A human tragedy

Lady Justice in bronze

Lady Justice in bronze

Last night I was working on a transcript of a another serious crime. The Israeli court of law, probably like most courts of law, deals with various types of crimes and usually handles them differently. This particular crime is the second severe crime that I was to “witness” as a scribe.

The first time I worked on a serious offense left me digusted and shocked at the evil that humans are capable of, and the ability of lawyers to defend even the most vile criminals.

This second case intrigued me because of a much more depressing reason.

Like I said, I could lose my job and be prosecuted if I actually write about what happened, but fortunately, the actual event is of no consequence to the conclusion I drew out of it.

Firstly, I want to note that this particular crime is so heinous that I wouldn’t be able to talk about it with the soft-hearted anyway, and I ain’t sure about the “hard-hearted” either. The really bowel-churning thing about this case, however, is really not the actual crime.

Let’s put it like this:

Human beings are amalgams of emotion. Sometimes we find ourselves incapable of controlling our emotions, sometimes we find ourselves incapable of thinking straight because our emotions cloud our judgment, make us hesitate too long or in some cases, push us to make rash decisions and act recklessly.

This is only human. I can easily forgive a word said in anger but I will never forgive a cold-hearted sin. Human emotions are often good enough an excuse for me, especially when they cannot be controlled and are the result of external factors. If someone has a shitty day and takes it out on me a bit, I recoil, and completely ignore the unwarranted personal attack. People sometimes need our help the most when they’re being nasty to everyone.

That said, the tragedy I wish to write about in this post is the fact that it doesn’t, in fact, require people to be evil in order of them to do evil things. I see “evil” people, disregarding the somewhat subjective and complicated definition of the word, as people who perform evil deeds without a hint of guilt. With malice, with an utterly greedy and self-centered motive and with unhindered intent.

These are people who have, for some reason, made the decision long ago to take what’s not theirs from people who can’t defend themselves or what they own. These people do not see themselves as evil. They see themselves as smart enough to know how to get richer on the expense of those who can’t keep their wealth.

The case I painstakingly transcribed yesterday was not about such people. In fact, it doesn’t even matter which side was “right” on the subject, because in any case, the assailant was this particular brand of “evil-doer” that I’m lamenting about here. There was a crime that was committed not because a person was evil. In fact, the person committing the crime was probably a good person, by any definition of the word.

The truly tragic element in this whole wretched story is the fact that powerful, innate, and incontrollable emotions held the people involved hostage, and twisted their minds and eventually, their actions, in such catastrophic measures as to motivate them towards doing horrible things to each other.

Love, for example, is an emotion that is sometimes so powerful, it can backfire on either side of a loving relationship when things go awry, as they sometimes do. In cases like this, perfectly normal people are perpetrators of a crime.  (in this case, I will disclose that a large number of character witnesses were shocked at what happened and testified in court that the people involved are not the kind of people who’d they ever thought will be)

The truly amazing thing is that it is even a fact that in this particular case, the aggressor had no prior criminal record. This is a case of something that erupted with volcanic fervor simply because of bottled up, incontrollable, and most importantly, human emotions.

The conclusion from this case is that no matter how good you are, no matter how loving, caring, gentle, thoughtful and peaceful you may be, you are subject to the same emotional constraints that every human being is subjected to. Because of that, every man is a potential criminal. Every man can be shaken up so bad as to do horrible deeds he will later live his entire life to regret. I should know.

I remember constantly reminding and reiterating to myself throughout the script that I am NOT like this. That I will never inflict such violence on anyone, no matter what provocations I will have to endure or what kind of emotional torture will motivate me towards acts of anger and violence.

But at the end of this horrible case, I figured that I truly don’t know. When mom died last year, I did some horrible things to everyone I cared about (and some people I didn’t care about) simply because I was bottling up emotions and was suffering so bad from PTSD that I was completely powerless to stop my journey of self-destruction. My escape of self-destruction, actually, is still somewhat of a miracle. I might write a post about that some day.

At the end of this case I figured that no one can really tell what’s his breaking point. No one can really tell what kind of pressure can be applied in order of which to make a person like him or herself become violent, become a thief, become evil. There might be a certain emotional volume in every person that will deluge his senses with grief and anger in a way as to transform a perfectly sensible, good person into a thief or a killer, and this is a fact that I found truly troubling about this entire case.

That there are evil people and evil deeds happening in the world is not particularly new to me, and even though this crime was heinous, I’ve heard, read and witnesses evil enough to swallow the information without much emotional contusions. The truly heartsinking element to this story is that yes, for some given value of emotional torment: It could have been me doing the crime, it could have been everyone.

So the moral of this tragedy is that perhaps it is best to prepare for times that test us and specifically, test our limits. We must constantly remind ourselves that regardless of a possible turmoil – whether it is the infliction, even of death, of someone we love, be it betrayel and acts of aggression, physical or not, by someone who hold most precious – we must never reduce ourselves to violent beasts. Traitors are to be scorned and neglected. Killers are to be subdued and are to receive due trial.

But we must never let the beast take over, because once that wall breaks down, it all breaks down, and eventually we’re going to look at the mirror after we’ve turned into the unimaginable and see a monster staring back at us.

2 Comments »

  1. GentlePath Said:

    I followed Mojoey’s link here. I’ve been reading the Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo – and that coupled with your post here has given me something to think about.

    Everyone has a breaking point, it’s just that most of us don’t care to admit it.

    I’m glad you survived what sounds like a hellish breaking point. Sometimes we forget that our brains can be hurt, which affects who we are and what we do.

  2. freidenker85 Said:

    Well, I really can’t imagine a lot of people having such a horrible breaking point, but then again, I could never imagine such horrible things occurring until they finally actually occurred.

    Sometimes I wonder if anything else will ever break me the same way, and even though I feel like I could never feel so bad again, I know that’s not true.

    This was a telling experience: atheist or not, rational or not,
    some things are such so mind-splatteringly painful that you simply forgo any use of your intellect afterwards. Theism is a walk in the park next to this.

    I hope you, or anyone else, for that matter, ever feels that way.


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