painfully distressful. In one way the Gunpowder Plot conspirators were 17th century terrorists.
I have too much imagination to be a good spy. And the idea of torture. Heaven forbid! I’d crack at the sight of foreceps. But I’m well aware of the old precept – ‘there but by the grace of God go I.’ I admit to the human characteristic of selfishness. So having gone round in circles I give up. It’s all beyond me. Part of the rich tapestry that is life. But I still find it difficult to imagine the mindset that could deliberately indulge in financial criminal activities that destroy the livelihood and happiness of ordinary folk.
The Bookman is away
3 days ago